The City of Philadelphia today announced that the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Cluster’s Office of Criminal Justice will award twenty microgrants to community organizations that support the criminal justice reform efforts of the Kenney Administration. These grants of up to $10,000 are designed to advance racial equity in the criminal justice system and safely reduce the local jail population. The Criminal Justice Microgrant Fund will be administered by the Mayor’s Fund for Philadelphia. Resources for this effort are provided by the MacArthur Foundation Safety and Justice Challenge.
The Criminal Justice Microgrant Fund is supporting organizations that advance criminal justice reform from a policy perspective, directly engage Philadelphia’s communities disproportionately impacted by the criminal justice system in the reform work, and/or provide support services to individuals impacted by the system as a whole. These grants will support the continuation of existing criminal justice reform efforts and new projects and/or innovative approaches to criminal justice reform.
“From the beginning of our Administration, we have worked to end mass incarceration and address systemic racism that causes significant harm to our Black and Brown communities,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “These grants double down on our commitment to bringing about just and safe reform.”
Twenty community organizations received a combined total of approximately $200,000 in funding, with individual grants ranging from $4,800 to $10,000. The programs being funded include both new and existing efforts ranging from career skill-building, mentorship, and help for returning citizens reconnecting to their communities. The funding also directly supports workshops and “safe spaces” for young people who are at risk of encountering the criminal justice system.
“These grants underscore the importance of the City’s recent realignment of criminal justice reform and public safety work into a holistic approach,” said Erica Atwood, Senior Director for the Office of Policy and Strategic Initiatives for Criminal Justice and Public Safety.
“With this funding, we are making sure the solutions to decades of oppression are spread across multiple organizations, while elevating the voice of the community. The grant application process, which opened with letters of intent on September 22, 2020 and closed November 3, 2020, brought in 42 applications. Organizations that were invited to submit a full proposal did so by February 21, 2021. A collaborative grants committee made up of diverse representatives from criminal justice partner agencies and the Community Advisory Committee completed a robust selection process, from which 20 awardees were chosen.
“The Community Advisory Committee is very excited for the first round of microgrant awards. We recognize that more funding is needed for our City's non-profit organizations engaged in work that directly impacts the criminal justice system and provides services to justice involved persons,” said Brittany Weston, Vice-chair of the Community Advisory Committee.
“This is a strong first step in supporting community-based leadership and programs that directly impact positive change in the justice system. The CAC continues to be available to the community and any organization interested in learning more about the microgrants process and our work to address the missions of the MacArthur Foundation Safety and Justice Challenge."
These grants will be more than one-time investments. Selected organizations will be part of a collective network, coming together to bring about real change in Philadelphia’s criminal justice system. Throughout the grant year, the Office of Criminal Justice will provide networking opportunities, capacity building training sessions, and engagement opportunities through the Safety and Justice Challenge reform effort. The Criminal Justice Microgrant Fund will forge meaningful, lasting partnerships that allow for information sharing and problem-solving and will address the needs of the communities we serve.
The grants come days after the CJPS Office of Reentry Partnerships announced $60,000 in funding for recipients of the Reentry Solutions Microgrants for Community Engagement which bring together grassroots community organizations and City government to better handle the numerous challenges faced by Philadelphians released from incarceration and those under county probation or parole supervision.
This reentry program, combined with the $400,000 of support for the Targeted Community Investment Grants for violence reduction, emphasize the Administration’s multi-pronged and holistic approach to both public safety and systemic reforms that are informed by decades of oppression, racism and poverty faced by People of Color.