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Human Rights Watch

Bearing witness to human rights violations in the United States’ poorest communities

Human Rights Watch defends the rights of people worldwide. Their work spans issue areas and geographies, with a core commitment to in-depth research, high-level advocacy and global outreach.

In February 2013 with, Pay the Rent or Face Arrest: Abusive Impacts of Arkansas’s Criminal Evictions Law, Human Rights Watch exposed how hundreds of Arkansas tenants face criminal charges every year because they cannot pay their rent on time and then fail to vacate their homes quickly enough, transgressions that are not a crime in any other US state.

Our Interests: Equality of Chances

In our previous work with grantees, we knew of Human Rights Watch by reputation only. It wasn’t until fall 2013 that we had a chance to meet with representatives from HRW face to face. We asked to learn more about their work and looked for places to engage. We found a potential alignment between HRW’s investigations into poverty in the US and our core funding area Equality of Chances

Grant Potential

In support of HRW’s pioneering work in exposing legal abuses, our executive committee decided to fund two new research projects focused on poverty in the United States. The first looks at predatory lending practices and poor governance issues on Native American reservations. The second will document the incarceration of probationers for failure to pay fines and fees to for-profit companies hired by the courts. Each project will be carried out by the Business and Human Rights Program using its proven methodology.


  • Pioneer research on human rights abuses in the United States
  • Document the human rights implications of poverty in the United States


  • Expose and eradicate practices that criminalize poverty
  • Support policy change around lending practices for Native American communities
  • Support sound policy to regulate parole violations

Grants awarded


  • $20K discretionary grant to fund two new research projects