Domestic Human Rights Movement
Beginning in 2005, The Overbrook Foundation assumed a leading role in funding the emerging 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 are the Foundation’s 2015 grantees working to build a domestic human rights movement.
Human Rights Program - $60,000 (second 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 cross-cutting strategies that build coalitions and raise awareness to domestic human rights issues. The 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.
Uniting Science and Law on Behalf of Justice: Policy Program - $40,000
The Innocence Project was founded in 1992 to assist prisoners who could be proven innocent through DNA testing. Post-conviction DNA testing has exonerated 325 wrongfully convicted people in the U.S. since 1989, including 20 individuals who had been sentenced to death. The Innocence Project was either the attorney-of-record or assisted in 175 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 Innocence Project developed a national policy program to reform the U.S. criminal justice system and protect innocent people from wrongful arrest, prosecution and imprisonment.
General Operating Support - $50,000
In partnership with communities, the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative (NESRI) works to build a broad movement for economic and social rights. Towards this end, it supports campaigns and projects that strengthen public goods, advance equity and justice, and build power. NESRI offers its partners campaign and coalition support, including documentation, research, alliance building, training and exchange opportunities, communications and strategic campaign planning. NESRI also works to engage the racial and economic justice field broadly to promote disruptive ideas that can transform oppressive and currently fragmented social systems towards ensuring universal human rights for all communities.
The Sunrise Initiative for Human Rights in the U.S. (Sunrise) is the newest funding collaborative housed at NEO Philanthropy. Its focus on domestic human rights recognizes that when the federal, state, or local governments within the U.S. violate basic human rights, they threaten the dignity and freedom of all people and betray the promise of the country’s deepest values and noblest aspirations. Sunrise advances human rights in the U.S. through strategic investments in two key areas: 1) reversing the criminalization of immigration enforcement and 2) strengthening human rights accountability.
General Operating Support - $35,000
The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU)’s mission is to defend and promote the principles and values underlying our democracy, including freedom of speech and religion, the right to privacy, equality and due process of law. Through a combined program of public education, advocacy and litigation, it promotes the obligations of state and local government to act in accordance with the principles of human dignity and self-determination 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 NYCLU’s work primarily focuses on affirming freedom and fairness for communities of color, low-income people, young people, immigrants, members of the LGBT and gender non-conforming community and New York’s women and families.
General Operating Support - $25,000
Founded in 2009 in response to a then-invisible domestic human rights issue, Solitary Watch is a national watchdog group that investigates, reports on, and disseminates information on the use of solitary confinement in U.S. prisons and jails. Its mission is to provide the public—as well as attorneys, scholars, corrections officials, policymakers, educators, advocates, currently and formerly incarcerated people and their families—with the first centralized source for background research, unfolding news, and original investigative reporting on solitary confinement.
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 (HRP) of the Urban Justice Center has been at the forefront of the U.S. human rights movement for fifteen years, effectively promoting domestic compliance with universally accepted human rights standards. It works to create a society where the right to health, housing, education and other standards necessary to live in dignity are guaranteed. HRP’s mission is to improve the lives of people living in poverty, while emphasizing the leadership of women and people of color. Its program strategies are to: (1) educate the public about our government’s role in advancing or restricting human rights; (2) equip advocates with human rights tools, models and networks; and (3) inspire new conversations through cultural work and thought leadership.
General Operating Support - $40,000 (second 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.