The Harm Reduction Coalition has invited technical assistance providers to join the Diversion Hub of the University of Pre-Trial.
Instructions for joining are available here.

In partnership with The Open Society Foundations U.S. Programs,
The Criminal Justice Initiative of the Solidago Foundation announces:

Arrest Diversion MicroGrants to Support Equity & Inclusion

DEADLINE: September 20, 2018

The Criminal Justice Initiative (CJI) is excited to continue its partnership with the Open Society Foundations to fund viable alternatives to mass criminalization and incarceration as a response to drug use, sex work, and other subsistence-driven trade. This funding collaboration is intended to strengthen community-driven health services and resource interventions made prior to or instead of arrest. Our goal is to improve the capacity of community-based organizations to deliver resources and harm-reduction services shown to improve health and well-being. We define harm reduction services as those that are non-coercive and take place pre-arrest and pre-booking. Harm reduction services may address the harm caused by sexual violence and other forms of trauma.

10-15 one-time micro-grants between $5,000 and $25,000 will be awarded through a competitive application process. Ongoing funding is not guaranteed.

CJI will manage the application process. Grant selection will occur through consensus by CJI’s circle of activists and survivors of the war on drugs. Grant applications must be submitted online here to apply for these competitive grant funds.  Please read all instructions carefully.


Aug. 16th: RFP Release Date

Sept. 20th: DEADLINE to submit application to CJI via submittable at

Jan. 2019: Grant Funds Disbursed

Oct. 2020: Reporting and Feedback to CJI/OSF


CJI will prioritize proposals that demonstrate authentic community engagement strategies that empower participants and engage directly affected populations in co-design, implementation and evaluation of arrest diversion initiatives. Proposed activities should be responsive to the needs of over-policed communities, providing opportunities to gain the tools and networks to systematically divert those facing greatest risk of incarceration.

Drug Arrest Diversion programs addressing one or several of the following aspects will be particularly compelling to CJI and OSF. This is not an exhaustive list.

  • Support organizing behind bars

  • Promote decriminalization as part of the diversion program

  • Promote decriminalizing immigration offenses

  • Combat criminalization around reproductive justice and drug use, including but not limited to overturning penalties related to the criminalization of abortion

  • Health-centered interventions that measurably reduce the harms of policing drug use/trade, sex work and other subsistence-based trade.

  • CJI will accept applications from organizations at any stage of developing an arrest diversion program. Proposals should be responsive to community needs, well thought out with a clear set of goals that can be achieved in 18 months.

●  Funding is not restricted to ‘low level’ offense diversion. We encourage plans to divert populations historically overlooked for diversion such as individuals deemed ‘high risk,’ such as those who are ‘gang-involved,’ or charged with felony or aggravated crimes.

●  Collaboration with other organizations is encouraged, but not required, especially if they can be shown to increase potential number, quality, or effectiveness of drug diversion programs in your area. For collaborations, please include a plan that explains the nature of the collaboration and how responsibilities will be allocated.

●  Collaboration with law enforcement is not in any way required as community organizations are the intended beneficiaries of this grant program.

●  Organizations whose programs include aspects of healing and or trauma-reduction, especially those specifically designed for directly-impacted communities, are encouraged to apply,

●  Proposals that have a concrete plan, indicating specific steps, responsible individuals, and timeline will be the most competitive.  

●  This is a specialized grant opportunity. CJI grantees that meet the criteria for this grant program are encouraged to apply. Application to this program does not disqualify an organization from consideration in the general CJI annual grants program.

●  Organizations that received an Arrest Diversion grant in the prior round ARE eligible to apply again.

●  Funding is prioritized for non-profit organizations and non-profit associations.

●  Individuals and single-person LLCs are NOT eligible.

●  501c3 registration is not required for entities operating under a fiscal sponsor or umbrella organization.

●  Applicant organizations must have an annual operating budget of no more than $550,000.


Projects will be selected based on ability to move the organization and its partners closer to implementing an arrest diversion system with sustainable survivor participation at the conclusion of the 18 month grant period. A maximum of 40% of the budget can be used to cover overhead expenses which can include costs such as printing, maintenance, rent, or other administrative costs.

The following are a few examples for how grantees can use this funding:

  • Hire a coach or trainer to help design an organizing strategy for local constituencies of criminalized drug users, sex workers, family members or others targeted by policing, including strengthening the engagement of community members in the planning and implementation of pre-arrest diversion programs.

