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Justice system reform projects receive over $2 million from joint philanthropy fund

Detroit

A group of national and local foundations today announced over $2 million in support to 12 organizations through the Michigan Justice Fund, an initiative designed to address inequities in the criminal justice system throughout the state.

The Michigan Justice Fund was established in early 2020 to assist groups working to advance effective and equitable justice policy. It has since grown to a funder collaborative of 14 foundations, including The Kresge Foundation.

As an initiative of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, the Michigan Justice Fund primarily seeks to help stem the flow of individuals into the criminal justice system, support the investment of public dollars to community-driven alternatives to incarceration, and ensure that those returning home after incarceration receive the support they need to flourish.

“Practitioners and advocates, those closest to the work of justice reform, have helped the Michigan Justice Fund to build a strategy for enacting smart and racially equitable justice policies that keep our communities safe and reduce barriers to opportunity,” said Melanca Clark, President & CEO, Hudson-Webber Foundation and Chair of the Michigan Justice Fund Steering Committee. “We are thrilled to deploy a round of investments to support organizations and projects that will move our state forward.”

“The Community Foundation is committed to improving racial equity and reducing Michigan’s reliance on detention and incarceration through an evidence-based and data-driven approach,” said Mariam Noland, President of the Community Foundation. “With this initiative, we are supporting economic prosperity strategies by partnering with foundations and organizations that are committed to strengthening the justice policy reform ecosystem in our state.”

“We announced our $1 million grant supporting the work of the Michigan Justice Fund last November as part of the foundation’s $30 million package of commitments to the racial justice movement nationwide,” noted Kresge Detroit Program Managing Director Wendy Lewis Jackson. “With its mission to address structural challenges within Michigan’s criminal justice system, and in particular, the racial disparities and injustices that permeate the system, the Michigan Justice Fund is addressing some of the most vexing and pernicious obstacles to true justice and sustainable safety.”

12 Grants from the Michigan Justice Fund (Roughly $2.27 Million)
  • ACLU Fund of Michigan – $316,320 for the Prosecutor Transparency Project, a research partnership with the Washtenaw, Oakland, and Ingham County prosecutors’ offices to examine prosecutorial decision-making impact on racial Minorities
  • Aspen Institute – $175,000 for the Aspen Criminal Justice Reform Initiative to launch the planning process for the Grand Rapids Justice and Governance Partnership, which is designed to advance multi-sector, jurisdictional approaches to reduce the reliance on the justice system
  • Center for Employment Opportunities – $200,000 to launch a Participant Advisory Council, a group of program alumni and participants designed to inform and lead justice reform efforts throughout Michigan
  • Citizens for Racial Equity in Washtenaw – $200,000 to address racial disparities across Washtenaw County’s juvenile and adult criminal legal systems
  • LINC UP – $80,000 for public education efforts and development of alternatives to current budgetary priorities in Grand Rapids
  • Michigan League for Public Policy – $400,000 to coordinate collaborative criminal legal reform efforts focused on racial equity and representation of justice-impacted people through the Michigan Collaborative to End Mass Incarceration
  • Michigan Prison Doula Initiative – $50,000 to grow childbirth preparation and doula support programs for incarcerated pregnant people
  • Neighborhood Defender Service – $200,000 for eviction/housing defense legal services for criminal defense clients in Wayne County
  • St. Luke N.E.W. Life Center – $200,000 for a collaborative program with M.A.D.E. Institute to provide returning citizens in transitional housing in Genesee County with job readiness training and work opportunities
  • Wayne State University – $200,000 for a pilot program designed to increase the success and economic mobility of formerly incarcerated individuals through strengthening access to higher education
  • Women’s Resource Center – $200,000 to expand New Beginnings, a program that provides women who are returning to the community after incarceration with education and employment services and support, to Muskegon and Ottawa counties
  • Youth Justice Fund – $50,000 for a trauma-informed, peer-support program that provides wraparound services for returning citizens who were incarcerated as youth

A group of 26 organizations across the state helped to develop the grantmaking strategy. These organizations were selected to be representative of a diverse cross-section of nonprofits from across Michigan that directly serve justice-impacted individuals.

Participating funders of the Michigan Justice Fund include Blue Meridian Partners on behalf of the Justice and Mobility Fund, the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, Community Foundation of Greater Flint, DTE Energy Foundation, Ethel & James Flinn Foundation, Ford Foundation, Grand Rapids Community Foundation, Hudson-Webber Foundation, Joyce Foundation, JPMorgan Chase, Kresge, Public Welfare Foundation, Ruth Mott Foundation and W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

As the Michigan Justice Fund looks forward, the collaborative will continue to strengthen the capacity of those working for justice reform, shift the narrative on incarceration, and build a network of engaged and informed funders.

Kresge staff is working remotely, and our offices are closed until further notice.  See our promise to partners during COVID-19.
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