The Urban Institute and the Microsoft Justice Reform Initiative are collaborating on the Catalyst Grant Program to help organizations use data and technology to advance racial equity in the criminal legal system. Local projects focus on the system’s front end, including prevention, policing, and prosecution. On this website, you can find descriptions of the Catalyst Grant Program and the efforts it funds.
Racism and racial biases are deeply embedded in the criminal legal system, leading to disproportionate harm to communities of color. People of color, particularly Black people, experience arrests and vehicle and pedestrian stops at higher rates than white people. Moreover, Black people are detained at higher rates than white people and incarcerated for longer periods. Even brief stays in prison or jail can result in lost employment and housing, burdensome fines and fees, and destabilized family relationships. Legal system involvement exacerbates existing challenges for many people of color and contributes to a compounding cycle that criminalizes them.
The Catalyst Grant Program supports local organizations across the country in using data and technology to inform and improve policies and practices that advance racial equity in prevention, policing, and prosecution. Each organization receives funds to cover project costs, project implementation assistance from Urban, peer learning opportunities, and access to Microsoft technology and related support.
We encourage you to learn more about the organizations, their projects, and lessons Urban gleans from their experiences through this web page and our 2021 Urban Wire post about the program. Sign up to receive notices of future rounds of the Catalyst Grant Program.