Our Work

What do we do?

The Burns Institute eliminates racial and ethnic disparity by building a community-centered response to youthful misbehavior that is equitable and restorative. We are a grassroots to grasstops organization. We believe innovation comes from the bottom and influences those at the top. That’s why we work with decision makers at the local level to affect change that transforms juvenile justice systems near and far.

How Do we Do It?

We facilitate a collaborative environment where community and system stakeholders strategically use data to reduce racial and ethnic disparities.

We also support capacity building of families and organizations to redirect resources to community-based interventions, thus reducing system involvement.

Where do we Work?

The Burns Institute (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.

Our Current Sites

Our Mission

We exist to advance the well-being of all children. The Burns Institute works to eliminate racial and ethnic disparity by building a community-centered response to youthful misbehavior that is equitable and restorative.

Though many areas of the juvenile justice system deserve reform efforts, the Burns Institute focuses on racial and ethnic disparity because youth of color are the most impacted. By improving outcomes for the children most impacted, we improve outcomes for all young people.

We facilitate a collaborative environment where community and system stakeholders work strategically, using data to reduce racial and ethnic disparity. We support capacity building of families and organizations to redirect resources to community-based interventions, thus reducing system involvement.

Our Values:

  1. The culture and history of people of color is valuable and central to healing.
  2. Systems should use the least restrictive options to address youthful misbehaviors.
  3. Children are best served by caring adults in their communities.
  4. All young people and their families deserve to be treated justly.
  5. Youthful misbehaviors must be addressed through a process that is restorative and equitable.
  6. Child well-being can only be achieved when adults are working relentlessly and urgently.
  7. The perspective of young people, family, and communities is central to the collaborative data-driven process.
  8. Systems must be accountable and share decision-making power with the communities most impacted in order to reach their maximum potential toward child well-being.
  9. Systems must collect, analyze, and utilize data to reduce racial and ethnic disparities and achieve justice.
  10. The existence of racial and ethnic disparities is evidence of injustice.