The David D. Dodge Foundation makes grants to nonprofit human rights organizations. With each grant, there is a story. We invite grantee organizations to share their stories here.

Human Rights Watch 2019 San Diego Film Festival

The Human Rights Watch Film Festival (HRWFF) was founded in 1988 by Human Rights Watch, on the 40th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Recognizing the rising importance of cinema, the festival highlights the personal struggles of those affected by discrimination, persecution, state-sponsored violence and oppression.

Using the power of film, the festival helps audiences connect with these issues on a deeper level, while encouraging them to take action and demand justice.

The HRWFF is at the forefront of the global human rights documentary movement, and is the longest running human rights film festival in the world.

It has a rigorous film selection process where hundreds of film submissions from around the world are carefully vetted for the accuracy of their content and the quality of their filmmaking.

A central component of the festival is the post-screening discussion where Human Rights Watch brings filmmakers, film subjects, relevant HRW staff and other experts to respond to audience questions and provide the most recent updates on the issues described in each film.

Every year, the festival collaborates with local community partners in the San Diego area in order to ensure that a diverse range of voices and backgrounds are included in the post-film discussions.

This year’s festival will take place on January 31, 2019 – February 3, 2019 at the San Diego Museum of Photographic Arts (MOPA) in Balboa Park.

Tickets and festival-passes will become available in December 2018 on MOPA’s website: and on Human Rights Watch’s website:

The National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty’s
Justice Powered by Information & Action (JPIA) Program

Research consistently shows that death sentences:

  • Are given based on race instead of the severity of the crime.
  • Have been given to many people who were later proven innocent.
  • Do nothing to deter crime or increase public safety.
  • Cost states millions more than alternative justice would.

The US should abolish the death penalty and invest instead in strategies that are actually proven to increase public safety – those that eradicate racial inequity, support people in conflict with the law, and increase access to good education, living wage jobs, and mental healthcare.

In 2018, the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty launched Justice Powered by Information & Action (JPIA) to offer free monthly webinars with experts from across the nation speaking on the death penalty’s flaws and connections with other social justice issues.

The facts in these webinars will shock you, anger you, and make you want to take action with us.

Each webinar includes calls to action that will give you the opportunity to join us in building a grassroots movement of people helping to change public thinking on the death penalty. JPIA will also offer a companion briefing paper and toolkit and a second series of skills training webinars for organizing to replace the death penalty with programs that actually work.

Together, we can get the nation talking about the real purpose of the criminal justice system and demanding that it shift from trying to punish someone whenever a crime is committed to using evidence-based methods that actually reduce crime and increase public safety.

Opposition to the death penalty is already high. When enough of us start talking about it and demanding change, policymakers will act to abolish this heinous practice of racially biased state-sanctioned killing once and for all. Join us at

Razia’s Ray of Hope Foundation – Sports and Recreation Program

Razia Jan, native Afghan and award-winning humanitarian, is the founder of Razia’s Ray of Hope Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 2007 that improves the lives of young women and girls through community-based education in the rural district of Deh’Subz, Afghanistan. Built on the knowledge that education is key to positive, peaceful change for current and future generations, Razia’s Ray of Hope Foundation provides learning and growth in a safe, nurturing environment, empowering girls and women through education and resources so that they may work toward brighter futures—in their own villages and beyond.

In March 2008, Razia’s Ray of Hope Foundation opened its flagship program, the Zabuli Education Center, an all-girl K-12 school, with 100 students. Today the school is thriving in its tenth year of operation providing free, exceptional education and school supplies, in addition to uniforms, shoes, warm coats, healthy meals, and transportation to and from school to approximately 640 disadvantaged girls in a region with one of the lowest literacy rates in the world. Zabuli Education Center students come from impoverished, uneducated households in a society that systemically stifles women’s achievement.

In March 2017, Razia’s Ray of Hope Foundation opened the Razia Jan Institute, the first women’s postsecondary vocational school in this region of Afghanistan, adjacent to the Zabuli Education Center. The Razia Jan Institute is a tuition-free, two-year midwifery training program and educational facility emphasizing the importance of maternal and infant health while supporting health-sector employment for Afghan women, and includes classes in English, personal finance, and computer literacy. Building on the success of the Zabuli Education Center, the Razia Jan Institute offers post-secondary education opportunities to graduates of the Zabuli Education Center and other community members, providing them with a clear path to empowered employment as midwives while bringing medical services to a desperately underserved area. The Razia Jan Institute will matriculate 20 to 25 young women every other year beginning with this first class that began in 2017.

The grant funds provided by the David D. Dodge Foundation will allow Razia’s Ray of Hope Foundation to create a sports and recreation program at the Zabuli Education Center. This program will include building playground structures appropriate for elementary students, creating a small green space for soccer and a paved area for basketball and volleyball, as well as purchasing the equipment necessary for these sports.

School is the one place where our students actually get to be children, where they can run and play and be physically active without any negative social pressure. By offering a sports and recreation program at Zabuli Education Center we hope to provide our students with a healthy physical outlet, and to allow them to explore and develop their physical fitness. We anticipate that the girls will not only benefit physically from the sports and recreation program, but that we will also see improvements in their social and emotional well-being as well as in their academic performance.

For more information about Razia’s Ray of Hope Foundation, please visit our website:

Southern Poverty Law Center Southeast Immigrant Freedom Initiative

The Southern Poverty Law Center is dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of our society. Using litigation, education, and other forms of advocacy, the SPLC works toward the day when the ideals of equal justice and equal opportunity will be a reality.

Civil rights lawyers Morris Dees and Joseph Levin Jr. founded the SPLC in 1971 to ensure that the promise of the civil rights movement became a reality for all. Since then, we’ve won numerous landmark legal victories on behalf of the exploited, the powerless and the forgotten.

Every day, tens of thousands of immigrants are locked behind bars in the United States. Many are detained for months, even years, far from their loved ones and communities. They’re subject to the same abuses prevalent in the country’s criminal justice system — confinement, low-quality nutrition and medical treatment, and rampant abuse — without the constitutional right to an attorney. Although immigrants with legal counsel are more than 10 times as likely to succeed in their cases, the vast majority of detainees are forced to represent themselves in their proceedings.

The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Southeast Immigrant Freedom Initiative (SIFI) challenges the deportation machine and safeguards immigrants’ rights. SIFI volunteers and staff provide pro bono help to immigrants detained at five detention centers across the Southeast.

What we do:

  • Protect immigrants’ due process rights
  • Hold law enforcement and detention facility personnel accountable for civil rights violations
  • Challenge the deportation machine
  • Educate the public about immigrants and debunk falsehoods
  • Cultivate and expand attorney engagement

The South, which already has some of the highest rates of incarceration in the country, is the bargain basement of immigration detention. Facilities charge among the lowest per diem rates in the country in order to land Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) contracts that can create jobs for communities, revenue for municipalities and profits for private prison operators, no matter the long-term cost.

SPLC will continue with its work until the day comes when the ideals of equal justice and equal opportunity will be a reality for all. To obtain more information about our work, please go to our website: