W. Haywood Burns Institute

  • CA


475 14th Street
Suite 800
United States

About Us

Our Work

The W. Haywood Burns Institute (BI) is an Oakland-based national nonprofit organization. Our mission: To protect and improve the lives of youth of color, poor youth and the well-being of their communities by reducing the adverse impacts of public and private youth-serving systems to ensure fairness and equity throughout the juvenile justice system.

Core Strategic Approach

  1. We work in sites across the country to bring officials from law enforcement, legal systems and child welfare together with community leaders, parents and children, and lead them through a data-driven, consensus-based approach to change policies, procedures and practices that result in the detention of low-offending youth of color and poor youth.
  2. With our program, the Community Justice Network for Youth (CJNY), we build the capacity of local organizations to improve and strengthen their programs, and to engage in policy work.

Core Values:

  • Children cannot be rehabilitated when housed in cages.
  • All young people deserve to be treated equally and fairly.
  • All youth should be heard and included in the decision-making processes that impact their lives.
  • A majority of youth in trouble with the law are best served by alternatives to detention.
  • The process of making change and achieving fairness and equity for youth of color and poor children must be one that is intentionally inclusive of many voices and opinions by convening traditional adversaries and creating an environment that is respectful of divergent views.
  • When youth of color and poor children are provided resources, guidance, support, safety and positive interventions, they can fulfill their potential as contributing members of their communities.
  • We must intentionally engage communities in an effort to hold youth-serving systems accountable.
  • A data-driven approach is essential to address systemic bias and racism.

The BI has worked in more than 40 jurisdictions nationally and achieved significant results in reducing racial and ethnic disparities. The BI model is dynamic and innovative because it proves that reducing disparities is a solvable problem. Through its services and its 140-member national network, the Community Justice Network for Youth (CJNY), the BI provides support to organizations that provide alternatives to detention and arms local organizations with the tools and staff to strengthen their programs and engage in policy work.