Requests for Proposals: In Our Backyards and SAFE Community Grants
Vera Institute of Justice

To drive and sustain reform beyond the biggest cities, our team is awarding grants to community-based and/or statewide organizations committed to reducing incarceration rates in small cities and rural communities.

Applicants are eligible to apply for up to $20,000 to support work over an eight-month period (June 2020 – February 2021). Through a competitive selection process, Vera will fund up to 10 organizations. The funding is intended to sustain existing work in smaller cities and rural counties, to expand work that is rooted in large cities or their suburbs to reach smaller communities, or the support collaboration across the urban-rural spectrum.

IOB Community Grants are designed to support work to:

1. Make data and knowledge about incarceration more widely available;
2. Change the public narrative about incarceration;
3. Build public and governmental will to reverse mass incarceration locally and statewide.

The funds can be used to sustain existing work or projects in small cities or rural communities, support the launch of new efforts or initiatives, expand work in a particular region, or foster partnerships and collaboration across the urban-rural spectrum. We encourage proposals focused on preventing jail construction by emphasizing decarceration and proposals that include naming and addressing racial disparities and rising rates of women’s incarceration.

Proposals must be submitted by April 6 (11:59 pm PST) via Submittable.

Vera will hold an optional conference call for interested applicants on Monday, March 16th from 2pm-3:30pm EST to share more information about Vera’s In Our Backyards campaign, discuss the solicitation and answer questions. To RSVP and receive dial-in information, email

Applicants are strongly encouraged to send a brief email expressing their intent to apply by March 20, 2020 with the name of their organization, county/state, and contact information. If you are not a 501(c)3 organization and therefore require a fiscal sponsor, please note whether or not you have identified your sponsor. Letters of intent can be sent to

To support universal representation, Vera’s SAFE Network is seeking proposals from grassroots organizations and advocates based in and/or serving SAFE network jurisdictions.

SAFE Network Community Partnership Grants are designed to support work to:

1. Build capacity for a powerful grassroots network in support of universal representation led and informed by communities directly impacted by immigration policies;
2. Change the public narrative and elevate public awareness around detention, access to counsel, and universal representation;
3. Foster collaborations and broad coalitions around universal representation;
4. Build public and governmental will to advance and expand universal representation;
5. Elevate the voices of those most impacted so that the lived experiences of immigrant families contribute directly to the movement for universal representation;
6. Use a racial equity lens in organizing and advocating for universal representation for immigrants.

SAFE Network Jurisdictions include: Atlanta, Georgia • Austin, Texas • Baltimore, Maryland • Chicago, Illinois • Columbus, Ohio • Dallas, Texas • Dane County, Wisconsin • Denver, Colorado • Long Beach, California • New Haven, Connecticut • Oakland/Alameda County, California • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania • Prince George’s County, Maryland • Ramsey County/St. Paul, Minnesota • Sacramento, California • San Antonio, Texas • San Francisco, California • Santa Ana, California

Proposals must be submitted by March 25 (11:55 pm PST) via Submit. Applications can be submitted in your preferred language. 

Vera will hold optional conference calls for interested applicants on Thursday March 5 from 3:30pm-4:30pm EST in English and Friday March 6 from 2:30pm-3:30pm EST in Spanish. To RSVP, fill out this form.

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