Fall 2015

Responsive Philanthropy Fall 2015


Written by: Aaron Dorfman

Date: November 29, 2015

Dear Colleague,

Have you ever spent time with men or women who are incarcerated? When I was growing up, my mother served as the chaplain at the women’s prison in Shakopee, Minnesota. Getting to know the women and their stories helped me realize at an early age how horribly misguided and unfair our nation’s criminal justice system is. More than 2.3 million Americans are incarcerated, and our system is particularly unjust for people of color. Recently, I’ve been encouraged by the growing intersectional criminal justice reform movement, with campaigns to reform policing, prosecution policies, reentry opportunities and more. While it cannot cover the entire breadth of the subject, this edition of Responsive Philanthropy is a special issue devoted to what philanthropy can do to support these efforts.

In our cover story, the Common Counsel Foundation’s Alex Saingchin and Project Linked Fate’s Connie Cagampang Heller provide a framework for understanding criminal justice reform in “Building the Road to Belonging: Three Ways Philanthropy Can Help End Mass Criminalization.” By telling the story of the Ban the Box campaign’s growing success, Alex and Connie share a map for grantmakers to support the movement.

Next, in “The South and Criminal Justice Reform,” Grantmakers for Southern Progress’s LaTosha Brown discusses the regional outlook on criminal justice reform in a conversation with Niki Jagpal, NCRP’s senior director of research and policy. The interview touches on the changing culture in the South, the economic impetus for prisons and more.

In “How Philanthropy Can Help Close the School-to-Prison Pipeline,” Kyle Bacon draws on his years of experience in after-school programming to explain how our schools push many young people from school to jail. He explains how putting students and families most at risk at the center of creating intervention programs is key to their effectiveness.

Janay Richmond, field associate at NCRP, discusses the financial realities behind mass incarceration in “Following the Money: Why We Must Divest from Mass Incarceration.”

Black Benefactors’ Amoretta Morris brings in the perspective of the Black Lives Matter Movement in her op-ed, “Moving Money, Making Change: Funding the Movement for Black Lives.”

Our Member Spotlight looks at Faith in Florida, a PICO National Network affiliate working to unite communities of faith to advocate on systemic racial and economic issues, such as rights restoration for formerly incarcerated individuals.

The issue also provides key terms about mass incarceration and a resource list sharing criminal justice reform funders.

As always, we hope Responsive Philanthropy is a useful resource for everyone in philanthropy. We are always trying to improve – let us know how we’re doing at


Aaron Dorfman
Executive Director, NCRP