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Alumnae named best emerging social innovators of 2011

Loyola press release - June 20, 2011

Two Loyola University New Orleans College of Law graduates, Ameca Reali, J.D. ’11 and Adrienne Wheeler, J.D. ’11, founders of Cooperative Advocacy for the People, were chosen as 2011 Echoing Green Fellows. Reali and Wheeler, along with 20 others, were selected for their commitment to social change in the fields of human rights, health and the environment, among others.

To accelerate social change, Echoing Green invests in and supports outstanding emerging social entrepreneurs to launch new organizations that deliver bold, high-impact solutions. Since it was founded by growth equity firm General Atlantic in 1987, it has invested nearly $32 million in more than 500 social entrepreneurs. Fellows were chosen based on a rigorous selection process from a pool of 2,854 applicants from more than 100 countries.

Cooperative Advocacy for the People's mission is to tackle the deficiencies in the post-conviction phase of the criminal justice system while creating collaborative space for advocates in New Orleans. “We broadly seek to provide indigent services that are not regularly offered in Orleans Parish or Louisiana that is supported through a mutually beneficial cooperative structure,” said Wheeler.

Even while preparing to graduate, Reali and Wheeler had been working for the last year to get Cooperative Advocacy for the People off the ground. They have met with advocates across the country on best practices and have been mentored by two local organizers, John Thompson and Norris Henderson.

Some of the objectives of the organization include creating access to justice for incarcerated populations through letter writing, trend tracking, post-conviction relief, and expungements. They also seek to generate a positive reputation for criminal justice advocacy on behalf of the people of New Orleans and Louisiana.

“We are overcome with joy for the recognition of an innovative project that addresses criminal justice accountability in New Orleans and Louisiana,” said Wheeler. “As we make our first steps, we look forward to the potential to replicate this process in other parts of the country with similar problems.”

Cooperative Advocacy for the People will receive seed funding of up to $90,000 through the next two years, health insurance, strategic planning support, legal assistance, and financial modeling, as well as mentoring from Echoing Green’s network of alumni and other leading social change professionals.

“Louisiana incarcerates more people than any state in the country in a nation that jails more people than anywhere else in the world,” said Reali. “This astounding fact has pushed us to rethink the way our criminal justice system operates and to provide avenues toward accountability that lifts instead of incarcerates our communities. Through this fellowship, Echoing Green has provided an opportunity for those affected by the criminal justice system to have a place to work toward collective solution building.”

For more information, contact James Shields in the Office of Public Affairs at 504-861-5888 or jshields@loyno.edu.

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LoyNews is an e-newswire produced by the Loyola University New Orleans Office of Public Affairs. LoyNews is distributed weekly to local, regional and national news media outlets, communicating the latest news and accomplishments of the university and its community.