About the Michigan Justice Fund

How Did We Get Here?

In September 2018, the Hudson-Webber Foundation co-hosted a convening with the Michigan Committee on Juvenile Justice, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy and the Michigan League for Public Policy, energizing a diverse constituency interested in reducing crime, increasing community well-being, improving the outcomes of youth and at-risk adults, and establishing racial equity within Michigan’s systems of justice. This convening resulted in two roundtable reports highlighting the opportunities and challenges to advancing effective and equitable justice policy in Michigan.

Following the release of the reports, two key questions emerged:
How prepared is Michigan’s policy environment to advance justice reform initiatives?
How can philanthropy contribute to supporting a thriving enabling environment and help advance effective and equitable justice policy in the State of Michigan?

A group of national and Michigan-based foundations met together with advocates, policy and research organizations, people directly impacted by justice involvement, and policymakers to explore these questions. A small subset of these foundations came together to provide an initial investment to map the justice policy ecosystem and develop a roadmap to chart out a collaborative philanthropic strategy to create a thriving enabling environment in Michigan necessary to advance justice reform initiatives.

The Vision

The Michigan Justice Fund (MJF) is a funders’ collaborative that makes investments to stem the flow of individuals into the criminal justice system, support the investment of public dollars to community-driven alternatives to incarceration, and ensure that those who are returning home after incarceration receive the support they need to flourish. The Michigan Justice Fund is comprised of Michigan-based and national funders dedicated to advancing justice reform and the economic mobility of individuals with criminal convictions in Michigan. 

The Fund is housed at the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan (CFSEM), a multi-faceted, full-service philanthropic organization leading the way to positive change in southeast Michigan. The Community Foundation promotes and facilitates community philanthropy in seven counties in southeast Michigan: Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Monroe, Washtenaw, Livingston and St. Clair. CFSEM helps donors invest in organizations they care about — locally and nationwide. The Michigan Justice Fund is a statewide initiative.

This Fund is designed to have impact in the following ways:

  • Strengthen capacity of practitioners seeking to advance effective justice policy and practice in Michigan, support the economic mobility of individuals most impacted by the justice system, and intentionally support the leadership of people of color-led organizations on the frontlines of justice reform.
  • Advance racial equity in Michigan by addressing racial disparities in the juvenile and adult justice systems, and support communities of color that have been historically under-resourced and impacted by the justice system
  • Build a sustainable network of funders and donors who are informed and engaged to support safety and justice within Michigan communities.
  • Shift the dominant narrative that associates community safety with incarceration to one that lifts economic security & mobility and access to health care and education as foundational to safe and just communities.

Goals and Objectives 

Goal 1: Strengthen Michigan’s funding, policies, and practices to support the economic mobility and overall success of people with criminal records. 

  • Objective 1.1: Ensure a racial equity framework is used to guide public policy, funding, and system change decisions. 
  • Objective 1.2: Decrease spending on justice system agencies and increase funding for community-led priorities. 
  • Objective 1.3: Increase innovation in policy and practice to decrease recidivism and improve economic mobility for system-impacted people. 

Goal 2: Reduce the reliance on confinement and adjudication.

  • Objective 2.1: Advance policy changes and system practices to reduce length of stay and administrative use of confinement.
  • Objective 2:2: Increase the use of alternatives to incarceration and arrest, and the public funding necessary for success.
  • Objective 2.3: Increase the visibility of the presence of racial disparities across the justice system continuum to motivate change.

Goal 3: Build a movement for communities to shape justice policies and funding.

  • Objective 3.1: Support narrative change and communication strategies that shift public opinion about the need for justice system reform in Michigan.
  • Objective 3.2: Build the political power of communities impacted by the justice system through cross-sector collaboration, training, and organizing.
  • Objective 3.3: Increase the use of compelling data and research to inform advocacy efforts.
  • Objective 3.4: Support ripe and emerging opportunities that contribute to a strong enabling environment for reform.

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Surabhi Pandit

Questions? Feel free to contact

Surabhi Pandit

Director, Human Services Initiatives