The recent tragedies in Minnesota and Georgia hit home the importance of work to address injustices that hold people back and prevent them from realizing their potential.
These barriers are not limited to our system of justice. They exist throughout society: in schools, in communities, in businesses, and in government policy.
Stand Together invests in individuals and organizations that seek to break down barriers that hold people back. At the heart of this work is a commitment to equal rights and a belief in the inherent dignity of every person.
Below you will find some examples of projects supported by the Stand Together community that are particularly relevant during these tense and troubling times. These projects seek to:
- Ensure equal justice under the law.
- Promote understanding and bridge divides between people of different races, backgrounds, and perspectives.
- Address the drivers of persistent poverty through work in communities.
- Break barriers to educational opportunity.
The work below is not new to our community. It represents many years of commitment.
The following is only a sample, and there is much more to do to break down barriers that prevent people from realizing their potential. For more information on how you can get involved in these and other projects, contact Hello@StandTogether.org.
Criminal justice reform: ensuring equal justice under the law
The Stand Together community works to advance a criminal justice system that preserves public safety, human dignity, and equal justice for all under the law.
For example, the Charles Koch Foundation and Charles Koch Institute support research on police reform, overcriminalization, and other critical topics to inform best practices and policy change.
This includes support for 10 university research centers focused on improving our criminal justice system and dozens of other projects to address injustice. Select projects include:
- New York University School of Law’s Policing Project, which promotes public safety and human dignity by focusing on supporting community policing and fostering transparency using technology.
- Georgetown University’s Innovative Policing Program, which works with the Metropolitan Police Department of Washington to train new police recruits on best practices to build public trust.
- The Quattrone Center for the Fair Administration of Justice at the University of Pennsylvania LawSchoolfocuses on preventing errors in the criminal justice system through data-driven research.
- The Deason Criminal Justice Reform Center at Southern Methodist University brings a “stats and stories” approach to criminal justice reform, assessing the hard data while amplifying the stories of wrongful convictions and overincarceration.
- The Buried Alive Project works to eliminate life-without-parole sentences for nonviolent drug offenders by building data sets and sharing their stories.
- The Center for Justice Research at Texas Southern University focuses on innovative approaches to dismantle justice-oriented barriers for members of fragile communities. It is part of a partnership with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund to establish university centers that promote awareness and understanding of the importance of removing educational, social, and economic barriers to opportunity for the least advantaged.
- Claremont Graduate University performs research that explores police force diversity and police bias and seeks to understand how “peer interactions” affect officer performance.
- The Sixth Amendment Center is the leading organization informing reforms to state-level right of counsel policies. Despite the constitutional requirement, people of limited means frequently receive representation in name only or not at all.
- The Cato Institute’s Qualified Immunity Project educates the public about how qualified immunity prevents citizens from securing relief if their constitutional rights have been violated.
- The Police Executive Research Foundation studies use-of-force policies in Prince George’s County, Maryland, seeking to create guidelines for de-escalation that can be replicated.
The Stand Together Foundation partners with dozens of organizations engaged in diverting individuals out of the justice system and facilitating effective reentry to society from the justice system. This includes organizations such as:
- Urban Specialists, which works to fight racial injustice and build bridges between law enforcement and the community.
- A Second U Foundation, which educates, certifies, and secures employment for formerly incarcerated people as certified fitness industry professionals.
- College Bound Dorchester, which employs an intervention model designed to serve the most influential and disconnected young people in the community, many of whom are involved with gangs and drive violence in the streets.
- Hope for Prisoners, which creates long-term relationships between police officers and the formerly incarcerated, humanizing both sides and increasing community trust.
- Fresh Lifelines for Youth, which covers topics such as police encounters, theft, vandalism, drugs, gangs, and police arrests along with life skills like anger management, problem-solving, conflict resolution, and resisting negative peer pressure.
The Stand Together community is committed to a culture of openness and tolerance. To advance that vision, the Charles Koch Foundation and the Charles Koch Institute invest in research to study and address the roots of intolerance and in developing tools to bridge differences across deep divides. Projects include:
- CKI joined with the Anti-Defamation League, the Ford Foundation, the Aspen Institute, the National Immigration Forum, and others to launch the After Charlottesville Project, focusing on tools to combat the rise in extremism, hate, and political violence.
- UNC-Chapel Hill social psychologist Kurt Gray and other scholars at the Center for the Science of Moral Understanding are undertaking research on drivers of intolerance and suggest new strategies for overcoming moral and political divides.
- At Arizona State University, the Race and the American Story project is building 30 scalable university programs provide students with experience in engaging in civil dialogue about the confrontation between principles and racial injustice.
- At the University of California, Berkeley, assistant professor of psychology Juliana Schroeder is conducting research to determine whether online communications can contribute to dehumanization and an unwillingness to hear other’s views.
- The Political Theory Project at Brown University hosts the nationally recognized Janus Forum Lecture Series, which provides an opportunity for students to engage contrasting perspectives.
- Narrative4 uses storytelling to build empathy between young people while equipping them to improve their communities.
- In partnership with the Future of Storytelling Bridging Divides award, CKI supported the creation of a virtual-reality experience that puts audiences in the shoes of protestors during the civil rights movement. Equality Labs in North Carolina and the Police Foundation used this content in communities to build trust and cohesion.
Communities and poverty
Stand Together’s work to address poverty by supporting effective community groups seeks to address racial injustice – both institutionally from government and culturally in communities – as a barrier that contributes to the cycle of poverty. The Stand Together Foundation works with 180 community organizations, including:
- Dfree, which focuses on financial empowerment in the black community through a partnership with Dr. DeForest “Buster” Soaries, a noted civil rights leader.
- Thread, which builds relationships between individuals to break down barriers and foster strong connections, has engaged Baltimore in race relations (following the death of Freddie Gray).
- Youth Guidance, which works with primarily African American youth in communities hit hardest by poverty and violence to provide counseling and mentorship to overcome barriers.
Quality education is disproportionately out of reach for certain communities. Stand Together is committed to breaking the barriers that prevent all students from having access to the educational tools necessary to realizing their potential. Key community partners include:
- yes. every kid, which is focused on public policy change that respects the dignity of every student by ensuring that funding follows each student for his or her education.
- Youth Entrepreneurs, which has provided transformational learning opportunities for the most vulnerable students for 30 years.
- National Summer School Initiative, which is providing high quality educational content from the best educators nationally to tens of thousands of students this summer.
- 50CAN National Voices Program, which is elevating the impact of diverse new voices in education policy and programs.
- UNCF Koch Scholars Program, which provides scholarships to students at historically black colleges and universities and other schools, and access to programming on principled entrepreneurship and mentoring to take full advantage of educational opportunities.
- Western Governors University Labs, which is designing new models that increase access to diverse students, including traditionally underrepresented student populations, through inclusive access policies.
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