The Dudley T. Dougherty Foundation

Rothko Chapel Spring Symposium: Undoing the Legacy of Mass Incarceration

Grant Information
Categories Education , Peace , Community
Location South Texas
Cycle Year 2016
Organization Information
Organization Name (provided by applicant) Rothko Chapel
Organization Name (provided by automatic EIN validation)
Contact Information
Contact Name David Leslie, executive director
Phone 713-524-9839
1409 Sul Ross
Additional Information
Used for We are requesting a $7,500 grant from the Dudley T. Dougherty Foundation to support the Rothko Chapel’s 2017 Spring Symposium, “An Act of Faith: Undoing the Legacy of Mass Incarceration.” The Chapel will bring together people from diverse political, racial, cultural, economic and religious backgrounds to strengthen our collective knowledge and support efforts to reform the criminal justice system with an emphasis on human rights and social equity. The symposium will focus attention on effective reform initiatives especially those centered on alternatives to incarceration which ultimately result in a decrease in the number of incarcerated people and a substantive reduction in recidivism rates.
Benefits Funds from the Foundation will ensure that the Spring Symposium reaches and involves key community and grassroots leaders in diverse communities at a time when there is bi-partisan and cross-sector agreement that our nation’s criminal justice system is broken and not serving the common good. Since Texas, as well as Harris County, has such a large and extensive criminal justice system, new resources are being invested in support of reform efforts throughout the state which will be studied and replicated in other parts of the United States and the world. A need also exists to learn about and adapt successful reform efforts developed outside of the state of Texas in order to support, connect and enhance the worldwide reform movement, ensuring that we remain globally connected.
Proposal Description The Rothko Chapel strives to develop new constituencies and impactful programs by expanding our service to the community and inspiring thousands of people to action in the hope of creating a more just and compassionate world. Last year the Chapel welcomed over 100,000 visitors and more than 9,000 program participants from 111 countries, providing them a sacred place for contemplation, mutual understanding and collective action.

Our strong interest in the promotion of human rights is seen in part through the Óscar Romero Award given biannually to human rights leaders throughout the world. In the fall of 2015, the award was shared by Honduran indigenous human rights activists Miriam Miranda and Berta Cáceres; and through film, music, and lectures presented over the course of several months, we were able to contextualize the struggles experienced by indigenous people to maintain their culture and sustain their communities. The Chapel's annual Frances Tarlton “Sissy” Farenthold Endowed Lecture was presented this past October and featured Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation, who led a conversation about the role of art in confronting inequality and the role of philanthropy as a change agent for justice.

Building on this body of work, the Chapel’s 2017 Spring Symposium, “An Act of Faith: Undoing the Legacy of Mass Incarceration,” will address both major challenges and reform efforts within the criminal justice system and will feature three days of workshops, plenaries, panels and activities curated to explore the legal, political, economic and spiritual dimension of the symposium’s theme. Held in Houston, Texas at the Rothko Chapel and the University of St. Thomas from March 30-April 1, 2017, the symposium will be co-presented with the university’s Department of Criminology, Law and Society. Professor Margaret A. Burnham from Northeastern University School of Law will give the opening keynote address on Thursday, March 30, and Vincent Schiraldi, Senior Research Fellow in Criminal Justice Policy and Management at Harvard University, will give the second keynote address on Friday, March 31. Our consultative partners include ACLU-Texas, Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, National Religious Campaign Against Torture, Houston reVision, Texas Civil Rights Project and organizations that serve people who are or have been incarcerated and their family members. Presenters will include academics, activists, faith and public sector leaders and others most affected by and dependent on today’s criminal justice system. While highlighting education, the symposium will feature opportunities for individual and collective action including serving as volunteers inside the system, hiring people who have been incarcerated and preparing communities for the reintegration of incarcerated individuals. Coinciding with the biannual meeting of the Texas Legislature, another area of focus will be on advocacy and legislative efforts leading to positive changes and reform efforts in Texas.

The overall budget for the 2017 Spring Symposium is anticipated to be approximately $50,000. This amount includes expenses related to speaker fees (honoraria, travel, lodging and meals), facility rental, AV and related services, printing and mailing, and meals for symposium attendees. Our goal is to have a minimal cost registration fee to ensure diverse participation including students from area colleges and universities. Support from the Dudley T. Dougherty Foundation will assist us in meeting these goals and offering a quality symposium that will enhance our collective knowledge and action in support of reforming our country's criminal justice system.