Domestic Human Rights Movement

Beginning in 2005, The Overbrook Foundation assumed a leading role in developing the domestic human rights movement. It joined as a founding partner the U.S. Human Rights Fund to respond to the burgeoning interest among social justice organizations in using universal human rights standards and strategies to advance their social justice advocacy. By invoking universal claims to dignity, equality and opportunity that go beyond civil rights protections contained in statutory law or the Bill of Rights, human rights empower vulnerable communities in the U.S. to define and lead their own campaigns against injustice.

Below is a list of the Foundation’s 2014 grantees working to build a domestic human rights movement.

American Civil Liberties Union
Human Rights Program $60,000 (first payment of a two-year grant)

The American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) Human Rights Program contributes to the overall development of the U.S. domestic human rights movement through capacity-building, and through cross-cutting strategies that build coalitions and raise awareness to domestic human rights issues. ACLU uses human rights instruments and mechanisms, including the human rights legal framework, to effect long-term change and to showcase U.S. abuses of human rights standards, including international and regional advocacy to press for U.S. government accountability.

Innocence Project
Uniting Science and Law on Behalf of Justice: Policy Program - $40,000 (second payment of a two-year grant)

The Innocence Project (IP) was founded in 1992 to assist prisoners who could be proven innocent through DNA testing. Post-conviction DNA testing has exonerated over 300 wrongfully convicted people in the U.S. since 1989, including 18 individuals who had been sentenced to death. The IP was either the attorney-of-record or assisted in the majority of these cases. The pioneering use of DNA technology has also provided irrefutable proof that wrongful convictions are not isolated or rare events but, instead, the result of systemic flaws that can be identified and addressed. In response, the IP developed a national policy program to reform the U.S. criminal justice system and protect innocent people from wrongful arrest, prosecution and imprisonment.

Leadership Conference Education Fund
Human Rights Policy and Education Project - $40,000

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights Education Fund’s goal for its Human Rights Policy and Education Project is to hold the United States government accountable for implementing its international human rights obligations and commitments here at home to protect and advance the civil and human rights of all who live in America. It will focus on three objectives: 1) advocate for and monitor the performance of the U.S. government to implement human rights commitments in the United States; 2) expand the constituency of national civil rights and social justice organizations that utilize the human rights framework in their ongoing work for equality and justice; and, 3) build U.S. public understanding of the benefits of ratification of core human rights treaties.

National Economic and Social Rights Initiative
General Operating Support - $40,000

The National Economic and Social Rights Initiative (NESRI) works in partnership with communities to develop a broad movement for economic and social rights including health, housing, education and work with dignity. Based on the principle that fundamental human needs create human rights obligations on the part of the government and private sector, NESRI advocates for public policies that guarantee the universal and equitable fulfillment of these rights in the United States. NESRI advances human rights by supporting grassroots campaigns and coalitions towards three overarching objectives. First, they strengthen public goods by advancing universal and public systems – including housing, healthcare, education and other social protection systems – that fulfill economic and social rights. Second, they seek to build the power of impacted communities and workers through organizing for participatory and accountable systems that ensure human rights and deepen democracy. Finally, they advance equity and justice by dismantling systemic barriers of oppression, exploitation and discrimination by creating inclusive systems, in policy and practice, which ensure the full realization of economic and social rights for all.

New York Civil Liberties Union
General Operating Support - $35,000 (second payment of a two-year grant)

Founded in 1951 as the New York affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union, it’s a not-for-profit, nonpartisan organization with eight offices and nearly 50,000 members across the state. Through a combined program of public education, advocacy and litigation, the New York Civil Liberties Union Foundation promotes the obligations of the government to act in accordance with the principles of human dignity that are at the core of a free and democratic society. As members of vulnerable populations are most often harmed by discriminatory government policies and practices, the New York Civil Liberties Union Foundation focuses its attention on injustices and inequalities in the areas of Race and Poverty, Reproductive Rights, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights, Liberty and Security, and Immigrants’ Rights.

Public Interest Projects
The Sunrise Initiative for Human Rights in the U.S. - $150,000

The Sunrise Initiative for Human Rights in the U.S. (Sunrise), launched in 2013, is a new funding collaborative that seeks to build on the rich history of U.S. engagement with human rights to respond to some of the most serious human rights crises in this country’s history. It advances human rights in the U.S. through strategic investments in two key areas, governance and policy. Sunrise supports work to develop more effective mechanisms for holding the U.S. government accountable to its human rights obligations, and to increase the capacity of groups and communities to employ these mechanisms. Policy investments will focus on work to ensure that the U.S. government’s immigration enforcement policy and practice meet human rights standards.

Urban Justice Center
Human Rights Project  - $30,000

The Urban Justice Center serves New York City’s most vulnerable residents through a combination of direct legal service, systemic advocacy, community education and political organizing. The Human Rights Project at the Urban Justice Center (HRP) promotes domestic compliance with universally accepted human rights standards. HRP works to educate local legislators, media, and the public about the government’s role in advancing or restricting human rights; equip advocates with human rights tools, models and networks; and inspire positive action and collaboration.

US Human Rights Network
General Operating Support - $40,000 (first payment of a two-year grant)

The US Human Rights Network (USHRN) is a national network of organizations and individuals working to strengthen and grow a human rights movement and culture in the United States led by the people most directly impacted by human rights violations. USHRN works to secure dignity and justice for all. Since its founding in 2003, USHRN has been instrumental in providing a unifying human rights framework and platform for shaping activism, connecting struggles, and building the collective power and voice of the grassroots to advance human rights at home.

Grantees By Year:  2014 / 2013 / 2012 / 2011