Criminal and Juvenile Justice in Baltimore

The Open Society Institute–Baltimore’s Criminal and Juvenile Justice Program seeks to reduce the overuse of incarceration and its social and economic costs without compromising public safety and to promote justice systems that are fair, are used as a last resort, and offer second chances. It supports advocacy, public education, research, grassroots organizing, litigation and demonstration projects that focus on reforming racial and social inequities at critical stages of the criminal and juvenile justice systems: arrest, detention and pre-trial / pre-adjudication; sentencing, incarceration, and pre-release; and reentry and reintegration into the community.

Eligibility Criteria

The Criminal and Juvenile Justice Program will support only organizations that seek to impact the lives of Baltimore residents.

Purpose and Priorities

Criminal and Juvenile Justice Program supports initiatives and organizations that seek to do the following:

  • increase the number of Baltimore residents who are diverted from the criminal and juvenile justice systems, particularly those accused of non-violent offenses. The program supports efforts to: investigate and promote effective alternatives to arrests, including school-based arrests; promote community-based alternatives to juvenile detention centers and adult jails; and end the practice of automatically charging youth as adults.
  • promote systemic reform of unfair criminal and juvenile justice policies and practices relating to arrests, pretrial procedures, sentencing, conditions of confinement, and parole and probation. The program supports policy reform efforts to address discriminatory arrests, pre-trial, sentencing and parole and probation practices. It also promotes efforts to ensure that prisons and jails maintain programming that will help people who are incarcerated to develop the skills needed to be successful when they return to the community
  • ensure that individuals with criminal and juvenile records successfully reenter and reintegrate into Baltimore City. The program supports advocacy efforts and demonstration projects that promote policies and practices that ensure appropriate access to employment, education and other opportunities regardless of criminal background status.

Step 1: Letter of Inquiry

Applicants should submit a copy of the IRS letter stating tax-exempt status and a two- to three-page letter of inquiry which includes the following:

  • a description of the program to be funded
  • the qualifications of the organization to carry out the program
  • the ways in which the program reflects the priorities of the Criminal and Juvenile Justice Program
  • the amount of the budget and the funds requested

The Criminal and Juvenile Justice Program will endeavor to respond to your letter within four weeks. If you do not hear from us within that time frame, please send an email to [email protected]

Step 2: Proposal Submission

If OSI-Baltimore determines that the proposal is of interest, it will invite the applicant to submit a full proposal. Applicants submitting a grant proposal should use the following format.

On institutional letterhead, the cover page should include the following:

  • a one-sentence description of the proposed initiative
  • the amount requested from OSI-Baltimore
  • the total organizational budget
  • the name of the organization that would serve as the grantee or fiscal sponsor for the grant if awarded
  • a contact name, address, and telephone number

The narrative should include the following:

  • a description of the organization
  • the need or issue to be addressed
  • the organization’s capacity to carry out the proposal
  • the program’s objectives
  • activities and methodology
  • the program’s expected outcomes
  • the financial sustainability of the program
  • the organization’s plans to assess the program's impact

Appendices to the proposal should include the following:

  • a list of current and proposed funders of the project or program
  • a one-page program implementation timeline for year one of the proposed project or program
  • resumes of the organization’s director, project director and other key staff
  • a copy of the IRS letter stating the organization’s tax-exempt status, if not submitted with the letter of inquiry
  • an annotated budget for the project or program for every year funding is requested, including both revenues and expenses
  • a copy of the organization’s overall budget
  • a copy of the most recent annual report and audit (or financial statement)