STRATEGIC OPPORTUNITIES SUPPORT (SOS)
Rapid Response Fund
2020 will likely be remembered in US history for two defining events: The spread of the Covid-19 virus, and, no less consequential to life and death in our communities, the national presidential and “down ballot” elections. In this perilous time, our movement to transform the criminal justice system must be on high alert to the dangers and opportunities posed by these monumental concerns.
CJI’s SOS Rapid Response Fund has always provided flexible and immediate funding to organizations responding to changing political landscapes and working to build collective power at critical junctures. SOS Grant ranges are between $2,500 to $5,000 (max) In the coming months, SOS will continue to respond to crisis and opportunities across the spectrum of our work, giving priority to the following categories:
Organizing that responds to opportunities or dangers affecting the health, safety, or human rights of incarcerated and directly impacted people based on Covid-19 policies or practices.
Examples may include, but are not limited to:
Campaigns to secure the release of incarcerated people to protect health and safety during Covid-19. This may include calls to reduce risk by reducing the overall prison population, such as campaigns to release people detained for technical parole violations, and/or people serving sentences of one year or less. It may also include campaigns to secure the release of people who are vulnerable to the virus such as people over 50 and people with underlying health conditions.
Mobilizing to make prison and jail communication free of charge in response to Covid-related bans to in-person visits. Such campaigns may support policy change and educate the public about the price of calling prisons in a time when telephone communication is the only way families can speak with incarcerated loved ones.
Campaigns that demand emergency wages for incarcerated people who are making hand sanitizer, masks, and other Covid-related materials.
Organizing to support the rights of formerly incarcerated and directly impacted people to effectively participate in the electoral process.
Examples may include, but are not limited to:
Mobilizing community action to re-enfranchise incarcerated or formerly incarcerated people by introducing or supporting legislation that restores their voting rights and/or reduces obstacles to the restoration of their voting rights, such as unpaid court fines and fees.
Organizing to include the rights of incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people in voting rights campaigns that have gained momentum due to COVID 19. This may include campaigns to increase access to voter registration, expand early voting, and expand voting by mail, all of which disproportionately affect incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people who are often left out of campaign strategies and materials.
Community education campaigns that explain the rights of incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people and combat widespread misinformation about their eligibility to vote.
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
The application deadline for the Free Her Fund has passed. Decisions will be announced in April 2020
QUEST FOR DEMOCRACY
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:
prison profit over community development
immigration detention and deportation
sexual harassment in prisons
The application deadline for the Q4D fund has passed. Decisions will be announced in February 2020
STARVING the BEAST FUND
SUPPORTING DECRIMINALZATION, & SAFETY
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.
CJI LEADERSHIP CIRCLE FUND
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.