ArchCity Defenders

Constance Rush

ArchCity Defenders (ACD) is a holistic legal advocacy organization that combats the criminalization of poverty and state violence, especially in communities of color. ACD’s foundation of civil and criminal legal representation, social services, impact litigation, policy and media advocacy, and community collaboration achieves and inspires justice and equitable outcomes for people throughout the St. Louis region and beyond. ArchCity Defenders envisions a society liberated from systems of oppression where the promise of justice and racial equity is realized; communities where the approach to public safety prioritizes investment in well-being, health, and transformation without relying on criminalization and incarceration; and people living freely in their communities, thriving regardless of their race or income.

Deaconess Foundation supports ArchCity Defenders’ community collaborations efforts through its Responsive Grant portfolio. ACD collaborates with organizers, activists, and other advocacy partners on local events, initiatives, and campaigns to build community power in furtherance of a commitment to racial justice, human dignity, and liberation. ACD is active in coalitions calling for accountability among public officials and policymakers, help to organize town halls to provide community members with an outlet to share their ideas of what it means to re-envision public safety, partners with aligned organizations and individuals to design electoral debates and forums in a way that elevates issues disproportionately impacting poor people and black people in the region, and support bailouts that bring public awareness to the harms of mass incarceration and help to free people from cages.

Additionally, ArchCity Defenders is one of five inaugural members of Deaconess’ Anchor Institution Cohort. Since the launch of the Just for Kids Anchor Institutions Program in 2018 Deaconess has invested significant financial resources and consultative support to strengthen each organization’s effectiveness and culture by enhancing their leadership, adaptive, technical and management capacities. In turn, the cohort will be better positioned to contribute to community efforts that build power, shift policy and influence the systems within which children develop and grow.

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