Drug Policy / Criminal Justice

Because of current societal fears and stigma regarding recreational drugs and drug users, the U.S. spends over $50 billion a year perpetuating their illegality, primarily to incarcerate addicts, racial minorities, the mentally ill, and economically disadvantaged individuals, as well as running devastating anti-drug campaigns in foreign nations. This repeatedly failed attempt at prohibition results in the creation of dangerous black markets, and precludes treatment, harm-reduction strategies, and sound preventative education. Further, our criminal justice system and “correctional” facilities have become a system of punishment and control, relegating individuals to the periphery of society with few opportunities or resources available for healing, growth, and integration. The Riverstyx Foundation seeks alternatives to the war-on-drugs by supporting efforts that remove drugs from the black market and towards legalization or medicalization, as well as establishing more compassionate and effective methods for reducing the harms associated with drug use. Further, Riverstyx supports a variety of efforts to both reduce the number of non-violent offenders in prison and jail through pre-arrest diversion, mediation, as well as programs that provide opportunities for education and healing while in prison.

End-of-Life Care

Similarly, the lack of acceptance and fear around death and dying has resulted in massive expenditures of often frivolous and artificial attempts to minimally prolong life at the end. More than half of Medicare dollars are spent on patients who die within two months, costing society over $300 billion annually, often adding stress to families and actually reducing the quality of life for many. This cultural of “death denial” has also prevented society from empowering mentally sound individuals with terminal prognoses to be able to take greater control over their pain and timing of their death. The Riverstyx Foundation aims to support a more balanced approach that encourages avenues to reduce suffering through hospice and palliative care, providing people the opportunity to die with less suffering, and with greater dignity and peace.


The Riverstyx Foundation believes in the human potential for healing, growth, and transformation. However, often out of fear of change, as well as distrust in human potential, society tries to control, stigmatize, and even punish those who are struggling outside the norm. Drug users, criminals, and death and dying are labels so politically and morally charged, and even pathologized, that society attacks those ‘problems’, as opposed to recognizing the true needs and sufferings of the person underneath.

Featured Societal Grantees

Yoga Behind Bars (YBB) is a community of over 50 volunteer teachers providing opportunities for greater peace, self-awareness, and flexibility of the mind and body for incarcerated men, women, and youth throughout Washington State. Through the shared practice of yoga and meditation, YBB aims to also dissolve the illusory dichotomy of prisoner as ‘other’, and to bridge communities inside and out of prison walls through the compassion it fosters. 

*Riverstyx Grantee Since 2011

Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD)

LEAD is an innovative pre-booking diversion pilot program developed to address low-level drug and prostitution crimes in Seattle. The program allows law enforcement officers to redirect low-level offenders engaged in drug or prostitution activity to wrap-around social services, instead of jail and prosecution. By diverting eligible individuals to treatment, housing, job-placement, and other effective social services, LEAD is committed to improving public safety and reducing crime, while availing support to individuals and their families at a fraction of the cost of incarceration. LEAD is now being considered as a viable and cost-effective alternative to addressing non-violent crimes in several municipalities across the country. 

*Riverstyx Grantee Since 2011

Social Justice Fund (Seattle, WA)

Social Justice Fund engages donors at all giving levels to fund movements for progressive social change. We leverage the resources of our members to foster significant, long-term social justice solutions throughout Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. Social Justice Fund Northwest relies on the support of our community to achieve our mission. Riverstyx Foundation has been helping to match all donations into the Criminal Justice and Economic Justice Giving groups.

*Riverstyx Supported Since 2010

Economic Opportunity Institute (Seattle, WA)

The mission of the Economic Opportunity Institute (EOI) is to build an economy that works for everyone by advancing public policies that promote educational opportunity, good jobs, healthy families and workplaces, and a dignified retirement for all. Riverstyx Foundation has supported EOI in their efforts to advance progressive taxation among the most wealthy in Washington State, which has the most regressive tax structure in the U.S. 

*Riverstyx Grantee Since 2010

Please reload

Additional Societal Grantees 
Show More

“It is no measure of health to be well-adjusted to a sick society"                                                                                                                                                  -Krishnamurti