Art for Justice Fund
Funder Profile: Art for Justice Fund
What does it mean to you to be a partner with The New York Women’s Foundation in the Justice Fund?
The New York Women’s Foundation is a model for thoughtful and community-centered philanthropy. New York City is home base for the Art for Justice Fund, which operates nationwide. It was vital for us to have a trusted partner that helps steer our City towards justice, especially for women and families. The Foundation’s participatory approach and its ability to make space for women to author their own experiences to effect change made the Justice Fund a natural fit for collaboration.
Your work supports system-impacted young people in New York City. What is the importance of investing in alternatives that promote their overall well-being?
Young people who have been harmed by the legal system, especially those who are Black and brown, are most exposed to institutional oppression. Many of these children are underserved by their schools, health care providers, public planning board and/or the criminal justice system. Long before they’re old enough to understand how and why these systems exist, they experience the harm of community neglect. It’s our responsibility to invest in ending these traumas and put young people – the leaders of their own futures – in the room with decision makers. We want to center the young people’s voices, perspectives, and advocacy, so that these systems prioritize their overall health and well-being.
How can funders unite to transform the landscape of justice in New York City?
Foundations and funders have displayed both their strength and leadership during the COVID-19 crisis. We are witnessing the field creatively adapt in the moment by rallying our philanthropy community and eliminating the longstanding barriers that prevent or delay funds from reaching those in the work. Cutting the red tape is both more effective and efficient. Together, we need to meet the challenge of maintaining this mindset and energy moving forward.
What steps can funders take to elevate the voices of system-impacted women, children, families and individuals in their efforts to dismantle mass incarceration?
People who are most proximate to the harm are also most proximate to the solutions. Families who have been personally impacted by mass incarceration are field ‘experts.’ Our responsibility as funders is to center them to lead the movement. This goes beyond “passing the mic” to include providing financial and operating resources and cultivating a support system for our experts to further their capacity to create and organize. We create space for our leaders to nourish their well-being, continue professional and personal development, and spread their message.