Propel Justice


Vera Institute of Justice


Propel Justice provides strategic support for organizations committed to ending mass incarceration and reforming the criminal justice system. We support both advocates generating public and political pressure and innovators with practical solutions for how the criminal justice system can operate differently right now. We believe that we must take steps to alleviate suffering while working towards the profound change necessary to end mass incarceration.

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A Human Rights Issue of Our Time

The United States leads the world in mass incarceration with 2.2 million people behind bars and nearly seven million people incarcerated, on probation, or on parole. In the last 40 years, the US criminal justice system has increased the number of people in jail by 500% – we now have 5% of the world’s population and nearly 25% of its prisoners. Today, 80% of people incarcerated in prisons across America are from low-income communities and disproportionately from communities of color. That’s millions of men and women across the country separated from their families, jobs, and communities, with enormous inefficiencies in deployment of public dollars and, far more importantly, untold human suffering.  

To advance efforts to end mass incarceration and achieve a more just and effective criminal justice system, Propel Justice prioritizes support for organizations that:

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build the leadership and political power of people affected by the system 

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strengthen political and public will to take action to end mass incarceration

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drive efforts to test and implement practical solutions that reform how the criminal justice system operates right now


Engaged Support

Propel Justice organizations are strategic, innovative, and relentless in their efforts to end mass incarceration and transform the criminal justice system. We support both advocates and system reformers and are guided by these key principles:

  • Act with urgency and adapt.  While we recognize that complex forces created the current criminal justice system over many years, we believe that this issue requires action now and that those directly affected by the system are essential to the solution.  As funders, we expect those on the front lines to be strategic as they hone their approaches, as well as entrepreneurial and creative in their solutions. To maximize flexibility, the fund, whenever possible, provides general operating support and can offer 501c3, 501c4, 527, and investment funding to organizations.

  • Work towards the big picture.  With limited resources and enormous systemic obstacles, groups – those working both inside and outside the system – will need to be dogged in their efforts to collaborate: sharing data, resources, and credit.  We support leaders who are ambitious in their scope yet operate with humility and keep the larger goals of ending mass incarceration and achieving a more just and humane system at the forefront.

  • Invest beyond the dollars. While direct funding is critical, organizations and leaders will need to navigate unforeseen challenges, mobilize donors, and access new networks and resources. As partners, we listen, help problem-solve, and share networks and other resources when needed.


Who We Support