Alaina assisted foster youth with learning difficulties are often denied appropriate special education services. Academic failure and behavioral problems put them in jeopardy of “crossing over” to the juvenile delinquency system where they drop out of school and face unemployment, homelessness and incarceration. Alaina advocated within the schools and juvenile courts to identify at-risk youth and ensure services are secured; caregivers and stakeholders are trained; and systemic change is informed.
After her Fellowship, Alaina continued to work as a staff attorney at Alliance for Children’s Rights. Currently, she is the senior staff attorney at the Alliance for Children’s Rights. In her current role, she maintains a small number of direct advocacy cases, but focuses the majority of her time on foster youth education legislation, policy and implementation at the local and state level.
The circumstances that a child is born into should not dictate their future; it is the responsibility of those with voices to ensure that every individual has the opportunity to succeed.
Alaina Moonves-Leb /
Equal Justice Works Fellow
Joshua enforced civil liberty protections in Los Angeles communities by challenging unjust gang injunctions through innovative, much-needed representation of individuals, educational outreach, and advocacy.
Gang injunctions impact youth, families, and communities in both visible and invisible ways. Enjoined individuals are prevented from gathering with family and friends in view of the public; they are restricted by curfews and travel limitations within their neighborhoods; they may be evicted from public housing; and, if convicted of an injunction violation, they may be prevented from gaining custody of relative minors held by the city. Beneath the surface, outcomes include youth expectations of harassment by law enforcement, the strengthening of gang affiliations, and the interruption of service provision within communities.
During his Fellowship, Joshua has:
- Developed a template for filing a petition for gang injunction removal with the City Attorney and provided full representation to individuals wrongly enjoined by the City
- Provided advice and referrals to over 100 individuals subject to gang injunctions in communities across Southern California
- Presented and facilitated gang injunction workshops across Southern California, including the L.A. Gang Prevention and Intervention Conference
- Partnered with local community coalitions in efforts to intervene in ongoing gang injunction litigation
- Supported legislative efforts to improve gang injunction accountability
Now that the Fellowship is complete, Josh will continue to support the movement for urban peace and healthy communities as a staff attorney and legal coordinator at the Urban Peace Institute.
Eliza improved student outcomes through a unique school-legal partnership in East Hollywood that will provide legal services in education, housing, and public benefits to students and their families
Students from the high-poverty neighborhood of East Hollywood face problems outside the classroom that affect their ability to thrive in school. The East Hollywood Promise Zone has partnered with local schools to address these problems by providing wraparound services, but the provision of legal services has been very limited to date. Legal issues, such as poor housing conditions, tenuous immigration status, or financial instability, cause chronic stress and impair school performance. These problems are further compounded by harsh discipline policies that push at-risk students out of school. Students living in poverty also often struggle to obtain the academic services they are entitled to, such as accommodations for disabilities and English learner instructional services. This project targets these barriers by providing a full range of legal services and legal education to students and their caregivers through the Promise Zone initiative.
During Eliza’s Fellowship, Eliza:
- Raised awareness of the legal clinic among students and their caregivers
- Began intakes, screenings, and direct representation in school discipline and special education proceedings
- Fostered client referrals by networking with community leaders and organizers, teachers, administrators, Promise Neighborhood staff, and other social service providers
- Reached out to potential pro bono partners, including her sponsors, for referrals
- Began workshops and trainings to clients and community partners