The Phoebus Criminal Justice Initiative is a fund that gives grants to organizations that address the root causes of the crises within our criminal justice system. You can learn more about eligibility criteria here.
Address This!, a project of Books Through Bars, provides innovative, radical educational courses via correspondence to individuals currently incarcerated throughout Pennsylvania. | Website | Facebook | Twitter
Ardella’s House addresses pressing issues for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women and aims to improve women’s lives while also changing the systems that create barriers. | Website | Facebook | Twitter
The Elevation Project is a reentry program that works to discover and meet the unique needs of people returning to society from a lengthy prison sentence through therapeutic groups, job readiness training, and job placement. | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
Hearts on a Wire Collective is a group of trans and gender-variant people and allies working in solidarity with them both inside and outside of prisons that publishes quarterly zines and provides needs-responsive support. | Website | Facebook
Human Rights Coalition supports families in coping with the stress and hardships created by having a loved one incarcerated, and works to transform the prison system to a model of rehabilitation and successful reintegration to society. | Website | Facebook | Twitter
I’m FREE (Females Reentering Empowering Each Other) is a group of formerly incarcerated women supporting each other in reconnecting with society and their families, revitalizing their sense of purpose, and freeing themselves from an institutionalized way of living. | Website | Facebook | Twitter
Pennsylvania Prison Society, a social justice organization advocating on behalf of prisoners, their families, and formerly incarcerated people, is starting a peer support group for returning citizens to promote collective activism. | Website | Facebook | Twitter
POWER (Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower and Rebuild) is a coalition of people of faith committed to bringing about justice by pressing for the needs and priorities of all Philadelphians to be reflected in the systems and policies that shape the city. | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Youtube
Reentry Think Tank connects returning citizens with artists, activists, and legislative experts to make media campaigns that destroy stereotypes about returning citizens, connect returning citizens with organizations and individuals in power across the city, and work across the city to advocate for social, educational, and political platforms that will help those in reentry succeed in their communities. | Website
Sisters Returning Home seeks to protect, defend, and amplify the uncensored voices of prisoners in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania by recording and distributing essays and interviews with incarcerated people. | Website | Facebook | Twitter
Urban Creators is a grassroots organization in North Philadelphia that empowers neighborhoods to transform neglected landscapes into dynamic, safe spaces that foster connectivity, self-sufficiency, and innovation. | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
Youth Art & Self-empowerment Project holds art and poetry workshops for young people who are incarcerated in adult jails and raises awareness about the school-to-prison pipeline while building a youth movement to resist and dismantle it. | Website | Facebook | Twitter
Youth Sentencing & Reentry Project works to transform the experiences of children prosecuted in the adult criminal justice system and aims to eliminate the practice of sentencing children as adults. | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | LinkedIn
1Love Movement is a community network of grassroots organizers that work together to unite Southeast Asian communities to organize for power, so families can protect their human rights and live with dignity. They are currently launching the #EndDisplacement campaign to uplift the issue of criminal deportation in the US and propose a solution that calls attention to US repatriation agreements and possible revisions that can protect people with criminal convictions from deportation. | Website | Facebook
Ardella’s House is a transitional program established to address pressing issues of incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women. They take a dual approach to the issues facing criminal justice-involved women, combining a commitment to changing the circumstances of women’s lives one-by-one with a commitment to changing the systems that create barriers for women. | Facebook
Books Through Bars distributes books and other publications to prisoners. Their Address This! project aims to provide innovative, radical, educational courses via correspondence to individuals currently incarcerated throughout Pennsylvania. The program prioritizes the participation of those being held in solitary confinement and/or maximum security facilities who are otherwise frequently excluded from educational programming. | Website | Facebook | Twitter
The Elevation Project is a re-entry program that works to discover and meet the unique needs of people returning to society from a lengthy prison sentence through therapeutic groups, job readiness training, and job placement. The Elevation Project also advocates for laws and programs that benefit returning citizens in the community. | Website
Hearts on a Wire Collective is a group of trans and gender variant people and those working in solidarity with them both inside and outside of prisons. They publish quarterly ‘zines and provide needs-responsive support, such as giving grants to individuals re-entering Philadelphia from prison, to the T/GV community. | Website | Facebook
MOVE emerged in the early 1970s as a revolutionary group in Philadelphia. Their main objective is respect for all beings through acknowledging the worth and importance of all living beings. On May 13, 1985 the MOVE house was bombed by the city of Philadelphia, killing 11 people including 5 children. In 2016, MOVE is republishing their book 25 Years on the MOVE and opening a space to give youth home renovation skills while also teaching them about social justice issues. | Website | Facebook
Pennsylvania Innocence Project is a non-profit law firm working to exonerate the convicted innocent and prevent innocent people from being convicted. Through their Exoneree Compensation Campaign they will work to have Pennsylvania adopt a law ensuring the convicted innocent can successfully re-enter society and receive compensation for the years they and their families suffered. | Website | Facebook | Twitter
