Coalition Building from the Ground Up

This past January, I participated in the Arrupe International Immersion Program, and had the opportunity to travel to the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Following my Arrupe trip this past January, I thought a lot about what I hoped to do this summer and how I could continue to engage with the lessons I had gained from my time in the DR and Haiti in a meaningful way. Most of all, I wanted to engage directly with members of a marginalized Frank Image 2community. Ultimately, I settled on the Criminal Justice Policy Coalition (CJPC), a non-profit advocacy group that works towards the betterment of the lives of people currently incarcerated in the Massachusetts Department of Corrections. Primarily, they work to reduce the stigma surrounding the way in which individuals are perceived, and advocate for treatment that respects the human dignity of every person.Frank Image 1

Throughout my first two weeks, I have been exposed to numerous projects that CJPC is currently working on, including: corresponding with individuals who are incarcerated to highlight their experiences, organizing a statewide conference on the effects of mass incarceration, raising awareness about the effects of solitary confinement, and attending meetings for various coalitions of which CJPC is a member. My Boston College education has unquestionably prepared me to successfully apply my skills towards contributing to CJPC’s work thus far.

My professors at BC have always held high standards for written and verbal communication. The rigorous training I received in my classes has been incredibly valuable to my assistance with organizing the funding for CJPC’s upcoming conference in September. This past week, I assisted in writing and editing two major grant proposals to area funders and crafted language to serve as a model for writing to individuals incarcerated across the state (our “liaisons”). BC imparted on me the ability to concisely articulate my vision and powerfully convey a particular point of view or desire.

However, I believe that BC has given me an edge not only in my ability to apply my strong communication skills towards preparing for the September conference, but also in my comfort with networking. I have had the opportunity to attend several coalition meetings since starting with CJPC, and each meeting features numerous new faces of individuals working in various areas of criminal justice reform. Because I already feel comfortable conversing with new individuals, and because Boston College has provided me the tools to know how to both approach these conversations and how to be personal yet professional, I have not struggled to form relationships with these individuals. I think that it was been incredibly beneficial for me, as I am starting to work not only with my supervisor at CJPC, but also with some of these other members of various organizations. I am thankful that BC provided me the foundation to make these connections and gain an edge thus far, and I am excited to see where the summer takes me!

Written by Frank DiMartino, BC Class of 2017

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