True pioneers often set out with limited resources, no clear path and no instructions. Nonetheless, they move boldly forward.
In 1984, Douglas Lasdon launched the Urban Justice Center (UJC) in much the same way, from a burned out building in East Harlem, with almost no funding. He took his legal expertise to soup kitchens, jails, and shelters (places others would not go) and set up free legal clinics. Forty years later, in spite of social opposition and division, UJC remains a champion of change.
Today, UJC is composed of many longstanding Anchor Projects, who serve tens of thousands of people a year, on critical issues ranging from homelessness, to discrimination, to seeking asylum, to escaping intimate partner violence. Each Project is led by experts in the field, who devise their own strategy for making change, often combining free direct legal services to those in need with impact litigation, social services, community organizing, legislative advocacy, “know your rights” trainings, and more.
As well, through our Social Justice Accelerator, we incubate groundbreaking new projects that are fighting new wrongs or bringing new approaches to longstanding issues. By providing them with material support, guidance, and a community of fellow advocates with hundreds of cumulative hours of experience, we help them leap over the early, difficult stages of nonprofits growth, and get directly to affecting change in their issue area.
This two-pronged approach allows us to meet the ongoing advocacy needs of our clients, while allowing us to stay nimble and meet new and emerging social justice issues. To find out more, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram; check out our website; or sign up for our Justice Elerts newsletter.
Our work is made possible by an incredible network of supporters, from generous individuals to socially responsible corporations.
Watch a short video about our work, starring former UJC staff member, Senator Cory Booker:
We were generously given permission to use the photo at the top of our home page by its creator, Yuki Iwamura, a freelance photographer based in New York and originally born and raised in Nagano, Japan. He is the 2020 recipient of the Ian Parry Scholarship Award and a recent graduate of the Documentary Practice and Visual Journalism program at the International Center of Photography in New York.