Ben & Jerry's Foundation: Grants for Criminal Justice Reform

OVERVIEW: The Ben & Jerry’s Foundation is devoted to supporting grassroots efforts for activism and change. Criminal justice reform is a component of its economic justice initiative.

IP TAKE: Most of Ben & Jerry’s grantmaking takes place in Vermont. Its national program is much more limited in scope.

PROFILE: The Ben & Jerry’s Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Vermont-based ice cream company, was established in 1985 with a gift of stock from one of its namesakes, Ben Cohen. The other namesake, Jerry Greenfield, was named president of the foundation—a position he still holds. The Ben & Jerry’s Foundation’s mission statement is “to engage Ben & Jerry's employees in philanthropy and social change work; to give back to our Vermont communities; and to support grassroots activism and community organizing for social and environmental justice around the country.” It operates through its four main programs: Community Action Team, Economic Justice, Capacity Building, and Grassroots Organizing for Social Change.

Ben & Jerry’s Economic Justice program works to address the “economic, social and environmental impacts of poverty.” It prioritizes “innovative programs that are working toward fundamental change in Vermont and that approach their work through the lens of social justice and equity.” The program’s areas of interest include: Equity in education, Access to safe and affordable housing, Criminal Justice Reform, Access to jobs with livable wages, Workers Rights, Access to affordable health care, and Access to healthy and affordable food. Recent criminal justice grantees include Mercy Connections’ Stand By Me program and Vermonters for Criminal Justice Reform.

The Ben & Jerry’s Foundation’s grants generally range from $10,000 to $25,000. Past Grants for criminal justice include Mercy Connections’ Stand By Me program and Vermonters for Criminal Justice Reform.


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