2014 Phoebus Criminal Justice Initiative Grantees

Phoebus Criminal Justice Initiative

The Phoebus Criminal Justice Initiative is a donor-advised fund that gives grants to organizations that address the root causes of the crises within our criminal justice system. Learn more about eligibility criteria here.

2014 Grantees

Books Through Bars distributes books and other publications to prisoners. They are establishing book clubs, volunteer forums, and partnerships with halfway houses to encourage collaboration across prison walls.

Books Through Bars








EXIT-US holds civic engagement and voter education forums for returning citizens, helping them challenge the unfair political and punitive systems that oppress them.

Heart to Heart: Comienzos East conducts workshops that help inmates develop spiritual, nonviolent, and community-based leadership skills through meditation and reflective discussion.

HtH Comienzos East





Hearts on a Wire is a transgender and gender-variant prison justice collective. Their Homecoming Project helps transgender returning citizens re-enter society as comfortable, accurate versions of themselves.

The Human Rights Coalition documents and exposes cases of torture, abuse, and inhumane conditions in Pennsylvania prisons. They are canvassing to talk directly with people in the community about prison abuse and reform.

Mothers in Charge brings together victims, families, and perpetrators of violent crime to break cycles of violence and criminalization. The group held their third national conference in May, convening anti-violence activists from around the country.

Mothers in Charge






New Sanctuary Movement of Philadelphia organizes faith communities in Philadelphia to push for fair immigration reform. Having persuaded Mayor Nutter to end ICE holds in the city, the group is holding the city accountable for its promise while advocating for national reform.

New Sanctuary Mvt







The Pennsylvania Innocence Project litigates on behalf of those wrongfully convicted of serious crimes. They provide services to prisoners and their families while conducting research and legal advocacy to support systemic judicial reform.

Pennsylvania Innocence Project






Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity (PLSE) challenges legal and employment policies that keep formerly convicted people from earning an income. PLSE are developing an online platform to inform people of their rights and help them combat unjust policies.

Prison Radio gives a voice to those who are incarcerated, allowing them to expose prison conditions firsthand. They are identifying incarcerated correspondents in Pennsylvania to produce a series of several dozen broadcast essays.

Reconstruction Inc. convenes returning citizens, youth, and the families of incarcerated people to incubate a large-scale movement to end mass incarceration. Reconstruction is developing several new programs focused on grant writing, organizational development, and youth leadership.

Reunification Transportation Services provides bus trips to prison facilities in rural Pennsylvania so that Philadelphia residents can visit incarcerated relatives. They are mobilizing family members to become advocates for prison reform.

Why Not Prosper Inc. empowers women ex-offenders to reenter society and move toward positions of power and leadership. It offers pre-release mentoring and live-in residence at the Why Not Prosper House.

Witness to Innocence is an organization led by death row exonerees that advocates for an end to capital punishment. They are conducting outreach in Philadelphia’s low-income black and Latino neighborhoods to inform residents about race and class biases in death penalty sentencing.

X-Offenders for Community Empowerment organizes formerly convicted people to reduce recidivism, prevent violent crime, and help returning citizens access essential services. Their “Pardon Me” clinics teach people how to get convictions cleared from their permanent records.

The Youth Art and Self-empowerment Project (YASP) holds art and poetry workshops for youth incarcerated in adult jails. YASP is also working to repeal Pennsylvania Act 33, which allows youth to be charged as adults.







Youth United for Change (YUC) organizes Philadelphia students to end the school-to-prison pipeline. They are pressuring public officials to implement a variety of improvements, from accelerated school oversight to cafeteria nutrition programs.

Youth United for Change