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Advancing Real Change, Inc. released a new ten-year strategic plan!

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Towards a More Just World: Ten-Year Strategic Plan

A new strategic plan for Advancing Real Change, Inc. to guide the organization for the next ten years.

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A new strategic Approach

An expanded vision for Advancing Real Change, Inc.

In 2023, the staff and board of Advancing Real Change, Inc. undertook a strategic planning process to guide our work over the next decade. We have sought to broaden our vision of the ways that justice can be enacted. Direct casework has always been central to our organization and will continue to be so. With this plan, we also look to the ways that what we learn through our work can change the path for those to come.

Our vision of justice, which is rooted in empathy, dignity, and equity, will require us to significantly build our capacity and grow the support and partnership of our community. We are committed to engaging in this process because we know it will move all of us toward a more just world.

The mission of Advancing Real Change, Inc. is to create a more just world by advancing empathy, dignity, and equity within and beyond the criminal legal system.

In pursuit of our expanded vision and mission, the ARC staff and our board of directors worked together to create a new strategic plan with three areas of focus. There is naturally overlap between these three areas and our work in each will strengthen our work in the others. 

While this strategic plan expands the types of activities that have defined us as an organization, every element of the plan grows from the values mitigation investigation has taught us.

Our Vision

ARC envisions a world where causing one another irreversible harm is an anomaly, not a daily occurrence. We unearth the true histories of people accused of crimes and share their stories with decision-makers to foster empathy and understanding. We aim to take what we learn through this work—mitigation investigation—and uplift those experiences to reshape and rebuild social systems so that communities and individuals may truly flourish. Our vision is the transformation of the criminal legal system and all social systems into systems that deliver true justice.


Three strategies to create a more just world

Make high-quality mitigation investigation a recognized right to those accused of crimes.

Mitigation casework is the foundation for ARC’s activities because effective legal advocacy requires knowing the history of one’s client and placing it at the forefront of the criminal case. ARC will pursue this goal through the following strategies:

Expanding High-Quality Mitigation Investigation

  • Provide mitigation services in capital and juvenile life-without-the- possibility-for-parole cases for indigent clients, providing high-quality mitigation services that are consistent with current professional standards for cases at all stages of litigation.
  • Significantly expand our direct investigative work into other felony cases, providing high-quality mitigation services that reflect the best practices at all stages of litigation.
  • Build a focused presence in strategically selected jurisdictions. Jurisdictions may be chosen due to level of need or for the potential to demonstrate the impact of mitigation investigation and related practices.
  • Conduct educational outreach and develop tools to help judges, budgeting attorneys, and other key decision-makers within the legal system identify standards-compliant mitigation work and to disincentivize non-standards–compliant work.

Developing the Profession

  • Develop curricula for teaching the best practices of mitigation investigation, and presentation for use by educational institutions, starting with schools of law and social work.
  • Build supported pathways to the work of mitigation, such as internships and fellowships, apprenticeships, and mentorship.
  • Implement cutting-edge training techniques to achieve practical gains in skills and knowledge.
  • Increase ease of access to resources by developing training modules, crowdsourced materials, and a centralized hub for real-time information and support.

Sustaining Mitigation Specialists

  • Develop policies and practices to establish a trauma-informed workplace and team environment, and collaborate with other employers and practitioners to increase psychological safety and wellness within organizations and teams.
  • Incorporate the knowledge that culture, gender, race and other aspects of identity impact the way trauma is experienced, recognized, and addressed into every aspect of our work.

Change the narrative around crime.

Existing cultural narratives have primed many to think of crime only through the lens of personal responsibility, obscuring truths about the conditions that influence behavior and society’s role in its creation. ARC’s efforts to prepare the general public to play an active role in the provision of justice will include the following:

  • Implement a communications strategy that highlights the connection between early life experiences and contact with the criminal legal system.
  • Building on our presence in key jurisdictions, work with local advocates to identify policy proposals that could have the greatest impact on equity in legal outcomes, conditions of confinement, preparation for re-entry, and the prevention of future harm.
  • Through reports, public testimony, coalition-building activities, and communications strategy, make the unique expertise that comes with investigating the life histories of people who have caused harm available to legislators and other policy-makers.

Use what we learn through mitigation investigation to minimize harm and promote equity.

We seek a world with less crime. Mitigation investigation reveals patterns of failures within social systems that shape individual behavior in harmful ways. Proactively addressing the failures within these systems increases the chance that a person will grow in healthy ways. Because of the critical role that childhood plays in development, systems that impact children, such as early education, housing, juvenile institutions, and health services, are key points of intervention. ARC will pursue the following strategies in contexts where harm is most commonly perpetuated:

  • Develop new connections with professional associations, governing bodies, and other groups involved in the daily operation and administration of institutions that impact child development.
  • Provide professional development and continuing education opportunities to those professions to raise awareness of key issues.
  • Provide expert commentary to decision-makers in these fields regarding procedures, establishment of best practices, and budget priorities.


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