Social Movement Support Lab
Where University of Denver students, faculty, staff and alums work alongside communities fighting for racial justice
The Social Movement Support Lab fights systemic racism by partnering with the communities most directly affected by it and providing them with unmatched, multidisciplinary support they need to create transformative social change. We work in the parts of the US where young people are routinely pushed out of school, where the criminal legal system is most devastating, and where there always seems to be enough money for more police or a new jail but there never seems to be enough for education, affordable housing, and mental and behavioral health services. In those communities, our teams of students, faculty, staff, and alums meet the critical research, organizing, policy, legal, and communications needs of grassroots organizations engaged in cutting-edge campaigns to address the most significant barriers to racial justice. For example, we support efforts to:
- Shrink the mass criminalization and incarceration systems;
- Dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline; and
- Remedy the over-investment in systems that harm BIPOC communities alongside the under-investment in those that support their health and well-being.
Through deep engagement with our partners, we expand their bandwidth and level the severely unequal playing field they face as they lead the fight to end systemic racism and build a more equitable society.
The Social Movement Support Lab also operates DefundData.org, which provides essential budgetary data on the expansion of mass criminalization and incarceration across the US.
Jim Freeman, Director
Jim Freeman is a racial justice movement lawyer who works with communities of color across the U.S. to address issues of systemic racism and create positive social change. He has supported dozens of grassroots-led efforts to end mass criminalization and incarceration, achieve education equity, dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline, protect immigrants’ rights, and create a more inclusive and participatory democracy. He is the author of Rich Thanks to Racism: How the Ultra-Wealthy Profit from Racial Injustice (Cornell: 2021).
Freeman was formerly a Senior Attorney at Advancement Project, a national civil rights organization, where he directed the Ending the Schoolhouse-to-Jailhouse Track project. He served under President Obama as a Commissioner on the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans. Freeman is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and Harvard Law School, and was an editor on the Harvard Law Review. He is a former Skadden Fellow, clerked for Judge James R. Browning on the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, and has been an Adjunct Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center. He currently teaches “Movement Lawyering” and “Supporting Social Movements” at the University of Denver.
Dr. Jackie del Castillo, IRISE Postdoctoral Fellow
Dr. Jacqueline del Castillo is a social scientist who cares about making good health possible for everyone. Her research centers activists in health social movement research and focuses on the lived experience of activists and how social movements aid innovation. She has worked with activists, funders and policymakers to strengthen movement organizing efforts through the development of useful practical tools, evidence and theory. Alongside completing a PhD at Imperial College London, she served as a Senior Fellow to the Blue Shield of California Foundation to advise a movement-building strategy to end domestic violence and worked with Nesta Health Lab, a UK innovation think tank, to establish the first UK social movement incubation program, strategically support NHS England’s Health as a Social Movement programme and produce two social movement policy reports, including The Power of People in Movements (2016) and We Change the World: What can we learn from global social movements for health? (2017). She currently serves on the World Economic Forum Council on Equity and Social Justice.
Jacqueline has over 17 years of experience in health innovation, including as a senior designer at the Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation and the Helix Centre for Design in London. An affordable medical device she contributed to has averted over 19,000 newborns worldwide from death and disability. Jacqueline received her MS and BS in Engineering from Stanford University where she trained at the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design. She has taught at University of Oxford, Royal College of Art, Berkeley, Stanford and Imperial College London. One of Jacqueline’s movement-building workshops spawned a new research program on “Movements of Movements” at Oxford Saïd Business School.