Barbara Jean Brown
Hope Is Where the Heart Is
At the BJB Foundation, our organization supports Black men, women and children impacted by incarceration, poverty or discrimination through education, advocacy, employment, housing, and additional assistance. We believe in taking action with urgency in order to raise public awareness about some of the most pressing issues facing our most vulnerable population today.
Please join us by supporting our programs to make a measurable difference in the lives of a community that needs us the most.
Who We Are
Here at Barbara Jean Brown Foundation, we know that sometimes all it takes to change the world is a little support. Since our founding in 2019, we have been determined to make an impact. The core of our efforts is to bring our team’s fresh ideas and passion to the range of activities we’re involved in. Through all of our endeavors we hope to display the conviction behind our beliefs - in order to save the world, we must save our those most vulnerable.
Barbara Brown was a Black woman who moved from Wisconsin to Tacoma, Washington, where she found herself a single mother raising eight children. In 1957, she married Leo Brown, a single father with six children. They became a of family of fourteen and committed themselves to a life of service in Tacoma and its surrounding communities.
Barbara understood the strength required to endure and fight against oppression. She knew the resilience and resourcefulness needed to overcome poverty. She had the perseverance to push past those who said a black woman could never organize or own anything of real value. And in her final years, as she battled her fifth bout with breast cancer, she was brave enough to be present in the world when her body was giving way. Her determination came at a cost, but she worked to create equitable spaces for marginalized people to have a voice and exercise self-determination.
Barbara’s legacy continues in the Barbara Jean Brown Foundation, which is now run by her children and grandchildren. We are well acquainted with the racial stresses and cultural dynamics that affect marginalized people in Washington, and we are well equipped to serve this community. We are an African-American-run organization fully– 100% of our board are people of color.
With a passion for young people and an intimate familiarity with the difficulties faced by low-income families of color, Barbara started Operation Longthrust in 1966. Operation Longthrust allows low-income families to send their children to a safe and affordable summer camp. With the establishment of the Barbara Jean Brown Foundation, Operation Longthrust is now the longest running program under this great Foundation. Today, the Operation Longthrust Camp, under the BJB Foundation, takes 115 young people to Camp Moran on Orcas Island each summer for a week-long camp experience.
In 1979, after volunteering in prisons for many years, Barbara and Leo worked with the city of Tacoma to open Progress House Association Work Release, a nonprofit organization that contracts with the Department of Corrections to support individuals striving to re-enter the community from prison or jail. Through our 49+ year partnership with the State of Washington Department of Corrections (DOC) and our 32+ year partnership with the Federal Bureau of Prisons, we have assisted more than 16,000 formerly incarcerated individuals in Pierce and King Counties to successfully gain employment.
True Vine Senior Citizens Apartments (aka the Barbara Jean Brown Manor) is another mission of the Barbara Jean Brown Foundation. Barbara and Leo purchased the 23-unit apartment complex in 1981. Originally intended to provide low-income housing for both senior citizens and people with disabilities, True Vine now focuses exclusively on elders (62+).
The newest addition to the BJB Foundation is the Change Program. The CHANGE program offers a well-lit pathway for incarcerated black men and women who are making the return journey from prison or jail to a sustainable life in the community. We provide a personalized plan, a navigator, and connections to a wide-range of supportive programs and resources.
The mission of our CHANGE program is to help black men and women that are willing to help themselves CHANGE and sustain a better life. The key to our program's success is to guide our clients in the establishment of an individualized plan that fully engages the client's own goals, skills, fears, abilities, and desires, and to provide a connection to support services for life through the Alumni phase of the program. We pair our client with Navigators’ that look like them and understand the systematic difficulties black people face when reentering society.
We are so happy you’re interested in getting involved with our work here at Barbara Jean Brown Foundation. There are so many ways for you to help, and we truly appreciate each and every effort. By lending your support, you’ll become a valuable part of our Non-Profit Organization and help to strengthen our operations.