Letter From Our Founder

Letter From Our Founder

September 20, 2021

Dear Friends of The Just Trust,

We’re officially in business! Thank you to our community, allies, and partners who supported this journey to build a brand new grantmaking organization from the ground up.

For those just joining, The Just Trust is a new fund that is 100% dedicated to criminal justice reform. But we’re not here to reinvent the wheel. The Just Trust is part of a much larger story, one forged by decades of advocates championing justice reform. We exist to accelerate their momentum—from watershed legislative victories to the generations-long battles that change perceptions—across every corner of the country. We want to help transform the justice system into a just and compassionate engine of public safety for all—one where we hold each other to account, treat each other with dignity, and where the strength of our communities keeps people safe.

How will we get there? By listening to the field, building bridges EVERYWHERE, taking risks, learning from every win and loss, amplifying the voices of those on the ground, and by constantly evolving.

As we officially open our doors this week, I have a few key updates to share.

Funding Priorities

For the last nine-ish months, we’ve engaged in deep stakeholder listening and strategy building work with field advisors from across sectors (more on that below). These leaders helped us sharpen our theory of change; better understand the needs, challenges, and aspirations of our diverse and resilient movement; and pressure test ideas about the role that philanthropy can and should play in this fight. Out of this, our funding priorities were formed.We will give, beginning in early 2022, across the following six buckets:

1. Advocacy Infrastructure

We will fund 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.

2. Campaign Moments

We will invest in key advocacy moments—from public education to ballot measures— with bounded timelines and clear goals.

3. Narrative Projects

We will invest in storytelling and media initiatives that shift the way we talk and think about justice.

4. Justice Alternatives

We will support community-centered models for justice that prevent crime, repair harm, and strengthen communities.

5. Partnership & Coordination

We will help create inroads and weave connections between funders, decision makers, and experts to channel resources, expertise, and ultimately, maximize impact. Events, convenings, knowledge sharing, bold collaborations—all fall here.

6. Rapid Response

We will be there to fund you in a critical moment of crisis or opportunity.

Interested in Receiving Funding? We Want to Hear From You

If your organization is doing work in these areas, drop us a
line. There is a form on the homepage of our brand new website where you can submit your information.

Board and Staffing Updates

I’m thrilled to welcome Jenny Kim, VP of Operations and General Counsel at The Philanthropy Roundtable, to our 501(c)4 board of directors. Please also meet our previously announced founding board members, get to know our growing leadership team, and view open positions at The Just Trust.

Thank you, thank you, thank you

One more time for the people in the back—THANK YOU to our brilliant 2021 field advisors
who helped shape The Just Trust’s brand and strategy. Your expertise and candor has pushed us outside of our comfort zone (in a very good way). Your voices are invaluable. Read more about our advisors.

Out in the World

We’re finally getting out there after months of being heads down.

  • The Just Trust is partnering with The 19th on an upcoming event “How Mass Incarceration Impacts Families.” Tune in at 10am PDT/1pm EST on September 29th (I’ll be speaking at the top!)
  • We’re on social—follow us @TheJustTrust (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram)
  • Sign up for our newsletter for real time updates on funding opportunities, job updates, and more!

Let’s do this.

Ana Zamora,

Founder & Executive Director, The Just Trust