Skip to main content

Grants Support Innovative Criminal Justice Programs

Grantees are the Re-entry Clinic at Mitchell Hamline Law School and SEEN, a project of We Are All Criminals

The Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation today announced the awarding of two grants to community organizations whose work focuses on addressing disparities in the criminal justice system. Both programs are aligned with two of the Foundation's key strategies: advocating for equity and investing in community-led solutions.

A grant of $145,000 will fund an expansion of the Mitchell Hamline School of Law Re-entry Clinic aimed at closing a gap in services provided to those returning from prison by providing-in addition to direct legal representation-community education and a resource hub for re-entry services in the community. The clinic engages law students, under the supervision of experienced attorneys, to provide legal representation with clinic clients.

“More than 8,000 people are released from prison in Minnesota every year and thousands more are released from local facilities,” said Peter Knapp, Mitchell Hamline’s interim president and dean. “But being out of lock up doesn’t mean you’re not locked out. Formerly incarcerated individuals face great barriers, many of them legal. This grant will enable us to expand the Clinic’s representation and support as our clients navigate legal and other challenges that people face as they return home.”

The SEEN Project

A second grant for nearly $40,000 will fund SEEN, a project led by We Are All Criminals (WAAC) in partnership with the Minnesota Prison Writers Workshop (MPWW), which serves men and women currently incarcerated in Minnesota’s state prisons (writers), and the Minnesota Department of Corrections (DOC). SEEN will collect portraits, audio, written works and video of people in prison shared via social media, in addition to printed exhibits. SEEN was designed to share the voice and humanity of individuals in Minnesota prisons. The project encourages viewers to ‘see’ those incarcerated as human beings who are more than the mistakes they have made.

“We are deeply grateful to the Foundation for this grant that will expand both the reach and offerings of the SEEN project,” said Emily Baxter, executive director of We Are All Criminals. “In partnership with the Minnesota Department of Corrections, our ongoing vision will include portraits and the written and spoken word of more currently incarcerated people, correctional and probation officers, and the family members and loved ones of people currently incarcerated.”

Over the past five years, the Foundation has awarded grants to a number of organizations dedicated to criminal justice reform. Among those that have received Foundation's support are:

  • COMPAS, Inc.
  • Dispute Resolution Center
  • Mentoring Young Adults
  • Oyate Hotanin
  • St. Paul Youth Service
  • Ujamaa Place
  • Volunteer Lawyers Network

“We need avenues by which to welcome back people who are re-entering society and help them not only survive but return with dignity. This means access to jobs, housing and meaningful opportunities to move forward with their lives,” said Eric J. Jolly, Ph.D., president and CEO of the Foundation. “The Mitchell Hamline Law School Re-entry Clinic and the SEEN project are both working to make re-entry less difficult and more equitable, and to humanize justice-impacted people, by tackling barriers and sharing narratives about what it means to be incarcerated. We are honored to support the innovative work of both organizations.”

More Stories

Neighborhood House Connected MN

Public-Private Partnership to Support Student Connectivity Needs

The state is working with philanthropic and business leaders to focus on device and connection needs.

View the news
We Are All Criminals photo

Three Organizations Work to Transform the Criminal Justice System

Organizations launch emergency “Twin Cities Rebuild for the Future Fund,” already at $1 million.

View the news
MCF Land1

MCF and the Foundation Award Over $3 Million in Grants

Grants for COVID-19 nonprofit recovery and community resilience focus on Twin Cities BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) community recovery efforts.

View the news
Community Diversity Endowment Fund

Grants Awarded for Community-Led Solutions to Heal Racial Trauma

Funding will support programming of the African American Leadership Forum and the Healing Justice Foundation.

View the news
Stephanie Gale headshot

Foundation Welcomes Stephanie Gale

Stephanie Gale assumes new role as associate vice president - finance and controller at Minnesota’s largest community foundation.

View the news
Pahoua Yang Hoffman Headshot

Foundation Welcomes Pahoua Yang Hoffman

Nonprofit executive brings expertise to advancing community-led solutions in Minnesota as senior vice president of Community Impact.

View the news
MCF Land3

MCF and Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation Award Round Three Grant Funding

Minnesota Council on Foundations and Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation award over $2 million in third round of grants from the MDRF.

View the news

COMMUNITY IS OUR COMPASS

JOIN
US!