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The Center for Institutional and Social Change mission is to advance just and equitable legal and social institutions by anchoring systems change in the leadership of those directly impacted by racism and mass incarceration.
Our Featured Projects & Programs
The Paralegal Pathways Initiative (PPI) seeks to amplify the talents and perspectives of those who have directly experienced incarceration in an effort to create economic opportunity for our participants, advance racial equity in the legal field, build knowledge of the impacts of the criminal legal system among current and future legal professionals, and expose the legal profession to an untapped wealth of legal experience and talent. Click here to learn more about this groundbreaking program.
Breakthrough in Abolition Through Transformative Learning Exchange (BATTLE) engages the leadership of formerly-incarcerated individuals in anchoring people-centered systems’ change responses to the impact of mass incarceration and structural racism on the social and economic infrastructure of marginalized communities. Click here to learn more about this innovative program.
This Spring 2021 course and practicum, the first of its kind, will enable participants to blend artistry, law, policy, and community engagement, and in this way to produce narratives with powerful impact in policy spaces where change can happen. The course will equip law students to tell powerful stories--themselves and in collaboration with artists and community members--and use legal knowledge and skills to amplify artists’ and community activists’ impact in venues where laws are made and power is exercised. The workshop will also build artists’ capacity to merge high quality, high impact, rigorous artistry with community narratives and research & high level policy activists. In the process all the participants will work with community members to amplify the power of their stories through artistry informed by legal and policy research. With criminal justice and education as the policy focal point, the workshop will enable participants to craft and enact compelling stories about justice and injustice in “theaters for change” where they can shift hearts and minds of thought leaders and policy makers. Click here to learn more about the course and how to apply.
PPI kicked off in 2018 and is a quid pro quo of sorts. Formerly incarcerated people work alongside Columbia Law students. The students learn about the criminal justice system from someone with “lived experience,” and the former incarcerated sharpen their legal and professional skills.
Paralegal Pathways Initiative (PPI) is extending the arm of law into a helping hand for formerly incarcerated New Yorkers. Housed in Columbia Law School, the program fosters participants’ experience navigating the criminal legal justice system into potential careers in the law field.