Open Call for Criminal Justice Reform Work in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Oklahoma
Note: Applications are now closed.
Welcome to The Just Trust and The Just Trust for Action. The Just Trust and The Just Trust for Action are grantmaking initiatives that are 100% dedicated to investing in leaders and organizations advancing criminal justice reform, state by state and across the country.
We know that the path toward transforming our complex and punitive legal system looks different in every community, which is why our ultimate goal is to power integrated advocacy efforts and localized strategies in all 50 states. To get started, we’re opening up funding to groups working on policy change, base building and organizing, narrative campaigns, and other related efforts beginning in:
These states were selected after a comprehensive, nationwide analysis of both need and opportunity around criminal justice reform. The Just Trust, along with external advisors and consultants, assessed considerations like incarceration rates and populations, racial disparities, criminal justice trends, historic philanthropic investment, recent reform or rollback efforts, existing advocacy infrastructure, public and political will for reform, and many other factors. Please note that we are also supporting criminal justice reform efforts in Kentucky, West Virginia, and North Carolina. Funding will continue in those regions, but at this time are not the focus of this opportunity.
We hope to add more states to this list as soon as possible. We know that reform is needed and possible everywhere with the right kind of support and public and political will.
How to apply
For initial funding consideration, we are asking people to submit a simple letter of intent by March 30, 2022. From there, The Just Trust and The Just Trust for Action will invite select groups to a formal application process by April 22, 2022.
We have not predetermined the grant sizes for this opportunity (for states or individual organizations). Through this open call, we hope to learn a lot more about the need on the ground, including funding gaps for the broader reform ecosystem and for individual efforts, as well as opportunities for alignment with other funders. We will respond to what we hear.
Organizations must be working on (or have plans to work on) criminal justice reform within these select states, and have the ability to receive 501(c)3 or 501(c)4 grants, or be on the pathway to establishing fiscal sponsorship or 501(c)3 or 501(c)4 status. Any leaders or individuals applying for project funding must be associated with an organization.
If this state-centered opportunity is not quite a fit for your organization, but you still want to get on our radar, please share your information with us. We make grants on a rolling basis across our six funding priorities, in addition to this special opportunity.
Who is eligible for this state-focused funding opportunity?
Organizations must be working on (or have plans to work on) criminal justice reform within these select states: Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Oklahoma. They must have either a 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(4) designated status, have applied for status, or be fiscally sponsored by a tax-exempt organization. Any leaders or individuals applying for funding must be associated with an organization and the organization must have at least one staff member based in one of the four listed states.
We defer to our grantees on the policies that will have the greatest impact and what is politically feasible, but grantees must be aligned with our funding goals and work on policy change related to decriminalization, decarceration, and second chances.
We are fiscally sponsored—do I include our project’s information or information for the entire fiscal sponsor?
For the letter of intent, we only want information on your project, the name of your fiscal sponsor, and confirmation that there is an agreement in place establishing the fiscal sponsorship.
What types of grants do The Just Trust and The Just Trust for Action provide?
We offer two types of grants depending on who your organization(s) serve and the work you are doing in the field. Read below to determine which category is right for your organization(s).
- General Operating Grants to support general operating activities at organizations 100% dedicated to criminal justice reform and with missions focused on one or more of our focus areas.
- Project-Specific Grants to support programs, projects, or initiatives within multi-issue organizations that focus on one or more of our focus areas. We recommend that fiscally sponsored projects of organizations that serve a broader range of issues also apply for this type of grant.
How much funding is available for each organization and each state?
We have not predetermined the grant sizes for this opportunity (for states or individual organizations). Through the State by State: A Campaign to Power Reform Everywhere letter of intent, we hope to learn more about the needs on the ground in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Oklahoma, including funding gaps for the broader reform ecosystem and for individual efforts, as well as opportunities for alignment with other funders. We will respond to what we learn.
Are your grants single-year or multi-year?
Grant terms will be decided based on the needs and capacities of each organization. However, whenever possible, The Just Trust and Just Trust for Action work to provide two-year grants with a likelihood of renewal after the two-year period if the program is going well.
Should I collaborate with other partner organizations in my state?
At The Just Trust and The Just Trust Action, we believe we are more powerful when we collaborate and align. This doesn’t mean we expect everyone to get along and agree all the time—trust us, we know movement work can be messy! We believe a powerful, winning criminal justice reform advocacy ecosystem is composed of different organizations doing different things (sometimes for different reasons) and working incrementally toward a broader vision of transformation.
In this vein, we encourage partner organizations and coalitions to collaborate on this LOI and let us know how and why you work together.
What is the timeline and process?
The Just Trust and The Just Trust Action seek to embody values of inclusivity, responsiveness, efficiency, and transparency throughout the grantmaking process. The timeline below provides a snapshot of this process.
- March 1, 2022: Letter of Intent (LOI) Launch Date
- March 30, 2022: LOI Deadline
- April 18, 2022: Notification whether or not LOI applicants are moving forward to in-depth review process
- April 18–May 24, 2022: LOI Review Period
- May 24, 2022: Invitation to applicants to submit full proposals
- June 14, 2022: Full Proposal Deadline
- June 14–June 28, 2022: Full Proposal Review Period
Note: Grantmaking team may follow up with additional questions or requests during this time period
- July 6, 2022: Grant award notifications and grant agreements disbursed
- Within 2 weeks of fully executed grant agreement:
Funds disbursed to grantee
What are The Just Trust and The Just Trust for Action’s mutual commitments and community norms?
Both organizations are dedicated to partnering and learning with and from you. Our program staff is committed to inclusivity, responsiveness, and transparency. In practice, this means we will:
- Respond to your emails and phone calls promptly.
- Be candid with you about limitations around resources and be transparent about internal decision-making processes.
- Support you and be a resource to you as you navigate challenges.
- Provide honest and timely feedback.
We encourage and expect you to be:
- Transparent about any challenges you may be facing and how we can best support you.
- Direct and candid with your feedback when we are missing the mark. [Note: Direct and candid feedback will not be held against applicants.]
What do I do if I have questions about my application?
Please reach out to [email protected] if you have any questions about the LOI process.
What is the difference between The Just Trust and The Just Trust for Action?
To learn more about The Just Trust’s financial structure and governance model, visit https://thejusttrust.org/about-us/#our-structure.