Relaunching… and Reimagining Starving the Beast
Starving the Beast (STB) is proudly relaunching as an independently operated CJI Circle fund rededicated to its core prison-diversion priorities, but with an ambitious, expanded program mission. CJI’s STB Circle is currently recruiting new donor members to be a part of the action. For donors seeking a better way to engage with truly inclusive philanthropy, this is a perfect time to get more involved with Starving the Beast. Contact CJI at [email protected] for more information about joining the Starving the Beast Circle.
Originally launched in partnership with the Open Society Foundations, STB complements CJI’s Leadership Circle with grassroots advocacy funding targeted specifically to reduce mass incarceration by “starving” the system of those it would prey upon. Going forward, STB will continue fulfilling its mission as an independent program of the Circle for Justice Innovations.
Now in its fifth year, STB’s program focus will be broadened to include community approaches to combatting over-policing, support for the underground economy, involvement with gangs/street organizations, mental health needs and community needs surrounding the exploding houselessness crisis. STB’s newly funded activity areas will also include medical and mental health care, emergency-response policing alternatives, trauma support and healing, and restorative responses to harm. Of course, STB will continue to fund viable alternatives to mass criminalization and mass incarceration as a response to drug use, sex work, subsistence-driven trade, and other aspects of the survival economy through community harm-reduction approaches and services.
STB grantees do incredible, transformational work that can help disrupt the cruel dynamic that takes family members and neighbors out of our communities. STB funding currently supports The Seed House (La Casa de Semilla), whose activism led to the passage of Kansas Senate Bill 367 and the subsequent closure of four youth prisons throughout the state. The Seed House has created a designated pool of funds to invest in alternatives and community-based programs, achieved through community mobilization efforts and the passage of legislation to shutter four youth prisons. Progeny is a partnership between young people and adults focused on reimagining the juvenile justice system and reinvesting in community-based alternatives. STB funding will continue their “Youth Justice Reimagined: From the Heartland to the Coast” campaign to reduce law enforcement contact with youth and engage and elevate young people at the local level to organize at the state level.
Aileen’s—a peer-run organizing space in Federal Way, WA, supporting people engaged in sex work—is using their STB grant to implement a community hotline and database to share identifying details about sex work customers who were violent or dangerous in any way so others can know whom to avoid and stay safe.
Last year, STB awarded $415,000 to 19 different grassroots advocacy organizations working across 17 U.S. states. Over its previous four years, Starving the Beast’s total impact has topped $920,000 since being launched in 2017.