YWFC’s Freedom Research Institute formalized our historic work collecting and analyzing our own data on our own experience so that we can tell our own stories and identify and promote our own solutions. The Freedom Research Institute uses participatory, community-driven research as a tool for social and political transformation. It is committed to decolonizing traditional academic methods by centering the voices of those most impacted by systemic violence. The Institute practices a collaborative, ethical model of research that can be replicated to drive local, state, and national policy. We provide opportunities and training for system-impacted youth to lead research and become experts in the field of justice reform. Our work investigates how marginalized communities navigate ecosystems of criminalization such as juvenile and adult justice, housing, foster care, and education to create opportunities for the most impacted to achieve self-determined futures.


Produce knowledge by those most impacted

Shift the narrative on who can be considered an expert

Work with system stakeholders to directly influence policy and practice

Use findings to support organizing and advocacy work of community-based organizations

Bring together researchers from diverse backgrounds to work together in collaborative teams

Address traditional power dynamics by questioning knowledge production and the purpose of research


YWFC Housing Paper: Reflecting on our COVID Emergency Housing Program

This report is a small window into our experience providing safe and supportive emergency housing differently with our communities during uncertain times.

Through their Eyes: Stories of Reflection, Resistance, and Resilience on Juvenile Incarceration from San Francisco cis and trans young women, trans young men, and gender-expansive youth

A research report that illuminates the experiences of 51 system-impacted cis and trans young women, trans men and young men, and gender-expansive youth who experienced the juvenile delinquency system, incarceration, and probation in San Francisco.

A Radical Model for Decriminalization: Centering the Lives of San Francisco system-involved cis and trans young women, trans men and young men, and gender-expansive youth and adults – a participatory and decolonizing model,

A research report that explores and understands how system-involved people navigate multiple governmental systems: housing, healthcare, judicial, and the job market to create self-determined futures.