CJI’s Strategic Opportunities Support (SOS) Rapid Response Circle is a funding mechanism that issues micro-grants of up to $5,000 to eligible organizations addressing critically urgent and strategic calls to action and meeting emergency community needs. SOS enables organizations to take advantage of unanticipated opportunities for organizing and advocacy that may be otherwise prohibitive due to small funding gaps. The SOS application process is kept simple and requires only a few brief answers regarding need, nonprofit status, and project budget. Currently, active CJI grantees need only submit a project budget and narrative to apply.
The deleterious nature of the past presidential administration and the losses brought on by the pandemic have combined to take an outsized toll on our most vulnerable communities, especially among those in prison, the formerly incarcerated, and others directly impacted by the U.S. criminal legal system. In response, SOS embraces voter expansion and voter re-enfranchisement efforts and movement- and leadership-development opportunities for formerly incarcerated people to rebuild a truly caring society that prioritizes people and prepares our communities for the voter suppression backlash currently underway and the perpetuation of anti-Blackness, anti-Asian hate, and unrelenting police brutality.
SOS supports responses to cases of extreme state violence, including ICE raids, organizing against incidents of white supremacist/fascist aggression, and legislation or government policies that expand the criminalization and/or incarceration of marginalized groups, as well as those that aim to limit constitutionally protected activities. A big part of SOS has been funding appropriate and just pandemic responses such as compassionate release and responding to disasters that impact an organization’s ability to carry out their criminal justice work and/or that pose a direct threat to incarcerated people.
CJI’s SOS Rapid Response Circle is proud to have granted a total of $125,000 in 2021 to a cohort of 25 grassroots organizations working to upend the systems of mass incarceration and hostile, discriminatory policing practices that continue to capture and oppress our people. This year’s grantees’ work spans 16 states and covers a variety of target issues, including de-carceration efforts aimed at freeing people from prisons and immigration detention centers, healing work and transformative justice alternatives to the criminal legal system, sex worker advocacy, mutual aid related to the lingering effects of the pandemic, the restoration and protection of voting rights, and more.