Mission

The Race, Gender and Human Rights Fund promotes human rights as well as racial and gender justice

by challenging the criminal justice system and its use of mass incarceration in California.

“The mass incarceration of people of color is a modern day extension of slavery and the Jim Crow era. Just like we needed the abolition and the civil rights movements to combat slavery and Jim Crow, we now need a movement to combat the mass incarceration of people of color.”

~RGHR Member, Deborah Drysdale quoting author Michelle Alexander’s book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

Background

While the United States is home to only 4% of the world’s female population, our nation accounts for over 30% of the world’s incarcerated women. With 219K women imprisoned across state and federal prisons, local jails, immigrant detention centers, and youth facilities, the U.S. has among the highest rates of incarceration of women in the world. Since the 1980s, the rate of female incarceration has exploded by 800%. This is a result of more expansive law enforcement efforts, stiffer drug sentencing laws, and post-conviction barriers to reentry that uniquely affect women.

Women that enter the US criminal and legal system often come from backgrounds that include high rates of poverty, sexual and/or physical abuse, mental health and addiction issues, and trauma – all of which could be addressed outside of the criminal/legal system. Instead of fostering healing, providing treatment, and addressing women’s basic needs, incarceration perpetuates further trauma and causes disruption at both the individual and family levels, particularly for low income, communities of color. Moreover, we have a system that is highly racialized as Black women continue to be incarcerated at 2X the rate of white women. Additionally, almost 1 out of every 2 Black transgender women report having been incarcerated. Latinx and Native women are also disproportionately incarcerated across the US. Simply said, girls of color are significantly more likely to be incarcerated than white girls.

California leads the nation in locking up women and spending billions on incarceration rather than on what women really need to heal and thrive: services, treatment, health care, jobs, housing, support, etc. Of the thousands of women incarcerated in our state, two-thirds are imprisoned for nonviolent, non-serious offenses that are poverty, property-theft, or drug-related.

The collateral consequences of female incarceration are significant. More than 80% of incarcerated women serve as the primary caretakers of their children, which leads to the disruption and insecurity of families and is especially detrimental to children. For example, there is a direct correlation between the incarceration of women and the rates of children being cared for by other relatives or placed in the foster care system. And in some cases, women who have been incarcerated are at risk for losing their parental rights entirely.

Additionally, as members of communities that face extraordinarily high rates of poverty, violence, criminalization and incarceration, women of color are also disproportionately impacted by the criminal/legal system when family members are incarcerated. One in four women in the US have an incarcerated loved one, causing psychological distress and trauma along with financial and social hardships.

Despite mass incarceration’s devastating impact on women and families, the many organizations and communities that are working to change the criminal and legal system remain significantly under-funded by U.S. philanthropy. The Race, Gender, and Human Rights Fund is seeking to change that. We invite you to join us.

What We Do

Since its inception in 2002, the Race, Gender, and Human Rights Fund (RGHR Fund), comprised of a group of committed donors, has invested over $5 million to support criminal justice reform in California. The RGHR Fund focuses primarily on the system’s impact on women and families, prioritizes the leadership of formerly incarcerated people and strategically invests in efforts that build the criminal justice reform movement.

RGHR supports the criminal justice field through strategic grantmaking, convenings, donor education and partnerships to advance systemic change in California and foster greater collective impact. In 2017, the RGHR Fund established a new home at East Bay Community Foundation, where it remains deeply committed to working strategically with its grantees and partners to advance justice and foster collective impact.

The RGHR Fund co-founded the California Criminal Justice Funders Group, an active network and learning community of funders and donors working on criminal justice issues in our state.

RGHR is a visionary, philanthopric group, that is unafraid to invest in cutting-edge efforts that challenge the criminal justice system and reverse mass incarceration. RGHR supports strategic efforts seeking to:

  • Advance key policy reforms
  • Decrease the number of incarcerated people
  • Eliminate the disproportionate confinement of people of color
  • Challenge inhuman conditions of confinement
  • Elevate the leadership of women in the criminal justice movement
  • Foster justice reinvestment to meet the needs of communities
  • Support successful re-entry and reduce recidivism
  • Build leadership of formerly incarcerated people
  • Grow the criminal justice reform movement
  • Increase philanthropic awareness and giving on criminal justice issues

Make An Impact. Join Us Today!

Fund Member

Fund members meet regularly to strategize, engage in collective learning and make funding decisions. Meetings feature expert speakers and discussions about some of the most challenging issues of our time. Members participate in site visits with grant partners, visit detention facilities, and attend RGHR events.

Investor Member

Excited to learn more and contribute to this movement for change? Another way to support this strategic work is to invest in the fund. Become a donor of the RGHR Fund and events and receive semiannual updates.


