Criminal Justice Initiative (CJI)
Request for Proposals and 2018 Grant Application Information
CJI is requesting proposals from grassroots organizations working to transform the current U.S. criminal justice system.
This year CJI will fund groups that are engaged in strategic movement building efforts that build linkages with other sectors of the broader criminal justice movement.
The Criminal Justice Initiative (CJI) which began in 2000, was born out of a growing concern with prison expansion, mass incarceration and the impact of racial disparities on marginalized communities, especially in black and brown communities. The CJI Circle is an innovative grant-making panel comprised of donors, donor-activists and community organizers, some of whom have experienced incarceration. We share authority and a passion for supporting meaningful, transformative and systemic change of the criminal justice system. Understanding the limited funding for progressive criminal justice organizing, this Circle was launched as a means of creating a new source of support for this critical work. CJI’s mission is to end mass criminalization and mass incarceration in the United States. We seek to support work that will end the criminal justice system as we know it.
Each year we raise the grant-making funds, convene the Circle for political education, and determine our grant-making focus. The Circle then agrees on the RFP focus and the RFP distribution. We reconvene to evaluate proposals and make grant decisions. Given this process, there is currently no recurring annual deadline or guarantee of multi-year funding for CJI applicants.
The application process is online and does not require an invitation to apply.
CJI’s 2018 Funding Priorities
Criminal justice activists have long been involved in building a grassroots base of support to transform the criminal justice system. In recent years, high profile cases combined with budget shortfalls have led the media, the public, and elected officials to focus greater attention on alternatives to mass incarceration which activists have been proposing for years. CJI wants to build on this momentum.
This year CJI will fund groups that are engaged in strategic movement building efforts that build linkages--through alliances, collaborations, networks, partnerships, etc. -- with other sectors of the broader criminal justice movement.
CJI defines movement building as: An ongoing collaboration, both within and across communities, intended to eradicate core systems of injustice. For this grant application, collaborations may include those among grassroots or community organizations and/or between grassroots/community organizations, and people or groups working with transparency and integrity inside the institutions they seek to transform.
Successful strategies should promote new visions and viable solutions for long term change, while offering new approaches to challenging the status quo and pressing for change. They should also develop community leadership through increased political awareness, skills building, and/or healing practices.
General Funding Criteria
CJI will only fund the following:
- Organizations with a demonstrated commitment to including the leadership of people who have been incarcerated (defined as confinement in prison, jail detention, or deportation, military detention facility); a juvenile, immigrant, or and others who have been directly impacted by the system, as well as children and/or their families (including those impacted by court and immigration system).
- Organizations committed to achieving community change through organizing, including changes in policies, institutions, or other systems of control.
- Organizations with budgets of $550,000 or less. If you are under the umbrella of a larger organization, please define your relationship with that organization.
- While we fund new and previous grantees, CJI will ONLY consider previous grantees that have provided a CJI Progress Report with information about their most-recent CJI-funded work.
CJI Funding Preferences:
- Groups that operate in difficult political environments, e.g. in the presence of hostile campaigns, antagonistic public figures, or repressive laws;
- Groups that develop new leaders, especially from people who are marginalized within their own community, e.g. poor people, homeless people, young people, elders, queer and trans people, formerly incarcerated people, people with mental illness, people with disabilities, people in rural areas and/or on reservations, rancheros etc. Leadership development may also include healing or personal transformation work, especially within communities that have endured generations of violence and trauma, and who may be currently enduring state violence;
- Work that addresses discrimination or abuse against people who have been incarcerated or detained, including discrimination in housing, employment, voting and parental rights;
- Work being done in the South, Indian country and rural areas;
- Organizations with an identifiable path to leadership for their constituents;
- Organizations with an identifiable decision-making process for constituents/members/ or communities;
- Organizations that have a membership base;
- Groups that engage in innovative collaborations, building alliances among organizations with diverse backgrounds and common interests. Strong collaborations may include groups with geographic and demographic diversity (such as race, class, income, immigration status, ability & disability, gender & gender identity, sexual orientation, and age), as well as varying experience with incarceration, or detention, etc.
New Funding Criteria
- CJI may fund organizations that provide culturally appropriate healing/inner transformational programs that are connected to the criminal justice movement. We believe that healing is important to develop leadership among those most impacted by the criminal justice system, and to disrupt the cycle of incarceration.
- CJI does not fund direct assistance programs exclusively. However, CJI may fund organizations that, as part of a larger organizing strategy and or leadership development plan, help provide basic necessities to communities in desperate need; i.e. diapers to single parents in or near poverty; shelter to trans community members who suffer double digit housing insecurity, food to communities living in poverty.
- Organizations that have received 5 or more successive CJI grants are now REQUIRED to complete a short Long-term Grantee Evaluation Form. This must accompany the organization’s application and proposal.
- Organizations MUST meet the application deadline with all their required attachments. To accommodate an increased number of proposals due to an open application process, CJI will hold applicants strictly to the application deadline.
- CJI has an online application process through Submittable, at https://criminaljusticeinitiative.submittable.com/submit.
Process and Timeline
An organization wishing to apply to CJI should complete the online pre-screen questions, Cover Sheet, and the application with Submittable, at https://criminaljusticeinitiative.submittable.com/submit. If there are technical questions about the application process, a Submittable staff person is there to help you.
If you have questions about your organization’s eligibility, or the meaning of a question on the application, you are encouraged to reach out to Bridgette Butler at firstname.lastname@example.org BEFORE the deadline.
Download budget template here.
All applications are read and reviewed by a Pre-screen Team, comprised of one staff person, one donor and one activist. Those that fit the criteria are then passed on to the members of the Circle to read.
- Applications must attach the required documents such as budgets, tax-exempt letter, organization demographics chart, etc. to be considered.
- Applications from former grantees who received grants in 2017 MUST include a completed Progress Report to be considered.
- Organizations that have received a total of 5 or more CJI grants MUST submit a Long-term Grantee Evaluation Form to be considered.
The deadline for this application is TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 28, 2017. Grant decisions will be made by the CJI Circle, which convenes in mid-April of 2018. Grant announcements will be made in late April of 2018, with grants awards soon thereafter.