Organization Announces First-Ever Empathy Network Leadership Cohort
Supported by Sony Music Group and Van Jones
LOS ANGELES, February 16, 2022 — Today, Dream Corps JUSTICE recognized that it received a $500,000 donation from the Sony Music Group Global Social Justice Fund. As a recipient, Dream Corps developed an advocacy training cohort program, spanning 17 states, and was based on teaching organizing tools that Dream Corps JUSTICE used to lead passage of the First Step Act in 2018 and pass bipartisan criminal justice legislation in states across the country.
Within the program, twenty formerly incarcerated and justice-impacted individuals were given a six-month training program to develop organizing, legislative, campaign, and media literacy skills. As a result of the advocacy cohort, participants have already become nonprofit leaders, media spokespersons, and leaders of grassroots advocacy campaigns that reimagine justice, create alternatives to mass incarceration and make communities safer.
Additional milestones achieved as a result of the Sony Music Group donation include:
- Preventing over 5,000 incarcerated individuals on COVID-19 home confinement from returning to federal prison
- Restoring freedom and reunite thousands of families impacted by incarceration under the First Step Act
- Graduating formerly incarcerated individuals through mentorship and computer skills training and secure paid tech industry employment
All of Dream Corps JUSTICE’s campaigns are led by people who have been impacted by the justice system and lived through criminal justice issues. Dream Corps operates on the belief that the people most harmed by our country’s legal system are uniquely qualified to create and champion the solutions that will begin to transform it. Dream Corp is launching a second year of the Empathy Network Advocacy Cohort. Applications for 2022 open in March.
Today’s graduation (February 16, 2022) of the Empathy Network Advocacy Cohort graduation will take place on Zoom at 7:00pm ET. Participants will be celebrated by friends and family members, along with Dream Corps founder Van Jones and leadership from Dream Corps and Sony Music Group.
Van Jones, founder of Dream Corps, said: “America’s criminal justice costs too much, hurts too many, and doesn’t do enough to keep us safe. Fixing it is a mammoth task. To do it, we’ll need darers, dreamers, and doers. Sony Music Group dared to invest in formerly incarcerated people, Dream Corps dreamed of putting them at the center of solutions-based work, and today’s graduates stepped up to do the task. Now, thanks to this collaboration, they have the skills to equal their insight and are poised to help transform criminal justice in this country.”
“At Sony Music Group, we are committed to supporting efforts that drive social and racial justice initiatives around the world and are honored to partner with Van and Dream Corp JUSTICE to bring such an impactful and results-driven program to local communities,” said Towalame Austin, Executive Vice President of Philanthropy and Social Impact, Sony Music Group. “The program not only aligns with our criminal justice reform pillar from our Global Social Justice Fund, but also allows us to connect with individuals who have turned their personal hardships into transformative and empowering opportunities.”
Detroit resident Kenneth Nixon, a cohort member and President of the Organization of Exonerees, was recently exonerated after spending almost 16 years in prison for a crime that he did not commit. “I’m fresh out of a prison cell. I didn’t know anything about forming a nonprofit, sending out mass emails, or being able to collect data on your supporters. But learning it allowed me to take my organization to the next level,” he said. Just last month, Nixon formed a nonprofit organization to help other wrongly imprisoned people find freedom. “I would personally like to say thank you, Sony Music Group. The Organization of Exonerees wouldn’t be what it is without the training provided by this cohort.”
The Dream Corps JUSTICE Empathy Network Advocacy Cohort provides justice-impacted individuals with a 6-month training program geared to develop skills in organizing, legislative and campaign advocacy, and media. Some of the best advocacy trainers in the country run the program, designed to empower cohort members to advance solutions that cut incarceration, reimagine justice, and make our communities safer.
Dream Corps JUSTICE is committed to transforming the American criminal justice system by centering directly impacted leadership and working with allies across the political spectrum to find common ground. We believe that the people most harmed by our current legal system are uniquely qualified to create and champion the solutions to transform it.
The Dream Corps JUSTICE Team has led a series of bipartisan state and federal policy victories over the past five years, including the historic First Step Act. Our Empathy Network informs our work, which annually hosts the Day of Empathy, the nation’s largest gathering of justice-impacted leaders. April 5, 2022 is this year’s Day of Empathy.
Dream Corps closes prison doors and opens doors of opportunity through our nationally renowned programs: Dream Corps JUSTICE, Dream Corps TECH, and GREEN For All. We bring people together across racial, social, and partisan lines to create a future with freedom and dignity for all.
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