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2023 Year End Message & Reflections



CCJFG Steering Committee member, Anuja Mendiratta (L) and CCJFG Chair, Iris Garcia (2nd from R) with organizers and authors of Healing Justice Lineages: Dreaming at the Crossroads of Liberation, Collective Care, and Safety. Cara Page and Erica Woodland (L-R) at an in-person event in July 2023.

Dear CCJFG Member,

As 2023 comes to an end, we know that the stakes are high for our movement partners. With the ongoing reality of state violence, backlash from “tough-on-crime” political agendas, and reforms that would undo decades of organizing, California’s grassroots movements for liberation, justice, and safety are as crucial as ever. Now is the time for us to reflect on CCJFG’s contributions to the field of criminal justice philanthropy and recommit to our values of anti-oppression, intersectionality, and trusting the leadership of people directly impacted by criminal-legal systems.

This year we centered our support of and belief in abolition strategies. We organized a three-part CCJFG member series on Funding Alternatives to the Prison Industrial Complex that focused on supporting and growing the community-led initiatives that reimagine what care and safety looks like. We learned from movement partners engaged in creating the “life-affirming institutions” our communities need. And we grappled with the question: what do we need to start, stop, and continue building to end mass incarceration? 

We deepened our alignment with grassroots leaders in California’s movements for safety, justice, and liberation. We completed our first two-year cycle of formal engagement with CCJFG Movement Advisors, who offered us valuable feedback and guidance. We published a statement opposing Governor Newsom’s “California Model'' of incarceration. We organized a follow-up briefing to educate funders on the decades-long work to close prisons, reduce corrections spending, and invest in communities. We encouraged funders to urge Governor Newsom to align his strategies with these grassroots movements.

We offered two in-person events that featured Black and Brown Women, Queer, Trans, and gender non-conforming leaders of intersectional abolitionist and healing justice movements. In July, we hosted Cara Page and Erica Woodland, authors of Healing Justice Lineages: Dreaming at the Crossroads of Liberation, Collective Care, and Safety for a conversation about how funders can support visionary efforts to transform generational trauma, advance systemic change, and address harm outside of the carceral state. In October, we co-organized a session at the CHANGE Philanthropy Unity Summit entitled Women Lead the Way for Justice and “Care-First” Los Angeles that highlighted the femme leadership at the core of the transformation in L.A.’s criminal legal system and the role of funders to ensure the implementation of the “Care First, Jails Last” plan. 

We are grateful to have collaborated with allied philanthropic institutions for our educational programs. If you missed them, below are quotations from a few of our speakers: 
  • "Funders have a responsibility not to undermine the most transformative demands from the grassroots. If we, your grantees, are saying close prisons, don’t support something that attempts to make the prisons beautiful…don’t build something that will have to be dismantled later."  -Brian Kaneda, Deputy Director, Californians United for a Responsible Budget
  • "80% of bail in California is paid for by Black and Brown women. The largest re-entry system in the country is Black and Brown women. We are the backbone of the re-entry system. We are the ones putting ourselves on the line and creating systems of care and re-entry, so hell yes, we need to be at the front, and hell yes, we need to be funded!" -Ivette Alé-Ferlito, Executive Director, La Defensa
  • "Our board is Trans women. We don’t ask them to fundraise because they are trying to survive. Our donors are our people. If you compare TransLatin@ Coalition to the LGBT Center, people give them hundreds of thousands of dollars like nothing. I don’t have that access. I know that all of this is about relationships and who you know. It’s important for us to recognize the power and access in philanthropy because that is how it works." -Bamby Salcedo, President and CEO, TransLatin@ Coalition
  • "We need interventions around the ways white supremacist and ableist culture within philanthropy continues to divide and conquer community-led care, safety, and healing justice interventions. How will you redistribute resources and build a reparations strategy that includes reckoning with and being accountable for the ways philanthropy perpetuates harm and undermines our movements?" -Erica Woodland, co-author of Healing Justice Lineages: Dreaming at the Crossroads of Liberation, Collective Care, and Safety

Our work for 2024 is already underway. We are in the midst of planning a funder convening in the Central Valley in late March with the intention of broadening funders’ knowledge about organizing in this region and increasing commitments to fund community-based organizations throughout the Central Valley. We will continue to support members’ education about abolition and will provide opportunities for members to learn together through the rigorous and intimate space of member meetings. We will take our cues from our movement partners and encourage philanthropic institutions to support organizations led by people directly impacted by incarceration through meaningful partnerships and long-term investments. 

Your support of CCJFG is essential. We hope that you will consider making a multi-year financial commitment to ensure the future of our work, as well as contribute your ideas, attend our meetings, and reach out to us directly at We know that strong partnerships amongst California funders is necessary in order to sustain the fortitude, clarity, and courage philanthropy needs to act in solidarity with grassroots movements for liberation and safety. 


Iris Garcia, CCJFG Chair

Adrienne Skye Roberts, CCJFG Coordinator 

CCJFG Members

Speakers and organizers of the session “Women Lead the Way for Justice and “Care First” Los Angeles” at CHANGE Philanthropy Summit in October 2023. Left to right: Melanie Havelin of John M. Lloyd Foundation, Molly Watson, Deputy Director of California Donor Table, Janet Asante, JusticeLA Media Coordinator, Dignity & Power Now, Ivette Alé-Ferlito, Executive Director, La Defensa, Bamby Salcedo, Present and CEO, Translatin@ Coalition, Supervisor Holly Mitchell, LA County Board of Supervisors, Anuja Mendiratta, Race, Gender, and Human Rights Fund, and Adrienne Skye Roberts, CCJFG


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