Systems Change Work
DISMANTLING THE PIPELINE TO PRISON AND BUILDING ON-RAMPS TO YOUTH LEADERSHIP
Early in FLY’s history, we realized that positive youth transformation is only possible when the systems they interact with help facilitate that transformation. We define Systems Change as:
Intentional and resourced organizational efforts that lead to shifts in policies, practices, or priorities by a government-sanctioned department, office, or agency; usually in response to a change in philosophy, strategy, or scale of need by a particular part of the public.
For FLY, that “part of the public” is young people involved or at risk of involvement in the criminal and juvenile justice systems. While we prioritize the justice and education systems in our change efforts, given the intersectionality with foster care, public health, and other systems where poverty plays a role, we strive to make these systems more just and equitable as well.
Here is our position statement for this work:
FLY believes the systems that funnel children and young adults into prisons are failing them and our communities. Leveraging nearly 20 years of partnering closely with youth and the systems that impact them, FLY is in a unique position to support efforts to bring about positive, equitable, and lasting change. We do this using the following principles:
- FLY creates the space for youth impacted by the justice system to be a part of developing innovative solutions.
- FLY approaches systemic challenges by identifying strengths as a starting point for effecting change.
- FLY orients our work toward fostering holistic solutions in all the systems that impact juveniles.
- FLY is effective in collective leadership, coming together with diverse stakeholders to realize the common goal that all kids be valued, supported, and able to live healthy, free, and productive lives.
We have six strategies for approaching the work:
- Youth Voice: FLY will elevate youth voice to influence policies and practices at the local, state, and national levels, creating opportunities for young people to serve as agents of change.
- Community and Systems Collaboration: FLY will serve as a convener or active member of collaboratives and coalitions where juvenile justice issues are discussed and actionized.
- Systems Partnership: FLY will continue as an active partner of systems through contractual agreements to serve youth and by influencing decision-makers on behalf of young people in the justice system.
- Innovation Through Demonstration: FLY will continue to develop innovative approaches to fulfilling unmet needs among young people who are at risk or are involved in the justice system.
- Research and Policy Analysis: FLY will stay abreast of evidence and best practices that could influence juvenile justice policy or practice at the local, state, or national levels.
- Advocacy and Lobbying Strategy: FLY will support legislation or priority setting by state or local government agencies to effect policy and practice for the betterment of young people.
Read FLY’s Systems Change Framework for information about the activities we engage in to support these strategies.