An initial commitment of $350M.

And that’s just the start.

We know the pathway to progress is often not a straight line. Wins aren’t always apparent or easy to measure. The Hollywood-ending moments, the quieter triumphs, and the lessons in disguise are all progress in our book. We fight for the biggest thing we can—without letting perfect be the enemy of good. And we use every tool in our toolbox. We:

  • Scale and diversify resources for the field
  • Build coalitions across the political and ideological spectrum
  • Conduct research and build new tools
  • Make 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) grants to support state and national advocacy infrastructure; narrative change, media and communications; new and proven front-end safety models; ballot measures, legislative campaigns, and implementation

Amber Bjornsson, West Virginia Council of Churches and Beverly Sharp, WVCC & REACH
Photo of Beverly Sharp & Amber Bjornsson
Focus Areas
Focus Areas

Advocacy Infrastructure

Justice reform organizations and their day-to-day operations at the state and national level—with a focus on impacted leaders and state-based activities.

We work to provide stable, largely multi-year general operating funds to help criminal justice reform advocacy organizations across the country do what they do best. For multi-issue organizations, we provide project support for criminal justice reform advocacy work.

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Campaign Moments

Investment in key advocacy moments—from public education to ballot measures—with a bounded timeline and goals.

We encourage our existing advocacy grantees to return for campaign-related funding requests. We can come in at any stage of a campaign, and often work to scale and align additional resources from across the field.

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Community Safety Solutions

Supporting bold front-end (pre-arrest & pre-trial) models for preventing crime, repairing harm, centering accountability, and strengthening communities.

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Media & Narrative Projects

News media infrastructure and narrative work that helps elevate justice reform and shifts the way we talk and think about the system.

This portfolio works to help build up and protect essential news media infrastructure for justice reporting, nationally and at the state and local level. Grants work to increase quality, community-driven coverage on this issue that gets people the information they need and does not reinforce stigmas or harm. We also support creative projects with the ability to move hearts and minds.

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Partnership & Coordination

Creating inroads and weaving connections between funders, decision makers, and experts to channel resources, expertise, and ultimately maximize impact.

We provide resources for gatherings and convenings, coordinated projects between organizations inside and outside of the criminal justice field, and efforts to build bridges across divides.

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Rapid Response

Critical moment of crisis or opportunity.

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Keturah Herron, Kentucky State Representative & former ACLU Kentucky with Marcus Jackson, ACLU Kentucky Smart Justice Advocates
Photo of Keturrah Herron & Marcus Jackson
Keturah Herron, Kentucky State Representative & former ACLU
Photo of Keturrah Herron
Active ProgramsActive Programs

Safer Communities Accelerator

The Safer Communities Accelerator supports a growing community of organizations that are advancing innovative models for preventing crime, repairing harm, and building stronger, safer communities.

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State By State

Our State by State funding initiative is focused on building up criminal justice reform advocacy infrastructure in all 50 states. With access to sustained, flexible funding, advocacy groups on the ground can be more nimble and responsive to needs and opportunities in their communities—whatever they might be.

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Rolling Grant InquiriesRolling Grant Inquiries

Are you advancing justice reform in your work? Let us know what you’re up to.

The Just Trust always wants to hear about the important work of organizations – across the country and across the political spectrum – that are fighting for a smaller justice system and safer communities. 

Use this form to tell us what you’re up to. While we have limited funding available for new grantee partners in 2024, we review submissions quarterly and will reach out if our work is aligned and we have open funding opportunities.

What state(s) do you work in?
In 2-3 sentences, tell us briefly about your work or project:
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If you have questions about how we make decisions about grants, our diligence process, or what to expect as a grantseeker, we’re here to answer them.

These are the basic steps related to the process, and you can also read our Grantseeker Guide for more detailed information.

Get in touch

There are lots of ways to get on our radar for a grant. They include: filling out the grants inquiry form on our website, email connections, meeting a team member at an event, a recommendation from a current grantee or someone in the field, and much more. In some cases, maybe we learned about you first and reached out proactively.

Fit check

One of our program officers will review your organization’s work, proposal (if one already exists), website, and any other information we receive at point of contact to assess whether you might be a fit – meaning, whether it fits into our theory of change and we have funding available.

Have a conversation

If it might be a fit, you will have a series of conversations with a designated program officer, and may be asked to send some additional materials so we can learn as much as possible. We will ask about funds needed, how they will be used, what other funders you are working with, your long term and short term vision, and more. We will have an open dialogue about what our partnership could look like.

Invitation to apply

If things are tracking well, the program officer will invite you to formally apply for a grant through our grant portal, GivingData. This invitation is not a guarantee of grant funding, but rather an advancement to the next stage: financial and legal due diligence.

