March 1, 2022

The Just Trust and The Just Trust for Action Announce First Grants; Launch Open Funding Call in Select States

The Just Trust and The Just Trust for Action commit $36.3 million to criminal justice reform advocacy efforts across the country, and announce major funding opportunity for groups working in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Oklahoma

RALEIGH (March 1, 2022)—Today, The Just Trust and The Just Trust for Action, new grantmaking initiatives dedicated to reforming the criminal justice system, made their first funding announcement since opening their doors in September 2021. The groups have committed $36.3 million to organizations that are leading integrated advocacy efforts in the criminal justice field. Additionally, The Just Trust and The Just Trust for Action announced a major open funding opportunity, in an effort to discover and fund state and local criminal justice reform work, beginning in four new states: Alabama,Louisiana, Mississippi, and Oklahoma. (The Just Trust previously committed to criminal justice reform work in Kentucky, West Virginia, and North Carolina.)

Inaugural Grants
As part of today’s announcement, The Just Trust and The Just Trust for Action made funding commitments to 25 organizations doing criminal justice reform work that falls into one or more of six funding priorities: advocacy infrastructure; campaign moments; media & narrative projects; justice alternatives; partnership & coordination; and rapid response. Funding toplines include:

  • $36.3 million in total commitment to 25 organizations
  • 50/50 mix of 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) grants
  • 75% of grants are multi-year commitments
  • Additional giving for 2022 and beyond will be announced on a rolling basis, and funding inquiries can be made 24/7 through The Just Trust’s rolling grants inquiries form.

The organizations’ first grantees—many of which span multiple issue areas and include a mix of state-level and national organizations—include:

State Advocacy Organizations

  • Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Foundation
  • Kentucky Center for Economic Policy
  • ACLU of Kentucky Foundation
  • West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy
  • American Friends Service Committee West Virginia
  • ACLU of West Virginia
  • REACH
  • Mountain State Harm Reduction
  • Oregon Health Justice Recovery Alliance
  • Clean Slate Utah

National Advocacy Organizations

  • Formerly Incarcerated, Convicted People and Families Movement
  • The National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls
  • Prison Fellowship
  • REFORM Alliance
  • ACUF Nolan Center for Justice
  • Right On Crime
  • Alliance for Safety and Justice
  • ACLU Campaign for Smart Justice

Media Organizations & Narrative Projects

  • Prison Journalism Project
  • Capital B
  • Represent Justice
  • Bolts
  • The 19th
  • “Ear Hustle” from Radiotopia and PRX
  • “Untold Story: Criminal Injustice” from Lemonada Media

State Funding Opportunity
In addition to announcing its first grants, The Just Trust and The Just Trust for Action also announced a new funding opportunity, State by State: A Campaign to Power Reform Everywhere, to help strengthen the criminal justice advocacy infrastructure across the country. The opportunity is open to groups across the political spectrum initially in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Oklahoma, and invites groups working on policy reform, organizing, base building, and narrative change work—tailored to the unique political and cultural environment of each state—to apply. Groups can submit basic letters of intent through March 30 via a form on The Just Trust’s website, after which select groups will be invited to a formal application process. The Just Trust especially seeks applicants from organizations with directly impacted leaders and staff.

“One of the most challenging parts of criminal justice reform work is that justice is defined and applied differently everywhere,” said Jolene Forman, chief program officer at The Just Trust. “That means it’s going to take the ongoing efforts of groups working in every corner of this country, year in and year out, to dismantle harmful and unevenly applied policies, protect past wins, and create the public and political will for reforms that truly center community health and safety.”

“This opportunity is about discovering who those groups are, what they’re up against, and how we can help power their essential efforts in the short and long term,” added Forman.

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.

“Reform is needed and possible in all fifty states, and we’re energized to begin investments in these four, in addition to our continued support for organizations in Kentucky, North Carolina, and West Virginia,” said Zamora. “We’re also deeply committed to partnering with the broader philanthropic community in this work, some of whom are already making critical investments in these states. When you look at the billions of dollars spent annually by governments and private interests to maintain the status quo, we truly need all hands on deck. Consider us a partner to any funder or donor who wants to work together to make integrated, sustainable, powerful state-level advocacy possible.”

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The Just Trust, a grantmaking initiative, and The Just Trust for Action are 100% dedicated to powering criminal justice reform, state-by-state and across the nation. We’re a team of funders, directly impacted people, and allies, and we invest in visionary leaders, organizations, and campaigns—from underdogs to heavyweights, organizers to policy wonks, rural folks to city dwellers—all fighting for the safety and well-being of their communities. Visit TheJustTrust.org for more information.