Contact Us

To learn more about the fund or to explore membership opportunities, please contact the RGHR Fund’s Senior Philanthropic Advisor, Anuja Mendiratta, at amendiratta@eastbaycf.org.


Donor Engagement Series 2019-2020

A Just East Bay: Women And The Criminal Justice System

Hosted by the race, gender, and human rights fund and the east bay community foundation

The RGHR Fund and the East Bay Community Foundation’s special 3-part educational series offers donors thought-provoking, engaging opportunities to learn more about the criminal justice system’s impact on women and families. The series showcases the efforts of dedicated advocates and organizations working to advance a more just, humane world. Together, we will learn more about the destructive consequences of mass incarceration on women (increased poverty, homelessness, intergenerational trauma, and separated families) and explore philanthropic strategies to create systemic change so that women and families can thrive. We warmly invite you to join us for these special learning opportunities.

The issues facing system-involved women are complex. Did you know…

  • California leads the nation in locking up women and spending billions on incarceration rather than on what women and children truly need to succeed, heal, and thrive.
  • Of the thousands of women incarcerated, two-thirds are imprisoned for nonviolent, non-serious offenses that would be better addressed outside the criminal/legal system.
  • Because more than 80% of incarcerated women are the primary caretakers of children, women’s imprisonment leads to families experiencing emotional, financial, housing, and health insecurity, which is especially detrimental to children.
  • One in four women in the US has an incarcerated loved one, causing psychological distress and trauma along with financial and social hardships.

Session 1 – An Introduction: The Criminal Justice System’s Impact On Women, Girls, And Families (April 4, 2019)

Our series kicked off on April 4, 2019 with 50+ attendees participating in a thought-provoking evening with great food and terrific speakers who shared their wisdom and knowledge with EBCF’s community. We were fortunate to hear from Emily Harris (Ella Baker Center), Kim Carter (Time for Change Foundation), Dr. Monique Morris (National Black Women’s Justice Institute), and Deborah Drysdale and Anuja Mendiratta (RGHR Fund). The speakers encouraged the group to think beyond prisons and the punitive criminal legal system to what women and girls really need to heal, succeed, and thrive. The engaged room expressed a great deal of interest in the content shared, and came away with a clearer understanding about how the carceral system hurts women and girls. The RGHR Fund hopes that this will translate into increased donor investments and engagement in criminal justice reform issues. Read the event recap.

Session 2 – A Dynamic Day Of Field Visits To East Bay Organizations Focused On Women And Criminal Justice Reform (November 1, 2019)

Through an engaging day in the field, we will get to know some of the East Bay’s most tireless and visionary advocates for justice: Safe Return Project, California Coalition of Women Prisoners, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children and Time for Change Foundation. Together, we will learn about the issues facing currently and formerly incarcerated women, and meet with an amazing set of advocates and formerly incarcerated women who are working to advance justice by lifting up the voices, wisdom and leadership of those most impacted by the criminal justice system.

The event is by invitation only. If you are interested in attending or would like more information, please contact Natalie Torres-Rosas at ntrosas@eastbaycf.org. More information can be found here.

This event is co-sponsored by the Akonadi Foundation and the California Criminal Justice Funders Group.

Session 3 – Visit A Women’s Prison For A Powerful Learning Experience With Directly Impacted Women (Date TBD)

Join us in early 2020 for a powerful and unique opportunity to visit a women’s detention facility, speak with incarcerated women about their lives, learn the reality about conditions inside, and gain a wider understanding of the complex drivers of incarceration and the solutions needed to transform the system. We will explore what donors can do to support changes. Please be on the lookout for a save the date for this event!

Sponsors

The Race, Gender, and Human Rights (RGHR) Fund at the East Bay Community Foundation promotes racial and gender justice by challenging mass incarceration in California. Since its inception in 2002, the Fund has invested over $5 million to support criminal justice reform. The Fund focuses on women and families, prioritizes the leadership of formerly incarcerated people and strategically invests in efforts that build the criminal justice reform movement. To learn more about the RGHR Fund, please contact Senior Philanthropic Advisor, Anuja Mendiratta, at amendiratta@eastbaycf.org or visit ebcf.org/rghr.

The East Bay Community Foundation (EBCF) partners with donors, social movements, and the community to eliminate structural barriers, advance racial equity, and transform political, social, and economic outcomes for all who call the East Bay home.

2018-2020 Grant Partners

The RGHR Fund is proud to partner with and support the following organizations in their quest for justice and strategic reform in California.

Resources: Learn More About Women & Criminal Justice

Other Reports + Articles on Women and the Criminal Justice System:  www.prisonpolicy.org/research/women