Beyond Emancipation

B:E Executive Director Vanetta Johnson Receives National Social Justice Award

The New York Life Foundation honored B:E’s Executive Director Vanetta Johnson for her leadership and awarded B:E with a $25,000 grant for the impact the organization is making in the area of social justice. In Fall 2021, the grant was given as part of New York Life Foundation’s national Love Takes Action Award program that honors community leaders and supports nonprofit organizations who are making an impact in two areas: COVID-19 response and social justice. Johnson is one of only 20 people in the nation to be honored.

“One in every 8 black children lives in foster care. As someone who lived most of my childhood in the foster care system, I am dedicated to helping these young people – especially those of color – get the support they need to thrive as adults,” said Johnson. “This $25,000 award will go directly into our programs to help emancipated youth with education, job training, housing and more,” said Johnson.

New York Life employee Thuy Nguyen nominated Johnson: “Vanetta herself grew up in foster care from four until she turned 18. She is a living example of what foster youth can achieve. I’m blown away by her commitment and dedication to helping these young people thrive despite the obstacles life has thrown in their way,” said Nguyen.

This year’s Love Takes Action Award program provided $25,000 to 20 nonprofit organizations. New York Life employees and agents were invited to nominate extraordinary individuals serving their communities. Ten awards were given in the COVID-19 response category and 10 in the social justice category.

“The New York Life Foundation is proud to invest in programs like B:E that benefit young people and help them meet life’s challenges with life-changing support,” said Marlyn Torres, who manages the Love Takes Action Award program and serves as the senior program officer, New York Life Foundation.

Beyond Emancipation & Social Justice

Under Johnson’s leadership, B:E serves young people ages 14-24 who have lived in the foster care system in Alameda County. The population they serve is diverse: 57% are African American and over 85% are BIPOC.

One in eight black children in California spends time in foster care – a rate three times as high as white children. As a Black leader, Johnson is committed to leading efforts at B:E to train the next generation of social justice leaders.

For over 25 years, Beyond Emancipation has supported young people as they imagine and create their own life beyond foster care. B:E supports youth in the areas of housing, education & employment, and life skills, delivering all services through a strength-based approach that empowers youth to choose their path. B:E believes that the person closest to the problem is closest to the solution, and envisions a more equitable world where all young people with experience in foster care thrive as adults. B:E is based in Oakland and supports over 500 foster youth across the Bay Area each year.