Silicon Valley De-Bug
Purpose of Grant
For general support.
Silicon Valley De-Bug (De-Bug) is led and run by communities of color to build the leadership of youth, people of color, low-income families, immigrants, and incarcerated individuals and their loved ones through media production, community organizing, and policy work. It advocates for justice for all families and its overarching mission is to ensure families are front and center in initiating and becoming agents for change in their communities.
De-Bug was formed in 2001 by the temporary workers who cleaned offices or assembled equipment in factories for multi-million dollar successful tech start-ups. These workers produced video, photo, and audio stories that reflected their lives and communities and that dispelled the illusion that Silicon Valley’s wealth was distributed to everyone. Since then De-Bug has evolved from an organization solely devoted to media production to a nationally recognized leader in community organizing, advocacy and policy change, particularly for criminal justice reform. De-Bug has led campaigns that have made tangible differences in the lives of families, including changing policing practices, challenging the overrepresentation of people of color in wrongful arrests, creating policies that separate local law enforcement from federal immigration enforcement, and winning wage increases for minimum-wage workers.
De-Bug’s central community organizing project, the Albert Cobarrubias Justice Project (ACJP), follows a family-led organizing model, called participatory defense, designed to infuse a community organizing ethic into the criminal justice system. Led by families and communities impacted by the criminal justice system, participatory defense aims to reduce incarceration and promote accountability in justice systems. Activities include weekly support and strategy meetings led by families with loved ones in the criminal justice system; trainings and ongoing assistance to public defender offices and community organizations; and coordinating a national network of families most affected by the court system. Current participatory defense sites are in San Jose, Calif.; Lexington, Ky.; Birmingham, Ala. and Montgomery County, Pa.