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CJI is an innovative grantmaking collaborative made up of community organizers, activists, donors, and donor-activists. Together we identify, fund, and nurture grassroots organizations led by those most impacted working to transform the criminal legal system in the United States.


Our work falls into four categories:


  • grantmaking

  • political education

  • advocating for the work of our grantees and lifting up their work in funding spaces

  • influencing the field of philanthropy toward holistic solutions that support deep systemic change




The Circle for Justice Innovations began in 2000 as the Criminal Justice Initiative (CJI), a program of The Funding Exchange, a progressive foundation based in New York. Born from concern of prison expansion, mass incarceration and its disproportionate impact on marginalized communities, as well as understanding the limited funding for progressive criminal legal organizing, the CJI Circle was established to create a new source of support for a meaningful, transformative and systemic change of the criminal legal system. CJI was founded as a community of activists and donors working together based on the recognition that to change systems that affect all of us, we must all work together. CJI was housed at the Solidago Foundation from 2009 to 2018. Following the 2016 grant cycle, CJI will have given away over $2 million in grants to over 50 grassroots organizations working to transform the criminal legal system. 

Read more about our history

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