On Feb. 26, Viola, a nationwide leader in the production and sale of premium quality cannabis products, founded by NBA veteran Al Harrington, announced the official launch of its social equity initiative, Viola Cares. Through education, equitable offerings, expungement, and incubation programs, the initiative will result in more than 10,000 jobs, hundreds of new business owners and expanded industry diversity by increasing representation, facilitating community building and providing employment opportunities.
Viola’s first strategic alliance within its Viola Cares program kicks-off with Root & Rebound. Root & Rebound is home to lawyers and advocates committed to restoring power and resources to the communities most harmed by mass incarceration and the War on Drugs. Their work combines direct legal services with systems-changing policy advocacy and public education, in an effort to move society toward greater racial and economic equity, justice, collective liberation and intergenerational healing. Their educational resources like the California Roadmap to Reentry, the Reentry Planning Toolkit, the National Fair Chance Housing Toolkit, and others have supported thousands of people as they work to navigate the collateral consequences of an arrest or conviction history.
Viola, in conjunction with Root & Rebound, will produce a first-of-its-kind toolkit designed specifically for people with cannabis-related convictions, to be entitled: “A New Leaf: A ‘How-To Guide’ for Successful Reentry After A Cannabis Conviction.”
“At Viola, we live and breathe the belief that a cannabis conviction should never be considered a life sentence,” said Al Harrington, founder, Viola. “In joining forces with Root & Rebound, we will look to help those communities of color who have historically been the victims of cannabis-related incarceration and who have fallen on hard times, and turn those struggles into opportunities for success within this rapidly growing industry.”
Opportunity within the cannabis industry only continues to grow as legalization progresses and passes into law across the country, and Viola is breaking the barrier of entry for minorities to contribute to that growth through cultivation and entrepreneurship.
“We’re honored to be working side-by-side with Viola on such an important initiative–one that positively impacts thousands who have been unfairly stigmatized by their prior cannabis-related incarceration,” Katherine Katcher, founder and executive director of Root & Rebound. “Together we’re changing that conversation, leveling the playing field for minorities and creating opportunities for those deserving of a second chance.”
Viola hosted the official launch of Viola Cares on the evening of Feb. 26 at its Hollywood HQ.
The evening commenced with Viola CMO Ericka Pittman, who welcomed guests with opening remarks.
Viola co-founder Al Harrington then introduced the partnership sharing how Viola plans to use their platform to amplify the work and impact of Root & Rebound.
Root & Rebound team Eliana Green and Sandra Johnson led by founder and Director Katherine Katcher joined Harrington to kick off the moderated panel. The fireside chat, “The Effect of Social Impact and the Path Forward,” dove into the current issues our country currently faces with mass incarceration. Sandra candidly shared her first-hand experiences being collateral damage from the war on drugs and disclosed her re-entry journey through Root & Rebound. Sandra tearfully explained how the system had held her hostage to her past as she struggled to find and hold jobs despite doing everything right.
Al Harrington opened up about the brand legacy that has shaped the New Leaf initiative and the ways in which it will alter the trajectory of social equity moving forward. Both Viola and Root & Rebound shared with the room the victorious outcome they envision through the alliance: the ability to employ every person that returns from incarceration as they reintegrate back into society.
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