Vera Institute of Justice (VIJ)



Tax ID:


Tax-Exempt Status:


Budget (2016):

Revenue: $68,998,538
Expenses: $67,472,196
Assets: $65,597,193


Ca. 1960s


Criminal Justice Policy Advocacy Group


Manhattan Bail Project

Vera Institute of Justice (VIJ) was founded in the 1960s as a project of Louis Schweitzer, an eccentric New York philanthropist and Herbert Sturz, a trustee of George Soros’s Open Society Foundations. [1] [2] Originally known as the Manhattan Bail Project, the organization was founded to help poor New Yorkers satisfy bail conditions they could not afford.

Now known as the Vera Institute of Justice, it has transformed into a broader left-of-center advocacy organization that agitates against what it characterizes as mass incarceration, racial disparities, and marginalization. Much of its work now focuses on immigration issues. [3]


Safety and Fairness for Everyone (SAFE) Network

The Safety and Fairness for Everyone (SAFE) Network is a campaign by VIJ that aims to use taxpayer dollars to pay for legal representation for illegal immigrants seeking legal permanent residence in the US. [4] Public funds are being spent on the program in Oakland, Santa Ana ($145,000) and Sacramento ($300,000), California; Denver, Colorado ($385,000); Austin and San Antonio, Texas; Dane County, Wisconsin; Chicago, Illinois; Columbus, Ohio; Baltimore and Prince George’s County, Maryland; and Atlanta, Georgia. [5] [6] SAFE also received donations from nonprofit organizations such as the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Kresge Foundation, and Open Society Foundations. [7]

Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons

Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons is a project of VIJ that aims to reform prisons across America as part of the organization’s larger goal of “reducing the use of jail.” [8] The project was financially supported by Open Society Foundations.



Louis Schweitzer, a co-founder of Vera Institute for Justice, was a philanthropist in New York City best known for his attempts to reform the city’s justice system. Schweitzer purchased the New York Radio station, WBAI, which he later donated to the Pacifica Foundation, a progressive liberal group of radio stations with ties to the Tides Foundation and the Rockefeller Family Fund. WBAI remains one of the foundation’s five stations. [9]

Herbert Sturz is a co-founder of VIJ and a philanthropist who also serves as a senior advisor to George Soros’s Open Society Foundations (OSF).

Board of Directors

Nicholas Turner is the president and executive director of VIJ. Turner previously served as a managing director at the Rockefeller Foundation.

Frederick A. O. Schwarz Jr. is a trustee of VIJ. He also serves as chief counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice, a left-of-center legal policy organization which has taken sums from OSF. [10]

Daniel Wilhelm serves as vice president and chief program officer for VIJ.

James Parsons is vice president and director of research of VIJ.

Gregory Klemm serves as controller of VIJ.

Susan Rai is the Secretary and special counsel for VIJ.


VIJ paid $245,000 to the Tides Center, a subsidiary of the left-of-center Tides Foundation, in the form of a cash grant labelled as a “subgrant to provide expertise on criminal justice strategy on stopping the cycle of crime,” according to 2016 IRS filings. [11]

VIJ received a $50,000 grant from the Open Philanthropy Project, a project of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, in 2017. [12] It has also received $600,000 in grants labelled as “Legacy” since 2005 from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. [13]

In June 2019, the NFL awarded $2 million worth of grants to eight nonprofit organizations, including VIJ, to support their social justice causes. The NFL explained their goal is to “support programs and initiatives that reduce barriers to opportunity.” [14]


  1. “Herbert Sturz: Executive Profile.” Accessed February 22, 2019. ^
  2. Johnston, Laurie. “Louis J. Schweitzer Dead; Founder of Vera Institute.” The New York Times. September 21, 1971. Accessed February 22, 2019. ^
  3. “Vera Institute.” Vera. Accessed February 22, 2019. ^
  4. “Safety and Fairness for Everyone (SAFE) Network.” Vera. Accessed February 22, 2019. ^
  5. Egel, Benjy. “Nonprofit Pledges to Match Whatever Sacramento Spends on Legal Aid for Undocumented Immigrants.” November 15, 2017. Accessed February 22, 2019. ^
  6. Slevin, Colleen. “Network of Local Immigrant Legal Defense Funds Expanding.” AP News. November 15, 2018. Accessed February 22, 2019. ^
  7. Rojc, Philip. “Universal Representation: Behind a Public-Private Partnership Effort to Defend Immigrants.” Inside Philanthropy. February 20, 2019. Accessed February 22, 2019. ^
  8. “Vera Institute.” Vera. Accessed February 22, 2019. ^
  9. Johnston, Laurie. “Louis J. Schweitzer Dead; Founder of Vera Institute.” The New York Times. Accessed February 26, 2019. ^
  10. “William J. Brennan Center for Justice.” Influence Watch. Accessed February 26, 2019. ^
  11. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). Vera Institute of Justice (2016). Schedule I, Part II. ^
  12. “Vera Institute of Justice – New Orleans User-Funded Justice System.” Open Philanthropy Project. December 15, 2017. Accessed February 26, 2019. ^
  13. Carnegie Corporation. “Vera Institute Of Justice, Inc.” Carnegie Corporation of New York. Accessed February 26, 2019.!/grants/grants-database/grant/25322.05/. ^
  14. “NFL Announces Eight New Social Justice Recipients.” NFL Communications. June 04, 2019. Accessed June 04, 2019. ^

Directors, Employees & Supporters

  1. Kica Matos
    Director of Center on Immigration and Justice
  2. Christopher Stone
    Honorary Trustee, Former President
  3. Chloe Cockburn
    Former Employee
  4. Anita Khashu
    Former Director, Center on Immigration and Justice
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: June - May
  • Tax Exemption Received: October 1, 1962

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2016 Jun Form 990 $68,998,538 $67,472,196 $65,597,193 $46,296,608 N $68,574,966 $0 $182,145 $902,874
    2015 Jun Form 990 $51,271,172 $51,994,379 $47,051,406 $29,264,545 N $50,558,021 $0 $208,188 $1,656,448 PDF
    2014 Jun Form 990 $43,397,495 $40,941,592 $91,048,965 $72,192,241 N $42,421,975 $0 $311,603 $1,212,473 PDF
    2013 Jun Form 990 $35,530,385 $34,684,671 $71,807,755 $55,916,779 N $34,396,573 $0 $160,260 $1,011,457 PDF
    2012 Jun Form 990 $30,875,831 $30,507,527 $61,076,680 $45,720,609 N $30,217,142 $0 $153,954 $976,095 PDF
    2011 Jun Form 990 $28,612,706 $29,095,697 $62,240,321 $46,796,430 N $27,663,591 $0 $168,328 $891,835 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Vera Institute of Justice (VIJ)

    NEW YORK, NY 10279-1299