Awards recognize effective change agents in criminal justice reform
Reinvestment Fund today announced five nonprofits as winners of its 2021 Community Champion Award: Georgia Justice Project , Southern Center for Human Rights, Youth Sentencing and Re-entry Project, Gangstas to Growers, and The Liberation Foundation. The annual awards are part of an employee-driven grants program that recognizes high-impact nonprofits in cities where Reinvestment Fund’s offices are located. The 2021 awards were targeted to organizations working to eliminate disparities in the criminal justice system.
“We recognize that the repercussions of racial bias and inequities in the criminal justice system cast a long shadow on the communities we deeply care about when it comes to safety and opportunity,” said Amanda High, Chief of Strategic Initiatives at Reinvestment Fund. “With these awards, we are honored to support those who are doing the difficult and exemplary work to create a fairer and more equitable criminal justice system.”
Awardees were selected by an appointed staff committee that made its choices from a pool of organizations nominated by staff. The 2021 total award size of $100,000 is significantly larger than what it has been in past years in recognition of the urgency with which reforms must be achieved.
Among the awardees is The Liberation Foundation, a Philadelphia-based nonprofit founded by exoneree Terrance Lewis, who served over 21 years on a wrongful murder conviction. The Liberation Foundation advocates for wrongfully convicted people who do not yet have legal representation and those serving disproportionate sentences.
“This award is heaven sent and foundational for our organization as we work to right the wrongs of old,” said Terrance Lewis. “The timing of the award has been especially significant as we just launched an investigation to help exonerate someone who was convicted 50 years ago. This award will support that labor and support the many others who have been wrongly convicted.”
The Southern Center for Human Rights (SCHR) is also an awardee. SCHR is based in Atlanta and works for equality, dignity, and justice for people impacted by the criminal legal system in the Deep South. SCHR fights for a world free from mass incarceration, the death penalty, the criminalization of poverty, and racial injustice.
“We are honored and grateful to have been selected for the Reinvestment Fund’s Community Champion Award and to be in the company of other amazing organizations working towards transformative justice,” said Terrica Redfield Ganzy, Executive Director for SCHR. “This award affirms the work that we’re all doing to improve our communities and our world. The unrestricted funding allows us to nimbly meet the needs of the people we serve, which is crucial to improving lives and creating systemic change.”
The Community Champion Award is a grants program that recognizes nonprofit organizations that are aligned with Reinvestment Fund’s own mission. In addition to this year’s awards to the criminal justice reform sector, Reinvestment Fund is also hosting a series of educational events on the topic for its staff. The first of these was a guest lecture by Keir Bradford-Gray, currently a partner at Montgomery McCracken, and formerly the Chief Defender of the Defender Association of Philadelphia