1. Seek local funding 2. Look for grants from the U.S. Department of Justice 3. Seek out other federal funding sources 4. Build partnerships 5. Get noticed
Take a close look at any institution—banks, businesses, government agencies, foundations—that has a stake in the success of your neighborhood or your project. It is usually easier to make a pitch to someone with a vested interest. The most important thing is to find someone—anyone—to take that initial leap to invest in your ideas. Once you get the ball rolling, other funding is sure to follow. For example, a grant from a community foundation can fund a planner who can then seek additional support for the project. Local funding, even if modest, demonstrates that there is local commitment to the project—a feature many national and federal funders look for.
The Department of Justice provides funding to community justice initiatives through the divisions of the Office of Justice Programs, including the Bureau of Justice Assistance, and the Community Capacity Development Office. For example, BJA in the past has had solicitations for community justice, community courts and community prosecution initiatives. On a regular basis, review their web sites, program plans and press releases. A significant portion of federal money is now distributed to the states through block grants. The Bureau of Justice Assistance, for example, provides criminal justice support primarily through two avenues, the Edward Byrne Memorial State Grants and the Local Law Enforcement Block Grants Program. Find out what state agencies are responsible for the distribution of these funds so you can apply for them.
Community justice initiatives often have goals that may be of interest to funders outside criminal justice. These may include youth development, job training, violence prevention, or economic development. At the federal level consider these strategies:
Explore filing joint funding applications with other programs or agencies. There’s often strength in numbers. Many funders look for creative collaborations as a way of leveraging resources and getting the biggest bang for the buck. In addition, sometimes your partners will have access to funding sources that you won’t.
At the end of the day, the most successful fund-raising strategy is to run a high-quality program. Funders, whether they’re local or national, respond to results. Unfortunately, a successful program doesn’t always speak for itself. Often it is necessary to aggressively get the word out. The best advice here is this: don’t be shy. Send out newsletters and press clips to foundations and elected officials. Launch your own web site. Make every possible effort to communicate with the public—you never know when a letter or a press release will catch a funder’s attention.
1. Seek local funding
2. Look for grants from the U.S. Department of Justice
3. Seek out other federal funding sources
4. Build partnerships
5. Get noticed