Pennsylvania Prison Society is a social justice organization advocating on behalf of prisoners, their families, and formerly incarcerated individuals. They are starting a peer support group for returning citizens. The group will offer a forum for discussion and the exchange of information, promote collective activism focused on criminal justice issues, and provide action steps to effectively facilitate systemic change. | Website | Facebook | Twitter
Prison Radio seeks to protect, defend, and amplify the uncensored voices of prisoners in Philadelphia and across PA. Each year, they record and distribute over 200 essays and interviews with over two-dozen inmates. They aim to counter PA’s legislative attacks by recording one prisoner from each of the 28 correctional facilities. | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Youtube
Sisters Returning Home advocates for social justice on behalf of families, inmates, and loved-ones who are incarcerated. They will implement a Family Advisory Board to work on issues between families and prison officials, host a Women’s Reentry Summit, and organize a Legislation Day at the state capitol to discuss policies around criminal justice. | Website | Facebook
Urban Creators is a grass-roots organization that inspires inner-city neighborhoods to transform neglected landscapes into dynamic safe-spaces that foster connectivity, self-sufficiency, and innovation. Their ReGeneration program is a neighborhood-based approach to reducing youth violence, mass incarceration, and recidivism among young African American youth. By empowering at-risk and formerly incarcerated youth as pioneers in the revitalization of their own communities, Urban Creators hopes to improve public safety & civic engagement, build equity and resiliency at the grassroots level, and empower a generation of young leaders, innovators, and urban creators. | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
Veterans Legal Foundation helps disabled and homeless veterans with housing, health benefits, compensation, military discharges, and records, and advocates for legislation that will give incarcerated veterans a second chance to be given treatment instead of harsh punishments for their past offenses. Their Pennsylvania Veterans Justice Project is a coalition of diverse organizations advocating for expansion of legal and social services and treatment intervention for military veterans incarcerated in Pennsylvania. | Website
Why Not Prosper is a faith-based grassroots organization founded by a formerly incarcerated woman, Rev. Michelle Simmons. Why Not Prosper’s services help formerly incarcerated women to find employment and housing, re-unite with their children, and not return to prison. Their Woman’s Advocacy Program for formerly incarcerated women consists of education, advocacy, and an internship at Riverside Correctional Facility. The goals of the program are to teach women how to be advocates, educate advocates on the ASFA law, and make a difference in the family reunification process. | Website
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, which are being spread to new areas each year, teach people how to get convictions cleared from their permanent records. They are launching a public education campaign to organize support for Ban-the-Box legislation and amendments, and to inform community residents of their rights under Ban-the-Box and the EEOC. | Facebook | Twitter
Youth Art & Self-empowerment Project (YASP) holds art and poetry workshops for youth incarcerated in adult jails. YASP is raising awareness about the school-to-prison pipeline and building a youth movement to resist and dismantle it. They are working to repeal Pennsylvania Act 33, which allows youth to be charged as adults. | Website | Facebook | Twitter
Youth Sentencing & Reentry Project (YSRP) works to transform the experiences of children prosecuted in the adult criminal justice system. The ultimate goal of YSRP is to eliminate the practice of sentencing children as adults. Their Family Advocacy Movement (FAM) program creates peer support groups for family members of youth who are incarcerated or facing incarceration in the adult criminal justice system. FAM takes a participant-led, trauma-informed approach to building community among women with incarcerated loved ones. FAM members will also engage in advocacy work for policy change on behalf of young people in the justice system in order to dismantle the practice of charging children as adults. | Website | Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn
2015 Phoebus Criminal Justice Initiative Grantees
Books Through Bars distributes books and other publications to prisoners. Their Address This! correspondence courses provide an outlet for stimulating discussion among inmates in solitary confinement or maximum security prisons who are often left out of educational programming.
Human Rights Coalition documents and exposes cases of torture, abuse, and inhumane conditions in Pennsylvania prisons. HRC canvasses neighborhoods to talk directly with people in the community about prison abuse and reform.
JUNTOS is a Latino immigrant-led organization in Philadelphia fighting for human rights as workers, parents, youth, and immigrants. JUNTOS is currently pushing for the closure of Berks Family Detention Center.
Lifers Incorporated is producing a DVD and education packet that will articulate the societal benefits associated with the conditional release of prisoners serving life sentences.
Pennsylvania Coalition for the Fair Sentencing of Youth was formed by inmates and their families, attorneys, community groups, faith leaders, and academics in order to organize to end life without parole sentences for juvenile offenders, and to allow for the resentencing of those already serving such terms.
Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity (PLSE) uses individual representation, strategic litigation, community education, research, and legislative advocacy to allow people with criminal records to better access employment and social services.
Prison Radio gives a voice to those who are incarcerated, allowing them to expose prison conditions firsthand. Each year, they record and distribute more than 200 essays and interviews with over two dozen inmates.
Sisters Returning Home brings prisoners and their loved ones together and educates the community about the impact of the criminal justice system on families and communities. They also work to change unjust policies in the criminal legal system.
Veterans Legal Foundation is a coalition of diverse organizations advocating for the expansion of legal and social services for military veterans incarcerated in Pennsylvania.
