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2020 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Katal Center For Equity, Health, and Justice

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Civil Rights, Intergroup & Race Relations, Minority Rights, Race

Mission: Katal works to strengthen the people, policies, institutions, and movements that advance health, equity, and justice for everyone. We envision a world where all communities have the resources and power to exercise self-determination and participate meaningfully in the democratic process. We launched in 2016 with three big, interrelated goals: to build leadership and organizing capacity of neighborhood residents, as well as organizers, advocates, and community groups, to effectively drive and shape systemic change; to end mass criminalization, mass incarceration, and the war on drugs; and to advance solutions to promote and secure health, equity, and justice. Our work is governed by the following ethics and beliefs: 1) We do not do for others what they can do for themselves (iron rule of organizing). 2) We meet people where they’re at (core principle of harm reduction). 3) People directly affected by the issue are the best representatives on those issues. 4) Organizing thrives when new knowledge is built and existing knowledge is critically analyzed, contextualized, and evaluated. 5) Targeted direct action and occupying political spaces are forms of communication. 6) Effectively employing existing networks can be just as valuable as establishing new networks. 7) Developing responsible leadership is critical to building people-powered movements. We know effective community organizing, informed by an analysis of systemic racism can take on critical problems like mass criminalization, poverty, hunger and homelessness and reshape them into winnable issues and attainable victories. We want Katal to be a center for movement building where community organizing tools are available to directly impacted people and marginalized communities to achieve desired system changes.

Results: With our members and allies, we are fighting against mass incarceration and the broken criminal legal systems in Connecticut and New York. In 2019 we passed groundbreaking pretrial reform legislation in New York. Those reforms took effect in January this year, cutting jail populations statewide, including a 40 percent reduction in New York City, a critical step to closing the Rikers Island jail complex. Then we defended the new bail laws against well-funded efforts to repeal them. And we addressed and joined the national reckoning about racism through our writings, our organizing, and our direct actions. In Connecticut, where racial disparities in mass incarceration are particularly stark, we organized to demand justice for incarcerated people and their families. In New York, we built momentum for our #LessIsMoreNY Act, a bill that would impact nearly 40,000 people on parole statewide—mostly Black and Latinx people—and could lead to the release of more than 5,000 people from prisons and jails (that’s more than 15% of the overall state prison population). We launched two campaigns—#FreeThemNowCT and #FreeThemNowNY—to demand the release of people from jails and prisons in the face of COVID-19. We organized thousands of people to take action with us online and in person (socially distanced!); testified before state legislatures; pushed the issue into the forefront of mainstream Connecticut news coverage and spurred the Lamont administration to release hundreds of people from prisons; and with our partners statewide helped secure the release of nearly 1,000 people from jails in New York. We also convened two national Zoom calls to discuss the impact of COVID-19 at the intersections of housing, health care, the drug war, mass incarceration, and more. This year we expanded our flagship training program, Building Leadership and Organizing Capacity (BLOC), including our Connecticut Organizer Roundtable. In that setting, nearly two dozen community organizers—mostly women of color—met monthly through the year, via Zoom, for peer-to-peer learning, coaching, and mentoring. Three more young people completed our Organizer Apprenticeship this year. And we conducted more than 100 coaching sessions with organizers and advocates around the country. We also continued convening our popular statewide criminal justice reform calls, which bring together hundreds of people every month—including directly impacted people, community leaders, and advocates—to share information and build momentum for state-based campaigns to end mass incarceration. We’re heading into 2021 with momentum and big plans—including fighting to decarcerate and close prisons in Connecticut, passing parole reform and closing the Rikers Island jail complex in New York, and expanding our BLOC training program. Katal’s dedicated staff and board are focused and ready. Our amazing members are energized. We know we’ll succeed by working together, in partnership with our supporters and allies.

Target demographics: To build leadership and organizing capacity of neighborhood residents, as well as organizers, advocates and community groups, to effectively drive and shape change; ending mass criminalization, mass incarceration and the war on drugs; and advancing solutions to promote and secure health, equity and justice.

