Year One at The Just Trust
It has been an incredible year and I am full of gratitude. I’m especially grateful for the leaders, organizers, and advocates fighting for a more humane and just criminal justice system; the funders who fund their fight; and the people in power who are listening and stepping up to the challenge. I know we’re all feeling exhausted. Exhausted by perpetual anxiety and uncertainty about the world, the pandemic, and the safety of our families and communities. Exhausted by stories of gun violence, overdose deaths, and natural disasters. I’m feeling all of this, too. But I’m also feeling deep and profound gratitude, hope, and opportunity, which is the theme of The Just Trust’s first-ever end-of-year message.
Thank you to the leaders and organizations—big and small—working to transform our criminal justice system. From organizers working in communities to build people power and demand change, to the legislative advocates advancing insider strategies to move decision makers, to the storytellers reshaping what justice and safety mean in this country. You give me hope.
Thank you to all those out there leveraging your lived experience with the justice system for change—from returning citizens, to people with criminal convictions, to crime survivors, to prosecutors fighting for reform. Your strength, vision, and vulnerability are powerful. You give me hope.
Thank you to our philanthropic partners—from the institutions who built the foundation of the criminal justice reform movement, to newer funders just entering the space. I am excited to keep working with you all to align and grow resources to fuel this work long into the future. You give me hope.
Thank you to everyone who has helped us build The Just Trust—our incredible colleagues, board, and field advisors. Our mentors, and especially our opponents—for pushing us to create an organization with a bold, unapologetic commitment to the criminal justice reform movement.
And a very special thank you to Priscilla Chan, Mark Zuckerberg, and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative for their historic seed investment in The Just Trust and our approach to funding advocacy.
All of this gives me hope that things are changing, that they can change.
As we close out 2021, I just want to say that The Just Trust sees you and thanks you—everyone listed above and more—the full and essential ecosystem of people fighting for safer, stronger communities. We’re here to power your fight.
This time next year, you’ll see us investing in the work of advocates that know how to navigate the complexities and nuances of reform. You’ll find us backing their uphill battles—making, sustaining, and redefining wins; shouldering losses; leveraging resources; and keeping it up regardless of what comes our way. And you’ll see The Just Trust working alongside other funding partners small and large, to grow the pie of resources available to this field. True transformation is hard and will take time, and The Just Trust intends to be on the journey until the end.
Rest up this holiday season, we have work to do.
With hope and gratitude,
Founder & Executive Director
The Just Trust
This year, we:
- Received our first seed funding commitment from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative in January 2021
- Announced our new name in June
- Set up two distinct funding vehicles—a fiscally sponsored 501(c)(3) and independent 501(c)(4), The Just Trust for Action
- Brought on a brilliant leadership team, two boards of directors, and numerous field advisors to help shape and build a nimble, bold, and responsive strategy
- Launched our website and brand vision in September
- Opened up a general grant inquiry form on our website so we could immediately start listening to the field and discovering important work
- Now, we’re preparing to make our very first grants to support integrated advocacy efforts at the state and national level in the first part of 2022. We’ll also be announcing more details around our state-based strategy and new regional funding opportunities around the same time. From this point, grants will be made on a rolling basis.