Roots & Branches Foundation Meets with Attorney General Weiser; Tackles Criminal Justice Reform

Tzedek Tzedek Tirdof – Justice, justice you shall pursue.” (Deuteronomy 16:20)

Incarceration imposes significant fiscal and social costs on the health and vitality of communities. In Colorado, much of that cost is due to individuals who commit a new crime, reoffend, or violate parole after being released from prison. The recidivism rate is 10 percent higher in Colorado than the national average of 40 percent. For many incarcerated individuals, reorienting and transitioning to society can be difficult to navigate. Programs and projects that address reentry can transform lives by providing support networks, reuniting families, repairing communities and helping people return to society with safety, success and dignity.

In response to these issues, the 2019 Roots & Branches Foundation (R&B) cohort will be funding nonprofit organizations that support incarcerated individuals as they reenter society. Through a collection of grants that will total approximately $50,000, R&B members hope to disrupt cycles of incarceration and poverty for the region’s most vulnerable populations.

The 2019 cohort’s decision to focus on incarcerated individuals was guided by the Jewish values of tzedakah (give in pursuit of justice) and teshuvah (forgiveness). “Roots & Branches members feel called to right the scales of justice for our most vulnerable communities,” explained initiatives manager Emily Kornhauser. “Investing in efforts that help people reenter society is a way for the cohort to address a modern American challenge through the lens of Jewish wisdom that believes in the value and restores the dignity of the incarcerated.”

Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser sat down with R&B members in early September to discuss how his Jewish heritage informs his perspective on administering justice. Weiser, a former member of Rose Community Foundation’s Jewish Life committee, applauded the cohort’s grantmaking priority and recognized the initiative’s impact on the Jewish community. “Roots & Branches Foundation plays an important role in fostering community engagement among Jewish young adults,” said Weiser. “Judaism teaches us about fair judgment and compassion. I commend the cohort for embracing these values by addressing a crucial issue facing our state.”

Roots & Branches Foundation is an initiative of Rose Community Foundation that engages Jewish young adults, ages 25 to 40, in collaborative philanthropy. Each year, a new group of 18 members works together to identify needs in the community, learn about philanthropy, and make grants in the greater Denver area. R&B members encompass the spectrum of Jewish denominations and bring a wide range of personal and professional experiences to the grantmaking process. Since 2007, Roots & Branches Foundation has granted more than $840,000 to strengthen the Greater Denver and Boulder Jewish and broader communities.

Roots & Branches Foundation is currently seeking proposals from eligible nonprofit organizations. All applications must be submitted via Rose Community Foundation’s online grants portal by Friday, October 4 at 5 p.m. Learn about opportunities for funding and view the full Request for Proposals.

For questions about Roots & Branches Foundation, contact Emily Kornhauser, Initiatives Manager, at For questions about the online grants portal, contact Kelli Rojas, Grants Manager, at

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