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Strategic Opportunities Support (SOS) Application Guidelines

The Strategic Opportunities Support Fund (SOS Fund) is a rapid response funding mechanism that issues micro-grants (up to $5,000) to organizations addressing crises with strategic organizing and advocacy to meet emergency needs in their communities. The CJI SOS Fund also enables organizations to take advantage of unanticipated opportunities for organizing and advocacy that may be otherwise prohibitive due to a small funding gap. Qualifying organizations have organizational budgets under $750,000 and are led by and serve formerly incarcerated people and the families of those directly impacted by excessive policing, the criminal legal and immigration systems


Over the last year, we have found ourselves and the community organizations we rely on pushed past the limits time and again as we struggled to meet our constituents’ needs and advance this movement for justice and healing. The terrors 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 people in prison, the formerly incarcerated, and those directly impacted by the U.S. criminal legal and immigration systems.

We carry forward the lessons we learned in 2020 as we gather strength and prepare ourselves for the burgeoning voter suppression backlash currently underway, the perpetuation of anti-Blackness, anti-Asian hate, state violence, and unrelenting police brutality. In response, we embrace 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.

The Strategic Opportunities Support Fund supports:

  • Responses to cases of extreme state violence (the killing of a community member by police or other law enforcement, ICE raids, etc.)
  • Organizing against incidents of white supremacist/fascist aggression
  • New legislation or government policies that aim to expand the criminalization and/or incarceration of marginalized groups, as well as those which aim to limit constitutionally protected activities
  • Responses to disasters that impact an organization’s ability to carry out their criminal justice work and/or which pose a direct threat to incarcerated people and those in detention
  • Advocacy and organizing for an appropriate and just response to COVID-19 (funding is not offered for PPE supplies)
  • Inclusion and/or participation of underrepresented communities or formerly incarcerated people and directly impacted families in movement convenings
  • Healing justice work

We do not fund projects of the kind listed below:

  • Annual fundraising drives
  • Projects that are undertaken by individuals
  • Capital costs, including equipment or real estate purchases or renovations
  • Isolated organizations not working with others
  • Healing work that is not connected to organizing or the criminal justice movement
  • Direct services, such as housing, provision of clothes, shelter, food, etc., or standalone legal services


Our simple application requires a few brief answers regarding the need, verification of 501c3 status or fiscal sponsorship, and project and organizational budgets. If you are a current CJI grantee, only a project budget and narrative are required.

Compelling applications will:

  • Demonstrate movement-building or collaborative organizing
  • Show strategic analysis of the emergency or opportunity
  • Clearly articulate the purpose of the grant request

NOTE: If you experience any technical difficulties, please contact support@submittable.com. You may also contact a CJI staff person by email at zacharyh@cjifund.org or by phone at 646-849-9172.

We use Submittable to accept and review our submissions.