Our Policy Initiative

Acknowledging the Ceilings

Former Mayor Otis Johnson’s notes on the history of Savannah’s fight to desegregate public schools, a topic of Deep Center’s Policy Action Committee.

Deep Center works from a root-cause framework. We recognize that the vast majority of the barriers our young people and their families face were not put there by them. In an inequitable ecosystem that is the product of an unjust history, placing the burden of change only on young people and vulnerable populations ignores their day-to-day realities, sets them up to fail, and, most importantly, misses the root causes of their challenges. Far too often Deep has lifted up youth and families only to see them bump into ceilings they did not build. We have come to understand that, in order for us to truly support Savannah’s youth and families, we must lift them up while simultaneously working to dismantle these ceilings.


Deep has convened two teams (the Action Research Team and the Policy Action Committee) made up of youth, family members, local community stakeholders, and national experts to research and identify the administrative and legislative policies that are harming Chatham County’s families. The first phase of this research and dialogue culminated in late 2019, when Deep and our youth leaders, in partnership with Dr. Kevin Burke of the University of Georgia and published 1) our research findings and 2) our first ever  policy brief published in 2019, Our Stories Are the Evidence: Youth-Powered Policies for a More Just and Equitable Savannah, which  identified policies that, if enacted, would make Savannah a safe and supportive place for working-class young people, youth of color, and other marginalized young people and their families.

Since then, Deep has committed to systems change work, publishing two more policy briefs, Rapid Responses, New Realities: Deep Center’s COVID-19 Policy Recommendations, and our 2020 policy brief, Building a Restorative Community: Recommendations for City, County, State, School Board, Law Enforcement, and Beyond.

Institutional Partners

In addition to our local team, the following regional and national organizations are partnering with Deep to lend expertise, research, a national framework for strategizing and networking, and training on the ground for Deep staff members and youth leaders.


Deep Center’s policy work is funded and supported in part by the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, Public Welfare Foundation, Ford Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation through its Forward Promise initiative, and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.