The Art for Justice Fund Announces $22 Million in Grants to Address Mass Incarceration

30 Criminal Justice Reform and Arts Initiatives Chosen for First Round of Grants in $100M+ Fund

The Art for Justice Fund, launched earlier this year with a $100 million donation from philanthropist Agnes Gund, today announced the first round of grant recipients in the areas of criminal justice reform and the arts. With awards ranging from $100,000 to $7.5 million, a total of $22 million was awarded to 30 innovative programs that seek to safely reduce prison populations, strengthen education and employment opportunities for formerly incarcerated people, and humanize people affected by the criminal justice system. The full list of grants is below.Art for Justice Fund Logo

The Art for Justice Fund is a five-year initiative created to support innovative advocacy and program interventions aimed at safely reducing prison populations in key states, strengthening education and employment opportunities post-prison, and supporting artistic initiatives that bear witness to and humanize the experiences of those impacted by the system. (For more information, see www.artforjusticefund.org.)

The Art for Justice Fund, created by Ms. Gund in partnership with the Ford Foundation and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, is a five-year initiative that uniquely connects the ingenuity of criminal justice advocates and the creativity of artists to address the crisis of mass incarceration in America.

My hope is that the work supported by the Art for Justice Fund will help create a groundswell that drives reforms well beyond these specific programs,” said Ms, Gund. “The problem of mass incarceration touches every community across the country, and we need to work together to find creative solutions to build a better, safer future for all our children.

The Ford Foundation is providing expertise on program design and covering the operating costs of the Art for Justice Fund so that 100 percent of donated dollars go directly to programming and grants. The Ford Foundation is an independent, nonprofit grant-making organization. For more than 80 years it has worked with courageous people on the frontlines of social change worldwide, guided by its mission to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. With headquarters in New York, the foundation has offices in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.

Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors is providing programmatic support and fiscal sponsorship for the Art for Justice Fund. Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors is a nonprofit with a successful record of managing and advising on complex, multi-million dollar philanthropic projects. With offices in New York, Chicago, London, Los Angeles and San Francisco, RPA partners with individuals, families, and institutions to help make philanthropy more thoughtful and effective.

Key Objectives of the Art for Justice Fund

The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world, with more than 2.2 million people in prisons and detention centers. Low-income people of color are most likely to be arrested and sentenced to prison, and women are the fastest rising sector of the prison population. Mass incarceration deepens poverty by removing wage-earning mothers and fathers from distressed neighborhoods and leads to devastating outcomes for the children left behind.

To reverse this harmful trend, the Art for Justice Fund seeks to achieve five key objectives:

  • Reform prosecutorial and bail practices that result in unnecessary jail detention, particularly for low-income people;
  • Reform or repeal excessive prison sentences, and reinvest prison savings into crime prevention and community-based rehabilitation;
  • Improve pathways to education and employment for people coming home from prison;
  • Enable artists and writers to bear witness to the injustices of mass incarceration, and humanize those caught in the system; and,
  • Use the arts to divert young people from prison, and to help people who are incarcerated build creative skills and share their experiences.

Continue reading