Our Story

"See me for who I am, not for who you think I am. See me for who I am and who I can become."

Learn why lifelong advocate for girls and young women, and leading philanthropist, Delores Barr Weaver supports the Policy Center.

The Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center advances the rights of girls* and elevates justice reform, gender equity, and system accountability through research-based community solutions and bold policy- all with a girl-centered approach. Our work promotes a deeper understanding, the Policy Center wants to provide safe, healing, equitable alternatives to incarceration. 

Conceptualized in 2007, when more girls where being locked up in Jacksonville than in Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and Tampa combined, the Policy Center officially opened in 2013 to address these alarming incarceration rates and the horrific abuse girls were experiencing while in lock up. It was in one of those commitment programs that founder, Dr. Lawanda Ravoira, met 14-year old Maria, whose words became the inspirational rallying cry for the Policy Center’s Justice for Girls Movement.


Maria arrived in a foster home at 7 years old. Soon, she started running away and was eventually arrested for truancy and stealing food. Her behavior was caused by years of trauma, but few adults took the time to understand her troubles. Inside, Maria was just a young girl who loved math and poetry and dreamed of going to college. As she spiraled deeper into the justice system, her sole desire was for someone, anyone to see her as a young girl with potential for a brighter future, despite her present circumstances.


Dr. Ravoira and a group of dedicated community leaders committed to developing a comprehensive, long term solution to help girls like Maria. This solution would provide a holistic, girl-centered approach. Philathropist Delores Barr Weaver generously agreed to provide initial funding for an innovative organization that would lead the Justice for Girls movement by creatively connecting three distinct areas of focus: Advocacy & Public Policy, Research & Best Practices, and Model Programming.


Since inception in 2013, The Policy Center consistently leads with innovation, boldness, and expertise to advance the Justice for Girls Movement. The Policy Center drives large scale, research-based reform with nationally recognized programming and training models. Our independent reports serve as expert resources for justice reform work, our trainings and model programming are replicated nationally, and our work results in dramatically lower incarceration rates for girls in the communities we serve.