Brandon Griggs | The Illiteracy-to-Prison Connection

Surveys conducted by the Department of Justice have found that 85% of incarcerated youth can’t read. This unsettling link between illiteracy—something that is determined as early as five years old—and one’s likelihood of arrest is shocking. Given the disproportionate representation of black youth in our juvenile justice system, it’s evident that the lack of good schools, adequate funding, and resources in minority communities are the mechanisms by which African-American students are flushed down the school-to-prison pipeline. Brandon Griggs has witnessed firsthand the inequities that permeate our education system; he’s also proud that as a 4.0 student and EVAC movement member, he is redefining stereotypes and setting an example for other black teens. Juvenile justice reform, Brandon argues, begins in our kindergarten classrooms, because keeping kids out of prison starts with giving them basic literacy skills.

Brandon Griggs

Brandon Griggs is a student activist and advocate for "at-risk" youth who, like him, have lived in the epicenter of gang and gun violence in Jacksonville and experienced its traumatic effects.

A graduate of Robert E. Lee High School and EVAC movement member, Griggs believes youth deserve a voice at the table. He founded Hear the Youth, an organization that fosters constructive conversations between youth and their schools, government, and legislators, allowing students in Jacksonville's lowest-performing school districts to express their needs and create change. Hear the Youth was recently selected as a T-Mobile Changemaker Challenge winner.

In 2020 Brandon was awarded the Princeton Prize in Race Relations; this program recognizes students who, through their volunteer activities, have undertaken significant efforts to advance racial equity and understanding in their schools or communities. He will be attending Brown University in the fall.