April 29, 2021
Philadelphia has awarded microgrants to 20 community organizations fighting for criminal justice reform, along with establishing an ongoing support network to address violence and injustice in the city.
Organizations, like Unincarcerated Minds, which helps provide employment opportunities to incarcerated, formerly incarcerated and marginalized community members, will receive up to $10,000 from the Criminal Justice Microgrant Fund.
The city says these grants are "more than a one time investment." The organizations will join a network that works with the city to provide training, networking and engagement opportunities.
"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," Mayor Jim Kenney said in a press release. "These grants double down on our commitment to bringing about just and safe reform."
Kenney announced the news at the city's biweekly briefings on gun violence and solutions, which convenes in light of the city's gun violence epidemic. Homicides are up 33% from last year, and shootings are up 37%. Domestic violence-related homicides have doubled since last year, according to Philadelphia police data.
So far, police have made more than 1,000 firearm violation arrests. This time last year, there had been just 500 arrests.
Forty-two organizations applied for these grants last September. Groups led by Black, Indigenous or People of Color, and those most impacted by the criminal justice system, were prioritized in the selection process, the city said.
Other factors, like organizations that advanced criminal justice reform from a policy perspective, directly engaged with the most impacted communities and those that provide support services were highlighted as well.
Unsolved Murders in Philadelphia, which partners with law enforcement in criminal investigations against families in the community, was also selected to receive a grant. It is a family-owned and operated nonprofit founded by Isaac Gardner, a formerly incarcerated community activist.
"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.
The funds will be administered by the Mayor's Fund for Philadelphia and resources were provided by the MacArthur Foundation Safety and Justice Challenge, which strives to make the criminal justice system more racially equitable.