Who Pays? The True Cost of Incarceration on Families

Women, particularly low-income women and women of color, bear the brunt of the emotional and financial burden when family members are incarcerated, states a September report led by the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Forward Together, and Research Action Design. The report, which profiled more than 300 family members impacted by incarceration, found that families of individuals in the criminal justice system were saddled with debt from legal fees and lost income, and assumed significant emotional burdens from damages to their familial relationships, social stigma and isolation, and disrupted support systems. The majority of family members on the outside shouldering these financial and emotional costs were women, with low-income women of color suffering an especially disproportionate impact. Transgender women of color with a loved one in prison had a particular set of emotional impacts, because they were more likely to be criminalized themselves, and were therefore generally barred from visiting prisons.

The report outlines recommendations to help stabilize and support these vulnerable families. These recommendations include: restructure criminalization policies to reduce the number of people serving sentences and the length of sentences served, remove barriers for formerly incarcerated individuals to access resources like housing and employment, and increase investment and support (job training, education, employment services, etc.) for formerly incarcerated individuals and their families and communities. To read more on the coalition’s findings and recommendations, see the full report.



Overbrook Grantees take on Science Museums

Two of Overbrook’s grantees have teamed up and are making waves in the world of science and natural history education. The Natural History Museum (a new grantee of the Foundation in 2015) and 350.org launched a joint “Keep It in the Museum” campaign last week which singles out five influential science and natural history museums for their connections to fossil fuels industry through investments, endowments, or board members and donors from the fossil fuel industry. The campaign comes on the heels of an open letter written in March by the Natural History Museum and signed by nearly 150 of the world’s top scientists, which decried the link between museums and the fossil fuel industry. The letter made major news headlines around the world and helped spark a campaign to remove David Koch, one of the nation’s most avid climate change deniers, from the board of two of the country’s biggest national history museums.

The joint effort between The Natural History Museum and 350.org has already made an impact. One of its five target institutions, The California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, has since announced a new plan to phase out all of its funding tied to the fossil fuel industry. Executive Director Jonathan Foley wrote in a statement released last Friday, “It seems difficult to reconcile the mission of a public science museum focused on ecology, evolution, and sustainability and the practice of investing in fossil fuels.” As of this summer, the Academy has cut all direct investments in fossil fuel companies and has begun to phase out any oil, gas, and mineral leases on lands with historic mineral rights given by donors. Additionally, the Academy has adopted a new institutional gift policy that ensures contributions are consistent with this pledge, and will begin working to untie its endowment completely from fossil fuels.

We can't wait to see what comes next from this exciting collaborative efforts. Congratulations to The Natural History Museum and 350.org on the victory!


Peru Protects Indigenous Amazon Land

The Foundation would like to congratulate Overbrook grantee Nature and Culture International and the Maijuna and Kichwa people on their recent historic victory. Last week, President Humala of Peru officially recognized the Maijuna-Kichwa Regional Conservation Area in the Amazon rainforest of northern Peru as a federally protected land. Nature and Culture International has been working tirelessly along with the indigenous Maijuna and Kichwa people and the regional Loreto government to protect the area since 2006.

In addition to being the ancestral homeland of the indigenous Maijuna and Kichwa, the conservation area is also home to nearly one million acres of incredibly biodiverse rainforest. The decree calls for the protection of the area’s natural resources as well as its indigenous inhabitants, under the supervision of the National Service of Protected National Areas by the State and with the assistance of government-trained regional personnel.

To learn more, please see Nature and Culture International’s press release on the decree.

Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, Minister of Environment of Peru, displaying the Supreme Decree 008-2015-MINAM. Photo Credit: SERNANP

Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, Minister of Environment of Peru, displaying the Supreme Decree 008-2015-MINAM. Photo Credit: SERNANP

Catalog Choice Acquired by Story of Stuff

We’re excited to announce that Catalog Choice, an organization developed and co-founded by Senior Environment Program Director Daniel Katz, is returning to its nonprofit roots. Catalog Choice’s free online service has helped millions of users reduce paper waste by helping them connect to direct-mail companies and opt out of receiving unwanted mail. After two years of operating under Equifax, Catalog Choice has been acquired by Overbrook grantee Story of Stuff, a nonprofit working to change the way we make, use, and throw away “stuff.” We are thrilled about this transition, and we know that at its new home under Story of Stuff, Catalog Choice will continue to grow and serve consumers looking for effective zero-waste solutions.

Overbrook grantee featured in Fast Company

This month’s online edition of business magazine Fast Company featured Erin Barnes, co-founder and Executive Director of Overbrook grantee ioby. ioby is a crowd-resourcing platform for citizen-led neighborhood projects aimed at making positive, grassroots-led change in communities from the bottom up. Founded in 2008 by Erin and fellow Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies graduates Brandon Whitney and Cassie Flynn, ioby has since expanded from a small pilot in New York to over 400 neighborhood projects in 6 different cities. In 2012, Erin and her co-founders were awarded the 2012 Jane Jacobs Medal for New Technology and Innovation.

In the interview, Erin talks world-changing strategy and emphasizes the importance of working with opponents to find and achieve common goals. “To get anything worthwhile done requires involving a diversity of constituents, and that means stepping out of your comfort zone to talk with people you don’t agree with,” she says. You can check out Erin’s interview over at Fast Company.

Remembering Jaime Levy

The Foundation is deeply saddened by the recent sudden passing of Jaime Levy, world renowned conservationist and indigenous rights advocate. Jaime was director and co-founder of Altropico, a long-time partner of the Overbrook Foundation. Since the 1980's, Jaime worked directly with highly isolated indigenous groups in Ecuador to gain legal recognition of their territories, advocate for their human rights, and provide tools and training for the sustainable use of their native rainforests. More recently, Jaime served on the International Board of Directors of the Forest Stewardship Council and the IUCN Specialist Group on Mountain Connectivity, Protected Areas, and Mountainous Transboundary Landscapes.

Jaime was an honorary member of the Indigenous Community Conservation Area consortium and was essential to the establishment of the Permanent Indigenous Peoples' Committee. He was an irreplaceable advocate for the rights of indigenous peoples.

The Foundation offers its deepest condolences to Jaime's family and friends.