It’s hard to believe that two years have passed since we became co-executive directors of Minnesota Freedom Fund. It’s even harder to believe what we’ve accomplished in that time.
When we arrived at Minnesota Freedom Fund, it was a moment full of challenges and uncertainty. The organization had received an enormous outpouring of financial support during the George Floyd protests. Up until that time, Minnesota Freedom Fund had operated with one paid staff member and an annual budget of less than $300,000. When we took charge, we knew we would be leading a long and arduous effort to build an organization capable of stewarding the resources with which you entrusted us.
Building The Freedom Fund
During the last two years, we have done just that. We’ve granted $4.5 million to community bail funds in other cities and states. We’ve granted an additional $ 3 million to other organizations with related missions or serving similar communities. We are now paying bails in nine counties and immigration bonds for people all over the country. Since January 2021, the organization has paid 1,150 bails totaling $8.9 million. And in 2021, the last year for which we have complete data, we paid 76 immigration bonds for a total of $811,500.
And while its impact can’t be measured in dollars or numbers, we have also led the organization in developing a post-release program that contacts clients after release, provides them court reminders, and connects them with rides to hearings and other resources like housing, mental health care and treatment for substance use disorder, employment support, and more.
Partners around the state have noticed what we're doing: In 2022, the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits awarded Minnesota Freedom Fund with the Mission Award for Anti-Racism Initiatives, an award voted on by non-profit staff and volunteers from all over Minnesota.
Working for Systemic Change
Since we assumed leadership of Minnesota Freedom Fund, our goal has been to minimize the harms of the pre-trial and immigration systems while they exist. But our ultimate aim is to put ourselves out of business by ending those corrupt, wealth-based systems altogether.
To that end, in February, we launched Minnesota Freedom Fund Action, a 501(c)(4) political advocacy organization working through lobbying, political education, and narrative change to achieve pre-trial justice and end the harms of immigration detention. MFF Action is already making waves at the Minnesota Legislature. In the month since our launch, our supporters have already sent 175 messages to lawmakers demanding pre-trial fairness, and two bail reform bills we supported – and one we authored – have been introduced in the House.
We’re thrilled with these early results, and excited for what we can accomplish as we continue to build power and capacity. To do that, we need your help.
We Need Your Help
As we mark our two year anniversary as leaders of Minnesota Freedom Fund and celebrate our new responsibility leading MFF Action, we’re reaching out to donors to say “thank you.” Our success the last two years are because of your generosity, and the impact your gift has had on our clients and community has been immeasurable.
Heading into our third year, we want to ask for your renewed support. Your gift to Minnesota Freedom Fund helped us reduce the harm of racist, wealth-based jailing on our community. A gift today to MFF Action will help us eliminate those harms once and for all.
Be a part of this historic work by giving $20 to MFF Action, or increase your impact and sustain our work by pledging $20 each month this year. Our goal is to add 200 new donors this month to this new political advocacy project, and we need your help to get there.
Thank you for making these last two years a success. We hope to see you beside us as we build a grassroots coalition to finally end the oppressive systems Minnesota Freedom Fund was founded to address.
Mirella Ceja-Orozco & Elizer Darris
Co-Executive Directors, Minnesota Freedom Fund & MFF Action