A New Way of Life (ANWOL) is a grassroots, nonprofit organization founded in 1998 by Susan Burton. After Susan’s five-year old son was accidentally hit and killed by a car, Susan numbed her grief through alcohol and drugs. As a result, she became enmeshed in the criminal justice system for nearly two decades before finding freedom and sobriety in 1997. She has since made it her life’s mission to help other people adversely affected by the problems of incarceration by providing them with safety and support. For her efforts, she was named a CNN Top Ten Hero for 2010. She was also awarded the prestigious Citizen Activist Award from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. In recognition of her insight and leadership, she was appointed by Los Angeles County Supervisor, Mark Ridley Thomas to be a member of the Los Angeles County Sybil Brand Commission for Institutional Inspections. In June of 2013, ANWOL was honored with a Ford Freedom Unsung Award that salutes "organizations that have positively impacted communities with achievements that inform and inspire others.” Susan is currently a recipient of both the Encore Purpose Prize (2012) and a James Irvine Foundation Leadership Award (2014). In 2015, on the 50th Anniversary of Selma and the Voting Rights Act, Susan Burton was named by the Los Angeles Times as one of eighteen New Civil Rights Leaders in the nation.
During 2014, A New Way of Life’s board and staff met over a series of meetings and retreats to create a new strategic and operational plan to guide the organization’s growth over the next three to five years. The board and staff updated the organization’s vision and mission. A new tagline was also created for use in development, marketing, and other promotional materials.
Our Vision: We envision a world where every person can make decisions for his/her own life, is accountable for those decisions and is valued as a contributing member of the community.
Our Mission: A New Way Of Life advances multi-dimensional solutions to the effects of incarceration.
• We provide housing and support to formerly incarcerated women for successful community re-entry, family reunification and individual healing.
• We work to restore the civil rights of formerly incarcerated people.
• We empower, organize and mobilize formerly incarcerated people as advocates for social change and personal transformation.
Tagline: “Linking Promise with Opportunity.”
Our Supportive Reentry Housing Program offers a network of five safe reentry homes in South Los Angeles that provide essential services for up to 25 formerly incarcerated women and their children at a time. Women are provided with pickups from jail or prison, transportation to their appointments, referrals to community services and assistance/advocacy to navigate helping systems. They receive all the necessities of daily living such as healthy meals, clothing and toiletries. They are provided with access to 12-step recovery programs, job training, education, computer training, personal empowerment, financial planning and communication-building workshops – all designed to facilitate their self-sufficiency.
Women separated from their children while incarcerated are further aided through our Family Reunification Program. Our staff social worker and social work interns assist our women residents along every step of the journey to reunification. They are provided with supports needed to comply with the demands of the Court and DCFS.
As the women continue on their journey toward self-sufficiency, our housing advocate works to ultimately assist them with finding, then accessing permanent housing. As they transition to permanent housing, women residents are able to utilize the services of our Distribution Center. Through a relationship with a major retailer of household goods, we receive weekly donations of high-quality items. Our women residents are able to shop for everything from baby blankets to toasters, lamps, space heaters, trashcans, pots, pans, and plates. Many of them are moving into permanent housing for the first time in their lives and would be unable, without the help of the Distribution Center, to acquire the items needed to furnish their new homes. Distribution services are also offered to the larger community of people affected by homelessness as they too transition into permanent housing.
To date, over 800 women and children have found safety and support in our reentry homes. A minimum of 160 women and their children have been reunited. Over 2,000 formerly homeless individuals and families have been able to furnish their new homes through our distribution center.