Amy Schwabenlender, Richard Crews of Human Services Campus Names Shriver Center Racial Justice Institute Fellows

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Posted By on May 6, 2021
Human Services Campus Executive Director Amy Schwabenlender and Program Director Richard Crews

Human Services Campus Executive Director Amy Schwabenlender and Program Director Richard Crews have been selected to join 45 others as new Fellows with The Shriver Center on Poverty Law. 

The 47 Fellows will participate in the 2021 Racial Justice Institute (RJI), a leadership program that equips and coordinates anti-poverty advocates to affirmatively advance racial equity.

In response to a national call to resolve systemic inequities and structural racism that many communities experience daily, organizations have been challenged to examine their practices and dismantle barriers to opportunity.

The institute believes that legal aid and public interest advocates are key to achieving important systemic changes in their client communities — however, sustainable change must be grounded in an understanding of key race equity concepts and specialized tools.

“We are in the midst of unprecedented times in our county and being selected as a Shriver Center for Racial Justice Institute Fellow is both a humbling and important opportunity to be part of the process to address and develop solutions for issues that are causing so much upheaval and anger,” Schwabenlender said. 

The Shriver Center’s Racial Justice Institute teaches advocates a commitment to race equity as an integral and essential part of anti-poverty advocacy and prepares them to tackle these issues on behalf of the communities they serve.

Following seven months of intensive training, Racial Justice Institute fellows join a growing national network of nearly 300 alumni advancing race equity issues across the country.  

“This is an amazing opportunity at a pivotal time in our nation’s history to build capacity to confront and disrupt racial inequity with change leaders from around the country, while simultaneously creating impact that will be felt and implemented locally in Arizona,” Crews said.

This year’s RJI Fellows include a diverse group of public interest lawyers, legal aid attorneys, community advocates, executive leaders, and even a judge. They come from 16 organizations advancing justice in 10 states, including 11 organizations new to the RJI.

“The COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis, combined with the racial reckoning during the past year, have exposed racial disparities experienced daily in the communities that anti-poverty advocates serve,” said Kimberly Merchant, Director of the Racial Justice Institute and Network. “The Racial Justice Institute equips these advocates to take a strategic, explicit approach to eliminating racial disparities, dismantling barriers to opportunity, and strengthening communities of color.”

The 2021 Fellows come to the Racial Justice Institute with experience in a wide range of advocacy areas, including criminal justice reform, healthcare, second chance opportunities, economic justice, disability justice, immigrants’ rights, and affordable housing. Under the intensive seven-month RJI program that begins in May, the 2021 Fellows will be exposed to a core set of racial equity concepts that they can apply to the advocacy in which they are currently engaging.

Entering its eighth year, the Shriver Center’s Racial Justice Institute has cultivated nearly 300 advocates, representing more than 90 organizations in 31 states and the District of Columbia.

For more information about the Shriver Center on Poverty Law visit www.povertylaw.org. For more information about the Human Services Campus, visit www.hsc-az.org.

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