— ISN’T AN OBLIGATION —
IT’S A PRIVILEGE
My life today would not have been remotely possible without access to clean water, robust public education, healthcare, government creation and nurturing of the Internet, federally funded research and science, and the talents of brilliant people from literally around the world, including immigrants of virtually every race, ethnicity, and faith. By any measure, I have been exceedingly lucky. So, I take very seriously my responsibility to give back. Below are some of the organizations whose work Crystal and I find most inspiring and who we proudly support.
Using the power of the courts to defend American constitutional rights and values by drawing on expert litigators and the constitutional scholarship of Georgetown University to vindicate individuals’ rights and protect America’s constitutional way of life. For instance, the team fighting the Muslim Ban all the way to the Supreme Court? That was ICAP. I am so grateful for their work, particularly during these last four years of madness.
The United States has the largest prison population in the world and the highest per capita incarceration rate. Our racist and classist judicial system invests almost nothing actual rehabilitation of those who are sentenced to prison. By mentoring the men, women, and children inside and providing them skills training, the Anti-Recidivism Coalition has achieved a five-fold reduction in the recidivism rate of those who are released. In parallel, the ARC has spearheaded sweeping legislative reforms providing a second chance for those who were sentenced to life without parole for crimes committed while they were children. My visits to maximum security prisons have taught me so much about the notions of forgiveness and redemption and I’m in awe of the ARC’s work.
Science funding processes are too mired and bureaucratic in normal times and have been disastrously slow in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Fast Grants are an effort to correct this and get money into the hands of researchers within days. Not only have the results already had a meaningful impact on diagnostic, supportive, and therapeutic approaches to COVID, but I hope the success will inspire an entirely new approach to funding research.
Every day, millions of low-income Americans spend days in jails without being convicted of any crime simply because they don’t have the money to post bail. 90% of those people end up pleading guilty just to go home. Yet 50% of people who can afford bail have their charges entirely dismissed. Cash bail is an evil and discriminatory system that deprives the poor of their rights. Until all states outlaw the system, The Bail Project puts up bail money so that poverty is not a crime. I feel so lucky to be involved in this incredibly innovative approach to ending the cycles of mass incarceration.
At a time when public lands are under threat and the climate crisis endangers all life on the planet, preserving natural spaces has never been more important. I also believe that one of the things America got right was making countless acres of land available for public access and enjoyment. So it’s with great pride that we’ve contributed to ensure huge parcels of land will never be subject to development and will be managed for the everlasting benefit of humans, plant and animal life, and even as carbon stores in the fighting against the emergency levels of the planet’s warming.
Uniting the skills and experiences of military veterans and first responders to provide rapid relief to communities impacted by natural disasters. In the first moments following hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, fires, or floods, Team Rubicon deploys America’s most talented and selfless volunteers to apply their logistics, operations, trauma medicine, and leadership expertise to help those affected get back on their feet. In conditions that others find harrowing, Team Rubicon feels right at home and knows how best to get to work.