Direct beneficiaries per year: We co-founded the campaign to close Rikers Island. We are a co-founder and co-leader of the #LessIsMoreNY campaign, which is working to pass comprehensive change to how New York State addresses technical violations of parole. We are leading efforts around bail reform in NY, training community organizers in CT and NY, coordinating municipal arrest diversion programs, working to advance overdose prevention efforts, and more. We are building leadership and organizing capacity in neighborhoods impacted by the war on drugs, mass incarceration, poverty, and inequality.

Geographic areas served: Connecticut and New York

Programs: Community organizing, policy advocacy, trainings to build leadership and organizing capacity, public education, research, and more. We combine harm reduction and grassroots organizing to build community power and public will for systemic change.

Community Stories

33 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Katal is an amazing organization built from the ground up by an outstanding groups of leaders. With offices in NY & CT, Katal focuses on health, equity and justice and has already proven their ability to build power and develop leadership. Katal's work will change the world, especially through their criminal justice reform.

Donor

Rating: 5

I am proud to have been a funding partner of Katal since it’s inception. There are many stand out things about their work, but one of the most critical
Is the depth of their commitment to advancing the collective strength of the organizing field in the states where they work. They always operate with an eye towards building collective power - and that includes building the capacity and leadership of other organizers - and organizations through efforts like the organizer roundtables. They have been an essential partner in our own efforts to advance youth led social change, and have a profound commitment to supporting the voice and leadership of young people alongside others to transform communities.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am so grateful for all of the hard work and effort put forth by this organizing team. They make a distinct effort to involve all community members and offer support and resources as well!

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Over the past four years, Katal has proven to be a national leader to end mass incarceration and the war on drug users. Their leadership cultivation efforts promote a healthier and safer today ... and tomorrow. We continue to be a fan from Denver and thank them for their hard work and dedication to all of our community members!!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Katal has worked tirelessly to close Rikers, to address the spread of COVID-19 among incarcerated persons, and much more. Their team members are engaged in the community and living their mission. This is an org of thoughtful and driven people doing crucially important work every day. Thank you, Katal!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Katal Center is dedicated to changing our broken systems such as criminal justice and healthcare. They work with the directly impacted, community, and worldwide organizations to foster change for right now and the future. Their work has closed jails in CT and NY along with drug policy reform at the local and legislative levels. Katal is a great organization.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Katal Center is a great organization run by two very dedicated and experienced people, who have committed their lives to empowering others to seek the change necessary to create a more equal and just society.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Katal is a community advocate and a collaborative partner. They are a joy to work with and truly know how to empower individuals in order to create healthy communities.

Phillip C.2

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Katal is a non-profit that has demonstrated its seasoned ability to directly engage the communities they serve. During the past few years working with them, I've seen that they actively develop local community leaders and help to build relationships locally between Hartford neighborhoods which don't often engage with each other.
Katal's efforts have helped myself and neighbors to not only understand the legislative process but also how to be actively engaged in it as a unified body of empowered individuals.
As a student getting my Master's degree to practice in healthcare as a Physician Assistant I appreciate their focus on Health, Equity, and Justice.
Katal has helped to bring a lot of attention to the numerous determinants of health that affect people from our city. This work by Katal is encouraging because there are many medical educational institutions in our area who have refused to acknowledge the need for these conversations until Katal stepped in to help equip students with the skills to bring this discussion into their university space.

Chiedza R.

Board Member

Rating: 5

The Katal Center for Health Equity and Justice is an amazing organization that serves as a catalyst for change and power building. They center the voices of those affected by the issues addressed through community organizing. They walk the talk, " nothing for us without us". They are deeply imbedded and invested in the communities they serve and center the voices of people of color. Lorenzo and gabriel provide strong and strategic leadership.
I am proud to support this organization from its inception. They speak truth to power and teach others how to do the same.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

You guys have already done so much to effect needed change, and you inspire me to keep working hard to bring about further change. Thank you!!!

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I believe in Katals work for justice. Their push to close jails is critically needed.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Loving Katal and what it as an organization and they as a community stand for. I believe their work to end the war on drugs and to prevent accidental overdose will prevail!

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Katal is doing inspiring work that directly impacts drug and criminal justice reform. With so many successes already, I have no doubt they will achieve their goal of ending the war on drugs and mass criminalization--and play a huge role in creating healthier communities. Katal is a powerful group of people, who are relentlessly hard working, and truly catalysts for social justice. It's exciting to feel the momentum gather around the projects and campaigns Katal moves forward with!

