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Circle for Justice Innovations

(formerly Criminal Justice Initiative @ the Solidago Foundation)

147 Prince Street, Suite 4-20

Brooklyn, NY 11201

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cji is fiscally sponsored by

NEO Philanthropy: EIN 13-3191113

© 2019 by  Circle for Justice Innovations. Inspired by love and the belief that change is necessary and possible. Join us!


Rapid Response Fund

Now Accepting Applications

From the Muslim ban to rescinding DACA and increased criminalization of immigration, to the state backing of white supremacists and killer cops, to the criminalizing of protesters, the current political landscape is a rapidly changing fight for our lives and the earth. Organizations working on the ground are challenged to respond powerfully and strategically with limited time and resources to a never-ending string of affronts. These moments all provide many opportunities to grow the resistance movement for justice and safety in this country through increased outreach, education, and activity.

Because of our position within the movement, organizations often reach out to us for support for urgent actions and strategic movement convenings. In the past, we have not been able to provide support outside of our regular grantmaking cycle.


The SOS Rapid Response Fund provides flexible and immediate funding to organizations building strength at critical junctures. Standard grant amounts are up to $2,500.

Examples of what the SOS Fund supports:

  • Organizations sending organizers to convenings or strategic locations where resistance is happening in response to killings by police, conditions in prisons and detention centers, mass deportations, etc.

  • Mass mobilizations of organizations working to end state-sanctioned violence

  • Individual and collective healing after moments of collective trauma related to state-sanctioned violence

  • Key gatherings to build movement strategy among coalitions and across broad sectors of the resistance movement


supporting organizations led by women & girls

impacted by the criminal justice system.

The FreeHer Fund is a new grant-making partnership between  CJI and The National Council of Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls. The FreeHer Fund will support grassroots organizing that is based in awareness of the current political environment’s hostility toward the rights of women and girls; is led by women and girls directly impacted by the criminal legal system, and is working to restore or expand the rights of currently and/or formerly incarcerated women and girls.


CJI Circle giving is explicitly inspired and designed to reflect a principle of philanthropy that values the role of those most affected by injustice as participants in generating the solutions to the issues they face. The FreeHer Circle is comprised of donors, donor-activists and criminal justice activists who identify as women, who are committed to ensuring a meaningful and transformative change in the U.S. criminal justice system. Most members are directly impacted (ie, unjust/ wrongful conviction, family member imprisoned).

The FreeHer Circle Fund aims to grant at least $500,000 to grassroots organizations located nationwide that are led by women and girls whose work focuses one or more of the following four areas:


  • Restoration of Rights

  • Sentencing and Conditions of Confinement

  • Economic Justice and

  • Reproductive Justice.

The application deadline for the Free Her Fund has passed. Decisions will be announced in April 2020


Circle for Justice Innovations is proud to announce the continued partnership with Formerly Incarcerated and Convicted People's and Family Movement (FICPFM) with the Quest for Democracy Fund.  This 2nd cycle is open by invitation only.


CJI has partnered with the FICPFM in the Quest for Democracy (Q4D) Grants Program to support non-profit organizations led by formerly incarcerated people working on Restoration of Rights for incarcerated, formerly incarcerated and detained people; Felon Re-enfranchisement/Voting Rights Restoration, and Civic Engagement; Law Enforcement Accountability (police, prosecutors, and judges) and Bail Reform.


FICPFM is a national alliance composed of member organizations led by and devoted to advancing the rights and freedoms of formerly incarcerated, formerly detained, and directly impacted people and families. Together, they confront a system of control that has, itself, grown out of control. With campaigns focusing on housing, fighting employment discrimination, and restoring voting rights, FICPFM is firmly committed to prioritizing De-Entry over Re-Entry and opposes the concept of a Rehabilitative Industrial Complex that grows along with prisons. All efforts to educate, assist and empower our communities should be within the context of eliminating human cages as a mainstream livelihood. Seeking the full restoration of formerly incarcerated and former detained people’s civil and human rights, FICPFM has developed a fifteen-point platform that calls for ending:


  • mass incarceration

  • prison profit over community development

  • immigration detention and deportation

  • racial profiling

  • sexual harassment in prisons

  • extortion and forced labor in prisons

  • cruel and unusual punishment

  • the incarceration of children

  • religious discrimination in prisons

  • imprisonment for activism and political beliefs and organizing

The application deadline for the Q4D fund has passed. Decisions will be announced in February 2020



The application deadline for the STB Fund has passed. Decisions will be announced in January 2020

CJI is excited to continue its partnership with the Open Society Foundations to fund community-based initiatives that will reduce incarceration as a response to criminalized behaviors including drug use and sex work. This funding collaboration is intended to improve the capacity of community-based organizations to deliver resources, provide harm-reduction services, and address policy change that will improve health and well-being and reduce contact with the criminal legal system. We support harm reduction practices that are non-coercive and entirely outside of the criminal legal system, as opposed to those that occur as a result of arrest or other justice-system contacts. Our goal is to broaden education and encourage activism to challenge the still-powerful War on Drugs, its over-criminalization, and incarceration of communities of color and poor communities, and the criminalization of survival sex work.

10-15 one-time grants between $10,000 and $25,000 will be awarded through a competitive application process. Ongoing funding is not guaranteed.

CJI will manage the application process. Grant selection will occur through consensus by CJI’s Starving the Beast Circle of activists and survivors of the War on Drugs. Grant applications must be submitted online to apply for these competitive grant funds. Please read all instructions carefully.



The CJI Leadership Circle is an innovative grant-making panel comprised of donors, donor-activists and community organizers, some of whom have experienced incarceration. We share authority and a passion for supporting meaningful, transformative and systemic change of the criminal justice system. Understanding the limited funding for progressive criminal justice organizing, this Circle was launched as a means of creating a new source of support for this critical work. We seek to support work that will end the criminal justice system as we know it. 


Each year we raise the grant funds, convene for political education, and determine our grantmaking and RFP focus. The Circle reconvenes to evaluate proposals and make grant decisions. Given this process, there is currently no recurring annual deadline or guarantee of multi-year funding for CJI applicants. 


The application process is online and does not require an invitation to apply.

Other Non CJI Rapid Response Grant Opportunities

The following resources provide information about additional rapid response funds across the United States. Few have criteria, and most do not. A few are focused on immigrant rights while most are general. The rapid response funds listed are not related to the funds of the Circle for Justice Innovations and are meant to provide additional funding opportunities to you, irrespective of your application to the SOS Rapid Response Fund. 

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