September 17, 2018

DIVEST/INVEST: From Criminalization to Thriving Communities

We believe that our collective investments in housing, education, health, transportation, food security, and jobs will fail if we do not also proactively work to divest this nation’s resources from criminalization. Divest/Invest: From Criminalization to Thriving Communities, an intersectional toolkit website created by Funders for Justice, helps grantmakers connect with funder colleagues and groups or campaigns working to adress how criminalization impacts youth, civic engagement, immigrant rights, rural communities, LGBTQ rights, and more.

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As Zachary Norris, FFJ Field Advisor and Executive Director of Ella Baker Center for Human Rights notes, "Too often, conversations about public safety revolve around punishment and fear. Safety is about more than that — it’s about having a living wage job, healthy food, and being able to afford childcare, healthcare, and housing.”

Jenny Arwade, FFJ Field Advisor and Co-Director of Communities United, explains: “The dominant narrative has focused on how communities have suffered chronic disinvestment which is devastating enough. Then to hear how many trillions of dollars have been invested in these same communities to incarcerate, deport, and tear apart families…”

This website is ultimately an organizing tool for grantmakers, donors, and funder affinity groups to help you in confronting mass criminalization. Ask yourself, your co-workers, and your colleagues from other funding institutions: What does a safe community look like to you? And then ask your grantees and other field partners the same question. From there, we ask you: What action can you take to support communities to get to their own vision of safety? Learn about possible answers and solutions with this toolkit.

Funders for Justice is here to help you with reviewing your grantmaking strategy and practice, and with developing new grantmaking across any issue — whether or not you have been able to make the connection with the criminal justice system in the past. Write to us at for one-on-one strategy support.

Are you already funding in this area? Do you know great groups and campaigns? Do you want to connect with interested funder colleagues, or make sure that your institution is listed as a resource? Tell us about it! 

Access this resource at