Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $750,000)
The Victim Rights’ Movement has successfully championed significant changes in crime victims’ rights; victim compensation; victims’ services; and survivor-centered legislation and funding to support crime victims and survivors over the past 50 years. Despite these accomplishments, many survivors from historically marginalized communities are not reached, supported, or represented by existing victim service programs or within the criminal justice system. Such gaps in accessibility, inclusion and equity within the victim services field have been exposed and exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic as historically marginalized survivors are speaking out about barriers to help, safety and justice, often due to the impact of multiple forms of discrimination.
The National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA)—in collaboration with its research partner, Rainbow Research---proposes standing up the Youth Advocate Leadership Corps to elevate the voices of these survivors and build a new future for the movement. As the country continues to face the most significant global crisis in a generation, the call for national service and advocacy for all crime survivors is urgent and imperative. The Youth Advocate Leadership Corps will develop a new generation of young leaders who both reflect the diversity of crime survivors and who are passionate and committed to meeting the needs of this moment and being the voices for change.
Designed to meet OJP Priority Area A, the Leadership Corps will be launched as a pilot program and will involve recruiting 15 college students representing intersecting marginalized communities, including racially marginalized, indigenous, LGBTQIA+, disabled, and immigrant communities, from five geographically diverse communities to participate in a paid victim advocate fellowship program. These promising leaders will receive trauma-informed training, mentorship, professional credentialing, and technical support to prepare them to serve in community agencies responding to all forms of crime victimization, including homicide, mass violence, hate crimes, sexual/domestic violence, elder and child abuse, trafficking, and missing and murdered indigenous/Black women.
Primary activities of the project include: 1) Assess needs within the victim services field to define the vision and framework for the Youth Advocate Leadership Corps; 2) Develop, launch and evaluate a pilot program shaped by the voices of historically marginalized survivors; and 3) Establish a national model for engaging diverse youth leaders in the victim services field. Beneficiaries of the program will include historically marginalized survivors and under-resourced community agencies in each of the five pilot communities, as well as the larger victim services movement.