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California Criminal Justice Funders Group Member Spotlight: The San Francisco Foundation

Monday, December 2, 2019

The San Francisco Foundation (SFF) is committed to ensuring that all people in the Bay Area are economically secure, rooted in vibrant communities and civically engaged. We envision a Bay Area where everyone is able to make ends meet and plan for their future, where culture and difference are celebrated, and where they are able to lift their voices to shape community policies that meet their needs and interests.

Link the rest to blog: Our holistic approach to equity includes grant funding, advocacy and leadership, deep partnerships and donor engagement. We are proud to share some of our key grantee partners and what they have accomplished to decriminalize communities of color, build leadership of people with lived experience in the justice system, and create spaces for organizing, healing, and economic well-being.

  • East Bay Community Law Center

The East Bay Community Law Center has played a key role in Debt Free Justice California, a multi-regional California-based coalition focused on ending the unfair ways the criminal legal system drains wealth from vulnerable communities. The organization’s research and advocacy helped eliminate $26 million in criminal justice fees for about 34,000 people, and it continues to push for further reform of fines and fees that push low-income people of color into cycles of debt and poverty. More broadly, EBCLC combines direct services, policy advocacy and training to address the underlying causes of poverty and economic and racial inequality, and focuses on the areas of economic security, education, health and welfare, housing, and immigration.

  • Legal Services for Prisoners with Children

Legal Services for Prisoners with Children organizes communities impacted by the criminal justice system and advocates to release incarcerated people, to restore human and civil rights, and to reunify families and communities. Along with coalition partners, LSPC’s All of Us or None grassroots civil and human rights group, successfully advocated for six criminal justice bills that were signed into California law this year, two of which were co-sponsored by LSPC:

  • SB 136 (Weiner) removes the 1-year sentence enhancement that is applied to current sentences for each prior felony jail or prison term served.
  • SB 310 (Skinner) permits a person with a felony conviction to serve on a jury, unless they are on any form of supervision for a felony conviction or are a registered sex offender.

LSPC also elevates the leadership of formerly incarcerated people in criminal justice reform through the Ronald "Elder" Freeman Policy Fellowship, an intensive year-long fellowship program where Fellows learn to run local and state campaigns including grassroots organizing and legislative and administrative advocacy.

  • Safe Return Project

Safe Return Project executive director and youth leaders, based in West and East Contra CostaSafe Return Project (SRP) is formerly incarcerated and convicted people-led organizations' mission is to end mass incarceration, criminalization, and disenfranchisement of Black people and people of color. For 9 years SRP has carried out critical participatory action research, community organizing, and policy advocacy to build community power and foster healing.  A critical part of their work is centering people directly impacted by incarceration and criminalization in leadership through programs like the Richard Boyd Empowerment Pathway Fellowship that trains new organizers in communications, collective action, and personal transformation as well as healing.  SRP has played a pivotal in winning policies that build positive school climate, disrupts the school to prison pipeline, and ends employment discrimination in the West Contra Costa Unified School District. These policies that passed in 2019 would phase out school resource officers, develop a restorative justice model in the district, and provide fair employment opportunities for individuals seeking economic re-enfranchisement. (Photo Caption: Safe Return Project executive director and youth leaders, based in West and East Contra Costa)

  • RYSE Youth Center

Young organizers in front of Ryse Youth Center in RichmondRYSE Youth Center in Richmond creates safe spaces grounded in social justice for young people to love, learn, educate, heal, and transform lives and communities. RYSE combats the criminalization of young people of color through delivering community health, arts, organizing, education and justice programming anchored in the belief that young people have the lived expertise to identify, prioritize, and direct the activities necessary to thrive.  In 2018, RYSE led a coalition to win the creation of a Department of Children and Youth in the City of Richmond as well as the establishment of a Children and Youth Fund that will grant out $4.5M annually for children and youth services in Richmond and North Richmond.  SFF supported this campaign via a C4 grant in addition to our core operating C3 grant.  In 2017, RYSE was a critical leader in a campaign to improve school climate and disrupt the school to prison pipeline in West Contra Costa County, mentioned above. This includes serving on the Contra Costa County Racial Justice Oversight Body to research, identify and reduce racial disparities in the justice system and promoting justice reinvestment advocacy. (Photo Caption: Young organizers in front of Ryse Youth Center in Richmond)

  • Restore Oakland

Early mock up of Restore Oakland’s site in the Fruitvale neighborhood of Oakland.  Non profit partners are moving into the space now.Restore Oakland is a community advocacy and training center in the Fruitvale neighborhood in Oakland that will mobilize Bay Area community members to fight for affordable housing, livable wages, and dignified working conditions.  Communities will win resources for community reinvestment and restorative justice, not more prisons and punishment. Ella Baker Center and Restaurant Opportunities Center United created Restore Oakland and are working in partnership with Designing Justice + Designing Spaces, Community Works West, Causa Justa/Just Cause, Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth (RJOY), La Cocina, the Restaurant Opportunities Center of the Bay (ROC–The Bay) and many other local organizations to make this space a reality.  Since 2015, Restore Oakland has received $3 million in funding through Oakland Opportunity, a donor grantmaking initiative of the San Francisco Foundation. (Photo Caption: Early mock up of Restore Oakland’s site in the Fruitvale neighborhood of Oakland. Nonprofit partners are moving into the space now.)


For inquiries, please contact SFF’s People team staff Haewon Asfaw, Multi-Cultural Fellow, hasfaw@sff.org or Jidan Terry-Koon, Senior Program Officer, jtkoon@sff.org.

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