Art for Justice Fund established with $100 million gift from philanthropist Agnes Gund

In partnership with the Ford Foundation, the national fund will support organizations addressing mass incarceration across the United States.

NEW YORK / 12 June 2017

The Ford Foundation announced today the creation of a national fund that will provide vital new resources to organizations working to address mass incarceration. Initial funding for the Art for Justice Fund will be provided by philanthropist Agnes Gund with a $100 million donation from the sale of artwork from her personal collection. Over the next five years, the Art for Justice Fund hopes to raise $100 million of additional private capital from art sales or other donations.

By using artwork to create the Art for Justice Fund, Ms. Gund seeks to show that art can be a powerful force for justice. Inspired by Ms. Gund and with an understanding of how necessary resources are at this critical moment, additional donors have committed gifts of artwork or contributions to the fund as Founding Donors, including Phil and Shelley Fox Aarons, John and Laura Arnold, Clarence Otis Jr. and Jacqueline Bradley, Kenneth and Kathryn Chenault, Tony and Robyn Coles, Pete Peterson and Joan Ganz Cooney, Glenn R. Fuhrman, Pamela Joyner and Alfred Giuffrida, A. C. Hudgins, Jo Carole Lauder, Marguerite Steed Hoffman and Tom Lentz, Daniel S. Loeb, Donald Marron, Raymond J. McGuire and Crystal McCrary, Brooke and Dan Neidich, Edith Cooper and Robert Taylor, Laurie M. Tisch, and Steve Tisch.

“The criminal justice system in its current state—particularly in its treatment of people of color—is unfair and unjust,” said Ms. Gund. “It is my hope that by supporting organizations working on criminal justice reform with proven track records, the Art for Justice Fund can inspire change and help pave the way for a better, safer future for our communities and the millions of people whose lives are devastated by mass incarceration.”

The United States has 5 percent of the world’s population yet incarcerates 25 percent of the world’s prisoners—more than any other nation. At every stage of the justice system, low-income people of color are most likely to be arrested and confined to jails and prisons. As the repercussions of the War on Drugs and other failed policies become more pronounced, there is broad consensus on the need to address the size, costs, and moral failures of mass incarceration.

A Powerful Partnership

Ms. Gund is partnering with the Ford Foundation and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, a nonprofit with a successful record of managing and advising on complex, multimillion-dollar philanthropic projects. RPA will manage donated funds and disburse grants, as well as create publications and programs. Ford is providing expertise on program design and covering the operating costs of the fund so that 100 percent of donated dollars go directly to programming and grants.

The Art for Justice Fund will make grants to organizations and leaders doing impactful and cutting-edge work to reform the criminal justice system. Grants will seek to safely reduce jail and prison populations across the country, while strengthening education and employment opportunities for people leaving the system. The fund will also support art-related programs that expose the injustice of mass incarceration and its impact on individuals and communities around the country.

“With the creation of this fund, we have an opportunity to make huge steps toward real justice in our criminal justice system,” said Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation. “Ms. Gund’s vision and generosity on this issue is extraordinary, and will not only make meaningful change possible, it will inspire others to take a stand.”  

The Art for Justice Fund will draw on the expertise of practitioners and advocates who are working closest to the challenges and can provide insight on the barriers and opportunities within the criminal justice reform field.

Nonprofit advocacy, education, and arts organizations focused on ending mass incarceration are likely candidates for grants. The first grants are expected to be announced at the end of 2017.

For more information about the Art for Justice Fund, including funding guidelines, visit www.artforjusticefund.org.

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The Ford Foundation

The Ford Foundation is an independent, nonprofit grant-making organization. For more than 80 years it has worked with courageous people on the frontlines of social change worldwide, guided by its mission to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. With headquarters in New York, the foundation has offices in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.