The New York City-based Art for Justice Fund has announced grants totaling $22 million to thirty nonprofit organizations working in the areas of criminal justice reform and the arts.
The fund, created in June by philanthropist Agnes Gund in partnership with the Ford Foundation and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, is a five-year initiative designed to address the crisis of mass incarceration in America by connecting criminal justice advocates and artists. Ranging between $100,000 and $7.5 million, the grants will support innovative programs that seek to safely reduce prison populations, strengthen education and employment opportunities for formerly incarcerated people, and otherwise assist people who have been affected by the criminal justice system.
Recipients in this first round of grants include Color of Change, a national online racial justice organization that works to educate and mobilize Americans about the need for bail reform; the Alliance for Safety and Justice, a national organization working at the state level to reduce incarceration and advance a balanced approach to public safety focused on crime prevention, rehabilitation, and support for crime survivors; Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, a nonprofit legal organization that is working to expand its "Ban the Box" initiative across the country; and the National Book Foundation, which is preparing to launch a "Literature for Justice" program focused on mass incarceration.
To date, nearly thirty donors have joined Gund, who sold a prized painting from her personal art collection to launch the fund, in giving or committing substantial resources to the effort. The fund plans to announce its next round of awards in the spring of 2018.
"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 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 Art for Justice Fund invests in organizations and artists doing critical work to advance criminal justice reform," said AJF project director Helena Huang. "Over the next five years, we aim to reduce our country's harmful reliance on prisons and jails, and instead to increase community investments in health and public safety."