  • Enhance stipends or paid expenses to include more survivors of the war on drugs, family members and community members living in poverty in the design or evaluation of arrest diversion programs.

  • Pay speaker fees and event costs for a jurisdiction-wide or neighborhood-based forum exploring community need and potential arrest diversion solutions.

  • Register for off-site leadership development or other programming to build technical skill sets and capacity to successfully direct health outcomes. 


For grantees just starting to plan a diversion project, we recommend organizations contact Katal Center for Health and Equity to customize technical assistance to meet your need. This may include training and other support for community members about (1) how to work with systems stakeholders and hold them accountable to community needs, or (2) how to connect local diversion programs and police accountability campaigns, with a focus on understanding the relationship between public safety and harm reduction. We recommend Katal because of their experience and because they have agreed to significantly reduce the cost of their trainings for organizations receiving these grants.

Grantee organizations are NOT required to work with Katal, but may use their own service providers, especially in cases where they have previous experience with them. Grantees are also invited to connect with resources and experts available at Unlike Katal Center, other providers are not funded by this partnership to reduce the cost to grantees. However, they may have competitive rates. Applicants/grantees must communicate with the provider directly to create a budget. OSF and CJI will not play a role in negotiating contract fees/expenses on behalf of any grantee.


Criminal Justice Initiative (CJI) at Solidago Foundation is committed to the end of mass criminalization and resulting mass incarceration, driven in no small part by a failed drug war predicated on punishment for drug use and its related behaviors, and targeted to devastate communities. Communities marginalized by race, class, housing status, sexual orientation, gender identity, and citizenship status bear the brunt of the impact.

The US Drug Policy Program of the Open Society Foundations seeks to establish a new paradigm for U.S. drug policies that addresses actual harm to individuals and communities, promotes health and social stability, ensures public safety and justice and advances equality and the freedoms of an open and democratic society. Funding for this initiative is to support equitable and high quality pre-arrest and pre-booking diversion programs that reduce use of incarceration and resource participants with harm-reduction interventions shown to improve community health and well-being.

Both OSF and CJI believe integrating activists and directly impacted leaders within funding decision-making is the best way to fund organizations. Under the direction of the Criminal Justice Initiative of the Solidago Foundation, a circle of activists will review all eligible applications and select the grant recipients in December. The Arrest Diversion for Equity and Inclusion grant for drug diversion engages an innovative, truly diverse grant-making panel comprised of community organizers, activists, directly-impacted survivors of the war on drugs, including some with a history of incarceration, drug policy experts and advocates, and individual donors, who share a passion for meaningful, transformative, systemic change of the criminal justice system, especially as it relates to drug policy.

As a funding partner, Open Society Foundations is resourcing the grant dollars and helping train circle participants but all grant-making decisions are made by participants in the Circle under the guidance of CJI staff.

Finally, this partnership includes funding to reduce the cost of technical assistance for smaller, less-resourced organizations. The Katal Center for Health Equity and Justice supports strategic planning on alternatives to incarceration and brings extensive experience with harm reduction programming, pre-arrest or pre-booking diversion programming, and community organizing and education. The Katal Center contributes to this initiative by offering training and support for organizations to achieve the goals, objectives, and outcomes related to this project.

Process and Timeline for Grant Decisions

Completed applications must be submitted no later than September 20, 2018 at midnight PST at or via the button below. The Circle will convene and decisions will be announced and processed in December 2018.

In an effort to strengthen the movement, CJI provides debrief sessions with applicants that did not receive a grant. This is intended to increase knowledge about the grantmaking process in general, and to share information with organizations that will help in future applications to CJI or any other funder. Therefore, organizations that did not receive a grant are encouraged to schedule a debrief with CJI in a time-frame that will be announced with the grant decisions.

Download budget template here

Feel free to contact CJI with any questions at or by calling the CJI office at 646-849-9172.


Prospective applicants can schedule calls with Charlene Allen to ask questions related to the RFP, in advance of the deadline. Charlene will be available on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from approximately 2pm to 5pm, starting August 21 through September 19. Applicants can schedule calls at In the field asking for your ‘Full Name,’ please also include a contact phone number where Charlene can reach you at your appointed time.


PLEASE NOTE: Submittable does not work on older web browsers, particularly Safari. Please apply using the most updated version of Google Chrome, ideally. If necessary, Mozilla Firefox is a second option. If you still cannot access the application, please email

If none of the browser options work, please download the Word and Excel templates from the CJI website and email them, along with required financial documents, to