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Robert Yazzie

Chief Justice Emeritus of the Navajo Nation

The Inspirations for the Fund

One of the immediate impulses for the fund was the 2017 Listening Project conducted by the Zehr Institute for Restorative Justice. The goal was to engage a cross section of restorative justice practitioners from different communities—urban, rural, aboriginal, east coast, west coast, Midwest and one Canadian territory—to get a feel for “the state of the state” of restorative justice, primarily in the U.S. Go here to see the project’s report, a one page summary of it, and an article about it.

Another impulse for Life Comes From It, came from the movement ecology framework developed by the Ayni institute which posits that an ecology of direct action, personal transformation and building alternative solutions can work together to produce social change. Movement ecology is a theorized framework that originated from Gandhian thinking. Restorative justice, transformative justice and indigenous peacemaking in our case serve as the important alternative solutions to carceral systems in the movement ecology– so we need to support those efforts around the country. 


A series of conversations and proposals followed for a year between sonya shah – the listening session report lead, and Chloe Cockburn – who was at Open Philanthropy Project and grounded in the movement ecology framework as a model for change, about starting a philanthropic fund. 

A year later, there were enough resources to start a fund. In our first advisory circle meeting in June 2018, we found that many of us working in one of the three fields of restorative justice, transformative justice and indigenous peacemaking are somewhat unaware of the work being done in the other two. We hope that in addition to stimulating grassroots work in all three fields, this fund can help build mutual awareness and cross-fertilization among us all and enhance a movement to address violence and repair harm rooted in community solutions. 

The original advisory circle for the fund was composed of Troy Wliliams, Sheryl Wilson, Robert Yazzie, Seth Weiner, Johonna Turner, sujatha baliga and sonya shah. After a year and a half, sujatha and Troy left our advisory circle to pursue other amazing opportunities, and Cheryl Fairbanks joined the circle. Seth Weiner became the program director in 2021, with Michael Foster and Rainey Enjady serving as program consultants. Seth has brought a new level of attention, care and vibrancy to the work of Life Comes From It both in grantmaking and movement building.


Contributors to the Fund


We are particularly grateful to the early believers and first contributors to the grantmaking circle - Open Philanthropy Project, Heising-Simons Foundation, The Libra Foundation, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Public Welfare Foundation, and anonymous donors. We are equally thankful to the other foundations and individual donors who support this work including the Bia Echo Foundation, Barton Family Fund, Community Investments Fund, Faegan Donor Advised Fund, Sobelstein Fund (a donor-advised fund of North Star Fund), New World Foundation, The Patchwork Collective, Just Impact Advisors, Silicon Valley Community Foundation, Trinity Church Wall Street, Hopewell Fund, Mountain Philanthropies, and the Lopker Family Foundation. We are also grateful to the Tides Foundation who fiscally held the fund until early 2023. Life Comes From It would not be possible without the philanthropic advocacy of Chloe Cockburn, CEO of Just Impact Advisors.

Please click here for our 2019 Funder Report. Our 2023 Impact Report is under construction.

Life Comes From It is fiscally and administratively managed by The Ahimsa Collective. Youth Passageways is the entity that holds our grant giving Donor Advised Fund (DAF). 


The name of the fund comes from an article in which Robert Yazzie, then Chief Justice of the Navajo Nation, laid out the major differences between the traditional Navajo system of law and the Anglo-American system.

 "If we say of law that 'life comes from it,' then where there is hurt, there must be healing."

– Robert Yazzie, Chief Justice Emeritus of the Navajo Nation


    Life Comes From It: Navajo Justice Concepts, New Mexico Law Review.

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