Social Justice Collective Takes Flight

Throughout its history, BOSS has focused on dual goals: providing direct services to those in need, and fighting the root causes of inequity to achieve long-term change. The BOSS Community Organizing Team (COT), created in 1994, engaged homeless and low income people in efforts to change policies related to civil rights/anti-panhandling measures, welfare/income rights, affordable transportation, and more. Since then, COT evolved into the current BOSS Social Justice Collective (SJC), a leadership development and advocacy initiative focused on engaging justice-involved individuals in helping to inform, shape, and fight for criminal justice reform, by sharing their personal experiences and knowledge.

The SJC is rooted in social justice classes that take place weekly at our Career Training and Employment Center (CTEC) in downtown Oakland, with approximately 10-15 participants per class. Classes teach reentry individuals about the history of the criminal justice system and social justice reform movements, about current policy reform campaigns, and about techniques for sharing their voice and getting actively involved in solutions.

SJC participants were instrumental in organizing the Breaking Barriers event that BOSS held in late 2017, bringing justice-impacted individuals together with professionals in the field, to brainstorm solutions, and the two Get Out The Vote rallies BOSS held last year. SJC leaders also participated in a two-year statewide initiative to coalesce the solutions put forward from that event with similar events statewide, into a policy paper recently released by Californians for Safety and Justice (CSJ), The Road to Redemption.

Currently, SJC is working with CSJ on a long-term voter registration campaign leading up to the 2020 elections, and on forming n Reentry Advisory Group to advise Alameda County Supervisors on reentry issues.

For more information, contact Tim Smith, BOSS Director of Reentry Strategic Partnerships, at or (510) 649-1930 x 3008.

The Social Justice Collective (SJC) is supported by grants from Alameda County Innovations, Anthem, and The San Francisco Foundation.