As many of you know, Prop 47 was a referendum passed by Californians in 2014 that reclassified nonviolent crimes once considered felonies into misdemeanors. Since the 1980’s the state of California constructed 22 new prisons and just one university. Prop 47 was an effort to address their rapidly expanding prison system and to reallocate the savings to “school truancy and dropout prevention, mental health and substance abuse treatment, and victim services.” The intent was to provide offenders with the type of action that would prevent them from committing these acts again in the future, in hopes that early intervention might stop others from going down this road at all.
The California Association of Nonprofits and California Philanthropy (Northern California Grantmakers, San Diego Grantmakers and Southern California Grantmakers) hosted “Prop 47: Look Back. Look Forward,” a webinar discussing how the citizens of California addressed their overzealous criminal justice system, the progress that has been made since that historic decision and the major work that lies ahead. According to the presenters, since Prop 47, there have been 43,000 fewer felony convictions each year and 18,000 fewer people incarcerated, saving the state $73 million. Prop 47 also gives a path, open until November 2017, for Californians to petition to have their criminal records changed, and more than 160,000 Californians have petitioned so far. As funders and community leaders race to think of smart ways to engage the millions of others qualified to reap the benefits of this life-altering referendum before the deadline hits, I found myself having a “look back, look forward” moment of my own.
Last year at the 2015 NCRP Impact Awards, Prop 47 was on our minds as we recognized Open Society Foundations for their work helping to fund Vote Safe, the organization that directed the campaign for the referendum. As I look forward to the 2016 NCRP Impact Awards on May 3rd, I wonder what progressive victories we’ll be able to celebrate then. Nominations close tomorrow, so now is the time to submit up to 10 foundations that demonstrate exemplary grantmaking, leadership and commitment to diversity, inclusion and equity.
The year 2015 was full of triumphs and admirable hard fought losses, so as you spend the first few weeks of the New Year reflecting on the gift of life and our loved ones and the progress that we’ve made as a progressive community, please also think of the foundation partners whose presence has helped to make that progress possible. Nominate now!
And please save the date for the 2016 NCRP Impact Awards reception, to be held on the evening of Tuesday, May 3, 2016 during the Grantmakers for Effective Organizations’ Conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Janay Richmond is a field associate at the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP). Follow @NCRP and @JanayRichmond1 on Twitter and join the #2016NCRPImpactAwards conversation!