Philadelphia's participation in the Safety and Justice Challenge

Criminal Justice Microgrant Fund

The City’s Criminal Justice Microgrant Fund will award and distribute $200,000 in grants in 2021.


About the fund

The Criminal Justice Microgrant Fund provides resources to community-based organizations doing innovative work on criminal justice reform. This work must further the goals of the City’s participation in the MacArthur Foundation Safety and Justice Challenge. The fund is a collaboration between the City and its criminal justice and community partners.

The fund aims to support project that:

  • Develop new and creative approaches to criminal justice reform in Philadelphia.
  • Engage communities disproportionately impacted by the criminal justice system in the reform effort.
  • Provide services to individuals who have been directly impacted by the criminal justice system

Award categories

The Criminal Justice Microgrant Fund will award and distribute $200,000 in grants 2021. The fund will award grants in the following categories:

  • Sustainability
    • Sustainability grants support existing initiatives. Grants will be awarded up to $10,000.
  • Innovation
    • Innovation grants support new projects and unique approaches. (If you are making a notable change to an existing program, you should apply for an innovation grant.) Grants will be awarded up to $10,000.

Organizations may apply for one category only.

Application review process

All applications will be reviewed by the Criminal Justice Grantmaking Committee. The Grantmaking Committee will include members of the Community Advisory Committee and partners from local government. The Grantmaking Committee’s recommendations will be presented to the full MacArthur Implementation Team for final funding decisions.


To be eligible, applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • Applicant must have valid 501(c)(3) nonprofit status, or partner with a nonprofit organization that can serve as a fiscal sponsor.
  • Programming must be based in Philadelphia.
  • Projects must advance criminal justice reform through policy change, community engagement, or programming.

Criminal Justice Microgrant funds will not support:

  • Individuals.
  • Projects or programs located outside the City of Philadelphia.
  • Units of government or governmental departments.
  • Multi-year requests.
  • One-time events (unless tied to an ongoing program or service).

Applications must be for a single year.

Awarded organizations must complete an end-of-year report and present to Grantmaking Committee members.

Selection criteria

The committee will use the criteria below to evaluate letters of intent. The committee will recommend projects to be invited to submit a full proposal.

  • Is the proposal compelling? Does it advance criminal justice reform through policy change, community engagement, or programming?
  • Does the project meet the priorities of criminal justice reform and the Safety and Justice Challenge?
  • Does the project use or create unique and meaningful partnerships between organizations or the community?
  • Is the proposal realistic and well thought out?
  • Is the project financially feasible? Does the budget support the proposed activities?
  • Does the evaluation plan describe useful measurements?
  • If the requested funds do not cover all project expenses, is there a plan to raise the additional funds?

Application timeline

Date Step
November 6, 2020 Letters of Intent are due.
November 20, 2020 Applicants may be contacted to provide additional information.
December 3, 2020 Selected applicants will be invited to submit a full grant proposal. Applicants that aren’t selected will be notified.
January 8, 2021 Full grant proposals are due.

February 5, 2021

Applicants will be notified of funding decisions.

Letter of intent

To apply, organizations must submit a Letter of Intent via email or through the online form. Applications are due by 5 p.m. on November 6, 2020.

Via email

Letters of Intent (LOIs)  must be no more than four pages. Email LOIs as a PDF document with attachments to

For instructions in English and Spanish, see the Grant Guidelines and Letter of Intent.

Online form