In 2005, The Overbrook Foundation first funded organizations leading the U.S. focused human rights movement.  As a founding partner of the U.S. Human Rights Fund, it responded to the growing interest among U.S.-based social justice organizations to use universal human rights standards and strategies to advance their advocacy. By invoking universal claims to dignity, equality and opportunity that go beyond civil rights protections found in the U.S. Constitution, human rights demands can empower vulnerable communities to define, lead and expand their own campaigns against injustice. 

As a part of its current strategic review, the Foundation is exploring the possible evolution of this initiative toward a focus that supports organizations using human rights values, frames and organizing principles to challenge systems of mass criminalization and incarceration in this country. This focus, if adopted by the Foundation, would take lessons learned from the Foundation’s past human rights grantmaking and apply them to the important efforts challenging mass incarceration and criminalization. 

As this program focus remains in development, it does not involve active grantmaking at this time.  Grants included on this page are 2016 renewal awards to current Overbrook domestic human rights grantees who work on challenging mass incarceration and criminalization.

American Civil Liberties Union Foundation

Human Rights Program - $60,000

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.

Innocence Project

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

The Innocence Project is a national litigation and public policy organization that provides pro bono post-conviction legal assistance to the wrongfully convicted and works to reform the criminal justice system to prevent future injustice.


General Operating Support - $25,000

JustLeadershipUSA (JLUSA) was established with the belief that this is a watershed moment in America’s history that must be defined by the meaningful inclusion of those most impacted by our government’s failed policies. Leveraging the guiding principle that those closest to the problem are closest to the solution, JLUSA invests in the talent of formerly incarcerated leaders and advocates across the country.

National Economic and Social Rights Initiative

General Operating Support - $50,000

In partnership with communities, NESRI works to build a broad movement for economic & 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 the private sector, NESRI advocates for public policies that guarantee the universal and equitable fulfillment of these rights in the United States.

New York Civil Liberties Union Foundation

General Operating Support - $35,000

The New York Civil Liberties Union Foundation (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.

Solitary Watch

General Operating Support - $30,000

Solitary Watch is a national watchdog group that investigates, documents, and disseminates information on the use of solitary confinement in U.S. prisons, jails, and immigrant and juvenile detention.

US Human Rights Network

General Operating Support and Leadership Transition Support - $55,000

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.

Grantees by Year: 20192018  |  2017  |  2016  |  2015