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Culture of Justice


Reimagining Community Justice Through Arts and Culture

Our Goals

Integrate promising practices into local community development and human service systems

Deepen leadership roles of residents involved in the justice system, particularly boys and men of color

Center social and economic mobility in those processes

Share authentic narratives of individuals and communities impacted by the U.S. justice system

Created to ignite new approaches to community justice, this national initiative centered around a grantee cohort of five community-based organizations that are using arts and culture to reimagine justice in their local cities. Culture of Justice was a joint effort of Kresge’s Arts & Culture Program, the Boys and Men of Color Working Group and the Human Services Program.

The initiative had four main goals:

  • Integrating promising practices into local community development and human service systems
  • Deepening the leadership roles of justice-involved residents, particularly boys and men of color
  • Centering social and economic mobility in those processes
  • Giving visibility to authentic narratives of justice-impacted individuals and communities

There is still little national emphasis on positioning those most impacted by the justice system – particularly boys and men of color – to lead in setting agendas or bringing forward solutions. We aimed to center and empower the most impacted residents and build the cultural competency of organizations working to do so.

Culture of Justice launched in 2019 with $1.2 million in funding, providing individual grants of $240,000 to each grantee partner. Grantees were also tasked with developing a community of practice through convenings and on-the-ground peer exchanges.

The Culture of Justice initiative concluded in 2022. With our learning partner, Third Space Action Lab, we learned the following from this initiative.

Through this initiative:

  • We created a learning community among local arts, culture and community justice programs.
  • It relied on the expertise, wisdom, and creativity that came from the lived experiences of those involved in and impacted by the justice system.
  • It integrated place-based innovations and solutions into the community development sector.
  • It elevated narratives that recognize the systemic challenges facing justice-impacted communities but also uplifted stories of strength, resilience and capacity to propose priorities and solutions.
  • It used those first-person narratives to develop and implement practice, programming and policy.

Culture of Justice Grantees

Culture of Justice Resources

Creating Healthier Places with Art and Artists

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The Saving Power of Community Creativity

As communities begin shifting from COVID-19 immediate response efforts to long-term recovery, now is the time to recognize the true value that arts, culture and Creative Placemaking organizations bring to…

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