We are excited to announce that the Center for Justice Innovation has received an $8 million grant from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott—the largest single gift in our history!
We are proud to share that the Center for Justice Innovation recently received an $8 million unrestricted donation from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott’s Yield Giving fund—the largest single gift in our history. This exciting news says so much about how far the Center has come since we opened our doors nearly 30 years ago—and even more about the important work that lies ahead.
The generous gift signals deep trust in the Center’s mission to fundamentally transform justice in NYC and around the world, grounded in the knowledge that communities are the experts on their own needs, and—with the right support and resources—can build justice and safety on their own terms. It comes to us at an exciting time: earlier this year, we changed our name to better reflect our belief that justice is a continuum that starts with strong communities. Not long before that, we separated from our long-time fiscal sponsor, the Fund for the City of New York, to become an independent non-profit. Both of those changes put us in a position to make the most of this opportunity, which is a vote of confidence in the Center’s approach of partnering with those working in the system and those in the community to serve as a bridge between the two.
Before giving to an organization, MacKenzie Scott’s team sets to work quietly and patiently making sure that it’s responsible and reliable, has a solid track record of meeting real needs, and is deeply in touch with the communities that it serves. This behind-the-scenes work lays the groundwork for a model of philanthropy based in trust: the foundation makes only unrestricted gifts, leaving it to recipients to use their grants how they see fit.
It’s an approach that resonates with our own. Before we pilot an initiative or launch a new program, we gather data and insights on what the needs are, what has and hasn’t worked in the past, and what the people and communities directly affected by an issue have to say. And we place our trust in the people who are closest to the problem at hand.
The COVID-19 pandemic served as a stark reminder that people’s needs—especially the needs of those in underserved communities—can change. We intend to use this grant, in part, to build up our resilience and strengthen our infrastructure, making us better able to adapt to those changes and be wherever we’re needed the most—whether that’s in court connecting people to job opportunities or on the streets making sure folks have warm food and clothing. We also plan to set up an “Innovation Fund” to support new ideas and initiatives from our staff working on the ground.
Without the generosity and support of countless others who are committed to a more equitable, humane vision of justice, our work to build strong, healthy, safe communities here in New York and all around the country would not be possible. As we celebrate this milestone in the Center’s history, we look forward to all the ways this gift will strengthen the work we do hand in hand with our partners, supporters, and the communities we serve.