The Soze Agency — Right of Return Fellowship (2019)

Russell Craig with his piece “Self Portrait,” depicting his face on four canvases, painted over a backdrop of sentencing and parole papers from his conviction on drug charges, shown at the Truth to Power exhibit in Philadelphia, 2016. (Courtesy of Soze.)

Grant investigator: Chloe Cockburn

This page was reviewed but not written by the grant investigator. Soze Agency staff also reviewed this page prior to publication.


Open Philanthropy recommended a grant of $320,000 to The Soze Agency to support its Right of Return fellowship program for formerly incarcerated artists. The fellowship provides fellows with materials, a stipend, and mentorship under co-founders Jesse Krimes and Russel Craig. Fellows work closely with criminal justice reform organizations, using art and the artistic process to highlight issues and further criminal justice reform efforts.

This follows our August 2018 support and falls within our focus area of criminal justice reform.

The Soze Agency — Right of Return Fellowship

Russell Craig with his piece Self Portrait, depicting his face on four canvases, painted over a backdrop of sentencing and parole papers from his conviction on drug charges, shown at the Truth to Power exhibit in Philadelphia, 2016. (Courtesy of Soze)

Grant investigator: Chloe Cockburn

This page was reviewed but not written by the grant investigator. Soze Agency staff also reviewed this page prior to publication.

The Open Philanthropy Project recommended a grant of $300,000 to The Soze Agency via The Soze Foundation to support its Right of Return fellowship program for formerly incarcerated artists. This is a renewal and expansion of our December 2016 grant, which The Soze Agency used to support seven artists. Co-founders and previous fellows Jesse Krimes and Russell Craig will continue to provide mentorship and leadership for the new class.

This is a discretionary grant and falls within our focus area of criminal justice reform.

The Soze Agency — Returning Citizens Project

Russell Craig with his piece Self Portrait, depicting his face on four canvases, painted over a backdrop of sentencing and parole papers from his conviction on drug charges, shown at the Truth to Power exhibit in Philadelphia, 2016. (Courtesy of Soze)
Published: February 2017

The Open Philanthropy Project recommended a grant of $261,500 to The Soze Agency to support its Returning Citizens Project. Michael Skolnik, the CEO of The Soze Agency, plans to use this grant to coordinate the launch of a formerly incarcerated artist network, with an initial group of five selected artists.

This is a discretionary (formerly called “no-process”) grant. For discretionary grants, the grant investigator (in this case Chloe Cockburn, our Program Officer for Criminal Justice Reform) can recommend the grant without needing to go through our normal process of providing their reasoning, discussing with the team, and providing input on and review of our public page. These grants are limited to a relatively small proportion of our grantmaking, and some other stipulations apply to what types of grant are eligible. The overall aim is for us to be able to move forward on relatively small and low-risk grants, based purely on the judgment of a single staff member and with minimal delay.

Update: In June of 2017, we added $45,000 to the original award amount to expand the group of initially selected artists. The “grant amount” above has been updated to reflect this.