The NoVo Foundation has awarded a $2.53 million grant to the Columbia School of Social Work to support the Women Transcending initiative, a project of the Center for Justice at Columbia University. The funding for “bold and transformative social justice work” will be used to organize and support a national network of women impacted by mass incarceration.

“It means so much that the NoVo Foundation has made such a significant commitment to Women Transcending,” said Kathy Boudin, an Associate Research Scientist at CSSW as well as Co-Director and Co-Founder of the Center for Justice. “This grant is a powerful testament that not only believes in our leadership, but in the extraordinary communities we work with.”

Women Transcending utilizes the resources of Columbia to support women who are affected by incarceration as they organize for justice system reform. The initiative empowers impacted women and their communities to lead and implement strategies that confront the criminalization of women, support women returning home from prison, and ultimately change the structure of the justice system in the United States. The project was one of 19 recipients selected from over 1,000 applicants for the NoVo Foundation’s Radical Hope Fund grant.

With their grant, the Women Transcending team will launch an institute that provides training for organizing and policy work, document and share stories of successful organizing by women for institutional transformation, and expand public programming. One such program will be the annual Beyond the Bars Conference, a criminal justice reform symposium organized by the Center for Justice, which in 2019 will highlight women directly impacted by mass incarceration.

“The Center for Justice is changing the conversation around criminal justice reform by centering the voices of those who have been marginalized,” said Irwin Garfinkel, Interim Dean of the Columbia School of Social Work. “It is thrilling to see their visionary work recognized with such robust support.”

The Center for Justice at Columbia University, a consortium founded at the Columbia School of Social Work and led by Co-Directors Geraldine Downey and Kathy Boudin, seeks to end the nation’s reliance on incarceration and advance alternative approaches to safety and justice through education, research, and policy. Its annual Beyond the Bars conference, organized in collaboration with faculty and students at the Columbia School of Social Work, brings together students, academics, activists, policymakers, advocates, and stakeholders to organize for criminal justice reform and the end of mass incarceration.

The NoVo Foundation, founded in 2006 by Jennifer and Peter Buffett, is one of the largest private foundations in the world to support social justice initiatives focused on girls and women. The full list of 2018 Radical Hope Fund grant recipients is available here.

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