LOS ANGELES (August 25, 2020) – A New Way of Life Reentry Project today announced an extension of the collaboration with W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) that led to the creation of Testif-i, a multimedia platform featuring the stories of women and children who have been directly impacted by incarceration. The Testif-i project will be funded for another three years, thanks to a generous $600,000 grant from the Kellogg Foundation.
“We are so thankful to WKKF for getting behind the vision for Testif-i from the very start,” says Susan Burton, founder of Testif-i and its parent organization, A New Way of Life Reentry Project. “WKKF understands the importance of storytelling and of creating greater visibility for formerly incarcerated women and their children, whose stories are too seldom heard.”
Testif-i was founded in 2017 with the objective of giving voice to a population that has been largely overlooked in the national conversation on mass incarceration: women and children. The Testif-i website acts as a repository for video interviews with formerly incarcerated women and the children they left behind when they went to prison. These stories explore the ways that incarceration affects women and their children: How do mothers maintain communication with their children while they’re away? What is it like to give birth in prison? What are the challenges when a woman reenters society — both in terms of family reunification and finding jobs or housing? And what is the impact on children who are placed in the foster care system when their mother goes to prison? Each story highlights a woman or a child’s direct experience with incarceration. Testif-i.com also provides resources for people who are interested in learning more about mass incarceration and becoming involved in the movement to end it.
The project has been on hiatus during 2020, due to social distancing requirements. However, over the past few years, Testif-i has featured numerous voices including:
A mother who has closed the revolving door of prison and now works to promote quality of life for formerly incarcerated persons through her work in civic engagement.
A survivor of sex-trafficking who was originally sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, but who, thanks to a viral video and subsequent human rights campaign, was paroled from prison almost seven years ago.
An 11-year-old girl who reflected on the impact that her mother’s prison sentence had upon her early childhood.
A formerly incarcerated woman who was devastated when the job offer she’d received from one of the largest tech companies in the world was wrongfully rescinded, but who fought tooth and nail for her rights — and is now a top-performing employee.
Testif-i also produces multiple living library events, where community members can sit down with formerly incarcerated women and their children and ask them questions about their lived experiences.
It’s important for the community and formerly incarcerated women to engage with each other so that people have a clear understanding of who formerly incarcerated women really are, Burton says.
“The living libraries are at the heart of Testif-i and have been vital in fostering conversations between systems-impacted women and their communities. As these conversations take place, they dispel the myths and erase the stigmas that these women, and their kids, battle every day,” Burton says. “These women have dreams and hopes for their future, just like anyone else, and the purpose of Testif-i is to show that.”
About A New Way of Life Reentry Project
Founded in 1998 by CNN Top 10 Hero Susan Burton, A New Way of Life provides housing and support to formerly incarcerated women for successful community reentry, family reunification and individual healing. ANWOL also works to restore the civil rights of formerly incarcerated people, empowering, organizing and mobilizing advocates for social change, civic engagement and personal transformation.
About the W.K. Kellogg Foundation
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal innovator and entrepreneur Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, WKKF works with communities to create conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life.