Transforming Criminal Justice

The United States spends about $182 billion each year to incarcerate more individuals than any other country in the world. As of 2024, there are 1.9 million people detained across federal, state, local, tribal, juvenile, and immigration carceral facilities, among other such confinement institutions. Through our Transforming Criminal Justice portfolio, The Navigation Fund supports efforts to end overcriminalization and mass incarceration, while promoting the true safety and wellbeing of communities.

Our Approach: Strategy Summary

Eliminating Past and Present Harm

System-Involvement Off Ramps

Holistic Legal Representation

Reentry Success and Recidivism Prevention

Creating a Preferred Future

Non-Carceral Solutions

Restorative Justice Accessibility

Narrative Shifting

Systemic Change Advocacy

Our comprehensive strategy has two overarching focus areas: (1) eliminating past and present harm caused by the criminal legal system and (2) creating a preferred future free from carceral system reliance. Guided by this framework, our current funding priorities include:

Eliminating Past and Present Harm in the Criminal Legal System

System-Involvement Off-Ramps: Preventing entry into the criminal legal system by decreasing interactions with police, courts, and carceral structures, through efforts like community violence intervention, mental health and substance use disorder treatment, and other innovative diversionary approaches.

Holistic Legal Representation: Protecting those currently trapped in the criminal legal system through efforts such as indigent defense with wraparound services, resentencing, wrongful conviction appeals, expungements, and other direct representation services that remove legal barriers for system-impacted people and their families.

Reentry Success and Recidivism Prevention: Ensuring the positive transition of formerly incarcerated individuals back into communities through direct services and other supports that allow them to thrive.

Creating a Preferred Future Free from Carceral System Reliance

Non-Carceral Solutions: Advancing the research, creation, and scaling of innovative replacements for existing components of the criminal legal system to foster more equitable and humane approaches to justice.

Restorative Justice Accessibility: Expanding access to restorative justice beyond minor offenses, with an emphasis on supporting the increase of community-based practitioners and the efficacy of confidentiality protections for participants.

Narrative Shifting: Countering outdated "tough on crime" rhetoric, informing the public about the harms and inefficacy of overcriminalization through storytelling, and educating communities about viable non-carceral approaches to community safety.

Systemic Change Advocacy: Addressing problematic laws contributing to mass incarceration and unequal treatment of system-involved individuals by bolstering grassroots organizing campaigns, legislative/policy advocacy, and impact litigation.

Our Scope: Understanding Our Funding Parameters

As we seek to empower communities that have been most impacted by over-policing and mass incarceration, The Navigation Fund (TNF) will not provide direct financial support to law enforcement agencies, correctional facilities, or other carceral systems. Additionally, while grants are open to religious organizations or initiatives housed within religious institutions, programming must be accessible to the broader community to be eligible for funding. Finally, as TNF is a 501(c)(3) charitable foundation, our capacity to fund 501(c)(4) organizations is subject to requisite lobbying limitations.

When evaluating grant applications, The Navigation Fund is especially interested in:

Organizations, projects, and campaigns led by system-impacted individuals

Strategies that involve a racial justice, gender justice, and/or socioeconomic equity lens

Approaches with a youth-justice nexus

Efforts utilizing movement building and grassroots organizing to shift power

Trauma-informed and community-based direct services programs

Bold ideas that seek to tackle existing problems through a new approach

Smaller organizations that are doing great work with limited resources

Our Plans: What to Expect in 2024

We are excited to launch our inaugural strategic grant-making cycle and anticipate extending all invitations to apply for our current grant cycle in July of 2024. All applicants will be notified of funding decisions by early December 2024.