Due diligence

In this stage, our Finance and Operations Team conducts a financial and legal review of the organization. This includes things like reviewing tax filings, fundraising registrations, budgets, governance models, and more. In some cases, we might need to ask for more information or work closely with you to remedy missing or inaccurate information in this stage. Note that the diligence process may vary slightly for organizations at different stages in their development. For example, if we are seed funding a brand new organization or project, it might not have quite the same checklist as more established organizations. All organizations that receive funding from The Just Trust go through the same level of diligence based on their stage.


If the full proposal passes the due diligence process, we will send a grant agreement and you will receive funding approximately 30 days later. If you’ve made it to this stage, we really want to fund your work and will do what we can to make it happen!


At The Just Trust, we fund, support, and connect visionary leaders and organizations fighting for the safety and wellbeing of their communities,— state-by-state and across the nation. By investing in their know-how and networks – and growing the pool of flexible resources available for their work – we can help create stronger, more resilient state and national advocacy ecosystems.

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Change Is Happening

From the mountains of West Virginia to the coasts of California - we invest in advocates that know how to navigate the nuances of reform on their home fronts. We’re backing their efforts for durable transformation - embracing wins and shouldering losses, no matter how big or how small

These are just a few of the people who inspire us to come to work every day. They live the cause of The Just Trust, inside and out, showing us and the broader movement what’s possible when we center lived experiences, collaborate to drive momentum, and lead with dignity and humanity.


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"My husband has been incarcerated for 17 long years. To see the treatment, injustices, conditions, and retaliation they go through daily has led me to fight for the men/women incarcerated. One can say they are holding these men/women for “ransom”, because it’s not about public safety or rehabilitation, it’s about greed, money, and suffering. I will fight until I can’t anymore to change this deadly, deadlocked system."

Diyawn Caldwell, Both Sides of the Wall

Diyawn Caldwell knows the devastation of the criminal justice system firsthand, as her husband serves a 17-year sentence in an Alabama prison. Alabama is one of the worst incarcerators in the country, with the 6th highest incarceration rate, the 4th highest rate of extreme sentences, and the 11th highest share of Black people in prison (2019). And, it has the worst prison conditions in the country. Diyawn and Both Sides of the Wall led grassroots mobilization for a statewide prison strike in 2022, organizing incarcerated people and their loved ones on the outside. The strike brought awareness to major sentencing reform and parole issues, and overall conditions.


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“In Kentucky, we have created a platform for dialogue between legislators and directly impacted people that we never believed possible! Our voices have been ignored on every level—from the courthouse, throughout periods of incarceration, and upon reentry, but NO MORE. We won’t stop speaking up for the systems we deserve.”

Keturah Herron & Marcus Jackson, ACLU Kentucky, Smart Justice Advocates

According to Herron and Jackson, Kentucky’s political landscape can be criminal justice reformists’ nightmare. It’s full of so many challenges, but with the right level of open-mindedness, respect, and integrity, it can be a leader in the fight for change. Because “our country goes as the South goes!”


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"While national politics can appear so dispiriting right now. I'm incredibly humbled by the opportunity to work together with Oklahomans across the ideological spectrum and from every walk of life to help build a criminal legal system that truly serves every community. We can build a state where treatment is easier to access than prisons, where zip code, wealth and race don't determine one's access to justice, and where every community is genuinely protected and safe."

Damion Shade, Executive Director of Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform

Damion Shade, the Executive Director of Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform, played a critical role in architecting the state's first Clean Slate bill to automatically clear criminal records for Oklahomans in 2022. By partnering with other leading advocacy organizations in the state, including Right on Crime, the Oklahoma Council for Public Affairs, the Clean Slate Initiative, and Oklahoma Policy Institute (all partners of The Just Trust), the law is now poised to help remove key barriers to success—including housing and employment—for thousands of residents.

West Virginia
West Virginia

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“Coming from a lengthy career in law enforcement and corrections, it’s important to work with justice-impacted people, to find common ground and build a strong foundation for meaningful and long-term change. The system isn’t broken, it is working exactly the way it was designed. Until we can bring all sides together we will not be able to move forward in building a better and more just process.”

Beverly Sharp, West Virginia Council of Churches

According to Amber Bjornsson, a formerly incarcerated leader also at the West Virginia Council of Churches, West Virginia is “ground zero for the opiate epidemic - for the criminalization of property. If West Virginia can make successful changes and weight can be lifted off the people of Appalachia, then any state can do it.”

Partner With Us

When we think about the amount of money that goes into maintaining the status quo, philanthropy feels like a drop in the bucket. But, the more we can work together to scale, align, and deploy resources against common strategies in the advocacy space, the better chance we have at sustaining momentum for the long term. If you’re thinking about investing in reform, please reach out. We need all hands on deck.

For more information on how to work with The Just Trust, please contact Investment Partnerships Manager, Matt Boitano (