Why Not Prosper is a faith-based grassroots organization founded by a formerly incarcerated woman. Why Not Prosper’s services help formerly incarcerated women find employment and housing, reunite with their children, and not return to prison.
X-Offenders for Community Empowerment organizes formerly convicted people to reduce recidivism, prevent violent crime, and access essential services. Their Pardon Me clinics teach people how to get convictions cleared from their permanent records.
Youth Art & 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 Sentencing & Reentry Project (YSRP) works to transform the experiences of kids prosecuted in the adult criminal justice system. Their ultimate goal is to eliminate the practice of sentencing children as adults.
Youth United for Change (YUC) organizes Philadelphia students to end the school-to-prison pipeline. They train active, committed YUC members on community organizing and anti-oppression skills.
2014 Phoebus Criminal Justice Initiative 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
2013 Phoebus Criminal Justice Initiative Grantees
Books Through Bars supplies books to hundreds of incarcerated individuals in Philadelphia and throughout Pennsylvania who have limited access to reading materials. They also educate the public about the negative effects of mass incarceration on communities through a large drop-in volunteer program and youth service-learning opportunities.
combines progressive advocacy, collective leadership, and support-system development to empower returning citizens and their families to dismantle the prison plantation industry.
The Goldring Reentry Initiative aims to reduce recidivism in Philadelphia. Participating social work students at the University of Pennsylvania are trained to design individualized discharge plans for people who are transitioning out of prison, linking them to the health, employment, housing, and education services necessary for their successful reentry.
Human Rights Coalition organizes ex-prisoners, family members of the incarcerated, and their allies to replace the prison system with restorative justice practices and rehabilitative programs. The coalition is running a campaign to end solitary confinement in Pennsylvania.
New Sanctuary Movement of Philadelphia campaigns to protect the rights of immigrants. Its members are staging a direct-action campaign to pressure Mayor Nutter to end collaboration between the Philadelphia Police Department and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Pennsylvania Innocence Project litigates cases to exonerate the falsely accused. Its members also work with law enforcement agencies to address the systemic roots of wrongful conviction.
Reunification Transportation Services brings the incarcerated and their family members together by providing bus and van services to remote correctional facilities in Pennsylvania. These families advocate for fair treatment of incarcerated people in prisons.
Why Not Prosper 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 organizes exonerated death row survivors to campaign for a moratorium on death penalty prosecutions. The organization also provides peer support for exonerees. X-Offenders for Community Empowerment is a group of formerly incarcerated activists. After successfully passing the Ban the Box bill to eliminate the section of job applications requesting criminal histories, they are working to ensure its enforcement by holding business owners
accountable to the legislation.
The Youth Art & Self-empowerment Project (YASP) is a youth-led organization fighting to repeal legislation that allows Pennsylvania courts to try youth as adults. YASP empowers its youth leaders through direct action campaigns, as well as art, poetry, and music workshops.
2010 Phoebus Criminal Justice Initiative Grantees
Books through Bars sends quality reading material to prisoners and encourages creative dialogue on the criminal justice system. This year they will provide thousands of free books to incarcerated people in order to encourage a positive contribution to their communities upon return.
Hearts on a Wire organizes incarcerated transgender people to effect change and make the public aware of the discrimination they face in Pennsylvania prisons. They will release a report this year called “Glitter is not Allowed: Experiences of Trans and Gender Variant People in Pennsylvania’s Prison Systems.”
Human Rights Coalition is working to replace the prison system with a system of accountability in communities. They are focused this year on reporting human rights abuses in PA prisons, ending the use of solitary confinement and helping incarcerated people organize for change.
Inside Out Prison Exchange serves as an engine for social change by bringing college students together with incarcerated men and women to study as peers in a seminar behind prison walls. They will offer dozens of trainings this year.
Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation opposes the death penalty and empowers the families of murder victims to explain the negative impact capital punishment has on them and the executed.
National Lawyers Guild is a professional association for lawyers, law students, paralegals, and others. They will use their grant to train lawyers to use their pro bono hours to help expunge arrest records and secure pardons for formerly incarcerated people.
Pennsylvanians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty mobilizes a powerful network of individuals and direct action groups to put a stop to executions in the state. They plan to lobby for a moratorium on the death penalty this year and provide community education opportunities throughout the state.
Pennsylvania Innocence Project works to secure exoneration and restoration to society for persons who have been wrongly convicted. They will use their grant to support trainings for pro bono lawyers and identify systemic causes of wrongful convictions.
Prison Health News is a newsletter designed by and for incarcerated people with HIV, hepatitis C, and other health issues in prisons and jails. They will distribute the newsletter throughout the state’s prisons.
Reunification Transportation Services brings families and their incarcerated loved ones together. RTS builds the capacity of its constituents to advocate in their communities on issues of social justice within the prison system.
Youth, Art & Self-empowerment Project is building a youth-led movement to end the practice of automatically trying and incarcerating young people as adults. Their focus in the coming year will be the repeal of Act 33, which allows youth to be tried as adults.
Witness to Innocence is the first national organization to highlight the issue of wrongful imprisonment and inequities in the justice system by elevating the stories of exonerated ex-death row prisoners and their family members.