Program Impact

Since its inception 22 years ago, Spirit Awakening Foundation (SAF) has been a pioneer in restorative justice and juvenile delinquency prevention. With programs hailed as “creative, innovative and powerful” by the California State Department of Justice, SAF has served high school teens, “at-risk,” “high-risk” and incarcerated youth in Los Angeles County. SAF has been collaborating with the Los Angeles County Probation Department and the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) for the past 20 years and has served over 2,000 juveniles and young adults.

SAF provides preventative programs for at-risk high school students, life skills and re-entry programs for young people upon release from incarceration, as well as programs for offenders during their time of confinement in the juvenile system. We offer After-Care Mentoring Programs and have an extensive number of organizations and schools that are on waiting lists to be served by our organization.

During the years 2001-2004 SAF successfully implemented gender-specific programs in middle schools across LA County. Evaluations conducted by the Probation Department found SAF program participants’ grade point averages jumped from 1.5 to 3.0, and 4.0 in some cases. We have guided young people into becoming strong, purposeful citizens. We have steered them away from criminal activities into attending institutions of higher education, including USC, Berkeley, UCLA, San Diego and San Francisco State and other colleges and universities.

Spirit Awakening Foundation has supported young people as they become doctors, teachers, business entrepreneurs and artists. Our program has been awarded many commendations and accolades and we are enthusiastic to continue to provide our services to more young people. We have plans to open residential homes for re-entry, foster and runaway youth and to continue our service learning abroad programs, taking youth to Ghana, W. Africa to serve orphaned children.

A Brief Timeline of SAF History

1995 - 2000

  • SAF conceived of and created by Akuyoe Graham
  • Ms. Graham implements program at Camp Afflerbaugh and Camp Paige
  • “Unmasking Your Authentic Voice” writing program expands to John Muir High School sponsored by All Saints Episcopal Church and 20th Century Fox
  • SAF awarded Violence Prevention Contract by California State Department of Justice
  • SAF begins working in LA County’s only girls’ probation facilities
  • Given Local Hero Award from Agape International Spiritual Center and A Season For Nonviolence
  • Given Angel Of the Year Award from The Children’s Life Saving Foundation

2000 – 2004

  • Awarded Gender Specific Contract by Los Angeles County Probation Department to serve middle school girls in Covina, West Covina, Palmdale and Lancaster
  • Contracted to work with Police Activities League in Pasadena, Planned Parenthood and Prototypes
  • NBC Television profiles SAF’s work with survivors of domestic violence

2004 – 2014 Triumphs

  • SAF expanded programmatic offerings and vision to serve more disenfranchised youth and young adults
  • SAF writing programs expand incorporating life skills and mentoring
  • Begins work with Phoenix House Rehabilitation Centers through LACOE

Spirit Awakening Foundation and Otis College of Art and Design Students working on a joint project

  • SAF begins partnership with Otis College of Art and Design
  • Awarded grants from The California Wellness Foundation and initiates Service trips to Ghana, W. Africa (inaugural trip is televised by The Africa Channel)
  • SAF profiled by local news channel KCAL 9
  • Begins Anti-Bullying Project at Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall: Spirit Awakening Foundation is lead Community Based Organization in this campaign to curb violence amongst students; Akuyoe Graham co-created the curriculum used in the classrooms and is lead teacher; produced student PSA’s; SAF Art Director Masauso Chiumya designed anti-bullying kit; project led to 43% decrease in fighting amongst youth and 75% decrease in suspensions and referrals within one year
  • SAF Art Director Masauso Chiumya given Creative Art Award of Appreciation from Probation Department
  • Akuyoe Graham accepts Freedom Award from The Four Dames on behalf of SAF

2015 Triumphs

  • Founder Akuyoe Graham given ARWEY AWARD for Woman of the Year for her work with SAF
  • SAF given Southern California Society For Adolescent Health and Medicine Regional Chapter
  • Recognition Award for “effective, creative and transformational work to promote the holistic healing and wellbeing of youth and young adults”
  • Spirit Awakening graduates, Yahniie Bridges and Angel Arciniega, chosen to host Digital Voice Awards for LACOE
  • Spirit Awakening participated in John Legend’s International Crowdrise through RYOT
  • Spirit Awakening acknowledged at “Somebody Stood Up for Me” hosted by California Endowment
  • Spirit Awakening performs spoken word event at Esalen Institute in Big Sur, CA
  • USC School of Social Work partners with SAF and hosts the Foundation’s annual “Voices of the Unheard” event at USC’s Bovard Auditorium

2016 Triumphs

  • Visual Arts Program expanded and implemented at Camps Scott and Scudder and Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall
  • Created new PSA’s for the Anti-Bullying Campaign at Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall
  • Expanded Mentoring Program at the Agape International Spiritual Center serving over 100 teens and young adults, offering Life Skills training, Financial Aid and After-Care Services
  • Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich sponsors Spirit Awakening program
  • SAF program returns to John Muir High School headed by SAF graduate and licensed teacher Johanna Moore
  • Akuyoe Graham receives City of Los Angeles Resolution from the Mayor’s Office
  • Akuyoe Graham co-directed RTSA Celebration of Learning for LACOE
  • Agape International Spiritual Center hosts SAF’s annual “Voices of the unheard”