Strengthening families of the incarcerated; finding creative affordable housing solutions; museums and green spaces for everyone.
Families Reunited After Incarceration
Community Resources • A Better Day Than Yesterday Initiative Program Association
Incarceration doesn’t affect just the person who is behind bars. Its tentacles reach out and touch everyone in the inmate’s life.
“Incarceration impacts families emotionally, physically, and financially,” says LeTeisha Gordon, founder of A Better Day Than Yesterday Initiative Program Association. “It impacts the kids tremendously being separated from a parent.”
A Better Day Than Yesterday works to minimize the negative effects of incarceration on other family members, particularly children. For example, when one parent is incarcerated, the risk that the child will become incarcerated in the future increases.
The organization is currently educating local and national policymakers and advocating for more options in the judicial system. “For nonviolent offenders, we’re advocating that judges consider alternative sentencing options so that a parent may continue to provide financially and emotionally to the development of the child,” Gordon says.
The group also has Build-A-Dad/Build-A-Mom workshops and helps families learn how to communicate effectively when a member is incarcerated. It provides inmates with training in life skills and coping skills to help them better reintegrate with their family and community after their release.
Gordon says the goal is to bring about a time when the recidivism rate has plummeted and families of the incarcerated are stronger. When that time comes, “we’ll see families starting to heal the separation wounds and bring closure to a long, dark nightmare,” she says. “It takes on a ripple effect that impacts our entire community.” — Rasheeda Childress
More Than a Roof Overhead
Community Resources • National Affordable Housing Management Association
Research by the National Affordable Housing Management Association shows that affordable housing is not only about putting a roof over someone’s head. “Affordable housing is also about being able to help residents succeed in life,” says Kristina Cook, CAE, executive director of NAHMA, which advocates for creative ways to increase affordable housing development. But “there is no one-size-fits-all solution.”
NAHMA’s research shows that many residents in affordable housing have many life challenges, including low-wage jobs, a lack of proficiency in English, and—particularly among seniors—special needs and health concerns.
“Many of society’s challenges can be solved in affordable housing communities, because that’s where the most vulnerable people live,” Cook says. “We have added positive data to the ongoing conversation in this country showing that we should all be concerned about having affordable rental housing for Americans.” — Lisa Boylan
Community Resources • Association of Children’s Museums
The cost of museum admission can be a barrier for many low-income families. To enable families of all backgrounds to visit museums regularly and build lifelong museum habits, the Association for Children’s Museums launched Museums for All in 2014.
Through the initiative, those receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits can gain free or reduced admission to more than 500 museums across the U.S. by presenting their SNAP card. Participating institutions include art, history, and science museums; planetariums; zoos; and aquariums.
“We want to ensure that every citizen has access to the cultural life that most speaks to them, “says ACM Executive Director Laura Huerta Migus. “That’s really our goal, to ensure that every single person has access to the rich cultural enrichment and resources that are available as part of public life in the United States.”
Since its launch, Museums for All has served more than 2.5 million visitors. — Samantha Whitehorne
(rzdeb/E+/Getty Images Plus)
Parks for Everyone
Community Resources • National Recreation and Park Association
Access to green spaces and recreation makes communities better. The National Recreation and Park Association wants to ensure all communities have that access, regardless of income or socioeconomic status.
“Racially discriminatory practices, general lack of funding for parks and recreation, and rapid urban development have all led to inequitable access to parks,” says Rachel Banner, NRPA’s director of park access. “Fair and just access to high-quality parks and green space is essential for all people.”
To help make equity a reality, NRPA built an online tool, Creating Equity-Based System Master Plans, that helps planners ensure park plans are grounded in equity. — Rasheeda Childress