Posted on November 1, 2018 | Amanda O'Meara, Weissberg Foundation
As we quickly approach the mid-term elections, I am finding a lot of hope and inspiration in the large number of women, particularly women of color, that are running for office in key races throughout the country and that are leading powerful social justice movements locally, nationally, and globally. The Weissberg Foundation has long believed that the benefits of investing in women go far beyond the individual and ultimately have profound impacts on the families and communities of those women.
This core belief played a big part in the development of our Equitable Justice Fund and today we are so excited to announce our 2018-2020 Equitable Justice grantee cohort. While each grantee partner takes a unique approach to its work, all are changing policies, practices, and attitudes by centering their work on system-impacted women, girls, trans and/or gender non-conforming individuals of color and intentionally employing advocacy, organizing, and/or civic engagement strategies to accelerate the changes that are so desperately needed in our criminal justice system.
2018-2020 Equitable Justice Fund Grantee Partners
- African American Policy Forum (NY) is dedicated to advancing and expanding racial justice, gender equality, and the indivisibility of all human rights, both in the U.S. and internationally through research, policy change, and advocacy.
- Black Women’s Blueprint (NY) is a national organization that is also locally focused whose mission is to empower all black women and girls across all identities with focus on truth, healing, justice, and reconciliation.
- College and Community Fellowship (NY) embraces the idea that education is transformative. They work specifically with system impacted women because of their founding belief that when women are provided opportunities, it not only changes their lives, but the lives of their families, and the lives of their communities where they work and serve.
- Maryland Justice Project (MD) is a nonpartisan organization led primarily by system impacted women of color that work on legislative initiatives to help women, girls, transwomen, and GNC gain access and tear down barriers.
- Rights4Girls (DC) works to lift up young women and girls, especially at the margins. They take an intersectional approach to all of their policy and advocacy work and have been working very intentionally to fill the gap where girls and gender non-conforming individuals of color’s voices have been invisible.
- Sylivia Rivera Law Project (NY) works toward the big goal of gender, racial, and economic justice. They serve their trans and gender non-conforming individuals with their multi-prong approach of legal services, organizing, leadership development, and movement building to bring their knowledge to broader coalitions to provide long-term systemic change.
- Young Women United (NM) works to ensure that all people have access to make real decisions about their own bodies and their own lives across criminal justice reform, access to reproductive health care, full range of birthing options, and they help to change and share narratives.
Key characteristics we sought in Equitable Justice grantee partners included the following:
- Deep knowledge of their target population—which must include women, girls, trans, and/or gender non-conforming individuals of color—and of the issues they are working to address, including an intersectional analysis of them.
- Key roles for and engagement of women, girls, trans, and/or gender non-conforming individuals of color in criminal justice reform.
- Strategic use of advocacy, organizing and/or civic engagement to advance systems-level reform toward equitable criminal justice.
- Building the power of system-impacted women, girls, trans, and/or gender non-conforming individuals of color to improve their lives and the lives of others; advance equitable criminal justice policies and practices; and change the narrative on who they are and can be.
- Meaningful success in achieving goals, including making transformational progress in advancing equitable criminal justice reform.
Equitable Justice Mini-Grants
Through our RFP process, we were introduced to many organizations doing powerful work incredibly well aligned with our Equitable Justice goals, but not squarely within our target populations. Though we are unable to award all of them with a full grant, we wanted to lift up three in particular with one-year “mini-grants.” We look forward to continuing to engage with and amplify the work of these organizations in a focused way.
- Queer Detainee Empowerment Project (NY) supports LGBTQ and HIV+ individuals in dentition centers by providing visitation programs, support for hearings, and post-release support.
- Project Hajra‘s (NY) primary focus is creative community organizing by migrant women of color to end state violence (including criminal justice system) and interpersonal/domestic violence in their communities through healing and transformative justice.
- Rockaway Youth Task Force (NY) is a youth-led organization that trains young people to speak on issues that affect them and give them a voice to be the change.
We are grateful to all of these powerful organizations for their partnership, the many organizations who took the time to submit grant applications, our nonprofit and philanthropic colleagues who offered guidance to shape this initiative, and our phenomenal community reviewers, Dr. Bahiyyah Muhammed, Professor of Criminology at Howard University; Pamela Winn, Founder of RestoreHER and co-founder of Formerly Incarcerated College Graduates Network; and Rebecca Keel, Policy Director at RISE for Youth, who helped lead us to more informed decisions.
Keep checking our blog and follow us on Twitter @WeissbergFdn for updates! In the coming months we will be sharing our learnings from the Equitable Justice Fund and highlighting the work of each of these incredible organizations.
Amanda O’Meara is the Program Officer at the Weissberg Foundation, and she has been with the Foundation since 2009. She is the lead on our Equitable Justice funding area as well as the coordinator for many program and grantmaking facets of the foundation. Before joining the Foundation, Amanda spent some time living in Nairobi, Kenya while interning with the UN World Food Program.