2 Lukas Jay G.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

This team is doing amazing work throughout the Capital Region and the whole state of NY for that matter. From advocacy to community organizing, I believe Katal is having a direct impact on how policies are being formed and reformed. I am so grateful for Katal as they are paving the way with harm reduction principles in all of the work they do.

3 Patrick Doyle L.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Keith Brown and entire Katal staff are doing groundbreaking work transforming communities in the areas of criminal justice, substance use harm reduction, civil and human rights. Katal is critical to the many reforms we need today, and will continue to need in the future. Thank you for your great work, Katal!

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I'm biased, I've known gabriel for over half my life.
I'm also unbiased, Katal represents not only his accomplishments, but the whole staff's as well.
I'm also observant, I watched as Katal put together and participated in the movement to close Riker's, a massive undertaking for a fledgling nonprofit.
I'm also extremely analytical, based upon gabriel's success in creating a coalition to realign the movement to end the Rockefeller Drug Laws, I knew Katal's participation would lead to success.
I was also right to have such faith in Katal.

I'm sharing this experience so that you can enjoy being right too. Support Katal in their work, and be on the right side of social justice, but also of victory in movements against ancient leviathans of social regression.

2 Dinah O.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Amazing organization! Love that women are at the forefront!

2 Matt M.4

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

One of the most strategic and effective organizations in the field. At this critical time, Katal is crucially needed.

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Katal is outstanding. Their impact on drug policy and criminal justice reform shows, truly, that “a small group of committed individuals” can indeed make huge systematic changes.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

This has been one of the most informative and effective organizations I have had the opportunity to participate with in regards to Bail reform and social injustice. I look forward to experiencing what Katal we do next!

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

It's absolutely crystal clear how the Katal team is so methodically dedicated, with unwavering accountability and commitment.

2

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Katal is strategic, experienced, accountable, and they know how to win. They are an enormous asset to criminal justice reform in New York.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Since inception, Katal has provided such needed vision, movement building and on the ground support toward the root issues beneath the surface of mass incarceration. Their work is smart and easy to participate in. Props to the good work and good people of Katal!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Katal, my introduction was by happenstance. I was invited to a screening of a film that the invited guest was not able to attend. In that moment, I met Gabriel and I thought that, I was just meeting someone with a common interest in justice; criminal justice. I was there as a guest of author Donna Hylton. I, by chance, had Donna 's documentary "A walk To Freedom" on my iPhone and we screened it. In that time, Gabriel made a believer out of me; not just a believer but now an involved member of a movement. He explained to me the importance of personal involvement. In many ways, you can call it life-changing. I now see the disenfranchised with a different set of eyes. Now, my friend Donna Hylton, is a Katal Fellow and I could not have thought of a better choice. So if you choose to donate to a nonprofit, Katal, should be that choice. They are at the forefront of change and have a team of agents of change. Press donate and become an agent of change! I did.

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Amazing and passionate group! Keith Brown is fantastic.

1 Sheila W.1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

As a community advocate, I have seen Keith Brown in action and his energy, motivation, and heart are just amazing.

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Everybody at the Katal Center has been so wonderful to work with, they are all dedicated and passionate about creating change that would benefit all of us. It's really refreshing to see such a trailblazing organization care they way they do.

1 Markii E.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Having worked in the field for some years I have seen the excellent work being done and I continue to follow the groundbreaking, life changing and life saving work being done by the KATAL CENTER FOR HEALTH, EQUITY, AND JUSTICE.

2 Dylan S.3

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Fantastic organization that does important work in harm reduction.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Katal has years of experience fighting for criminal justice reform and are leaders in transforming policy that works for the greater good!

5 Alexis P.1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I love Katal Center! They are all amazing people to work with and they help elevate the work of others. Keith always makes our people feel loved, empowered and welcome. Precisely what we need when we are trying to save lives!

4 Corinne C.1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

The folks at Katal really have their fingers on the pulse of modern social justice movements and the intersections of public policy that drive inequity. The organization is nimble, visible, and utilizes effective messaging. I appreciate the fact that leadership is reflective of our society, and I look forward to seeing what's next for the organization.