What is Mutual Aid?

Mutual aid means working to meet one another’s needs in helpful and supportive ways.

“Bound But Free,” Lessie Brown, 2007, mixed media

A group of University of Michigan students in PCAP began this mutual aid project to support formerly incarcerated people and criminal legal system-impacted people who are experiencing hardship due to the COVID-19 crisis. “Mutual aid” efforts are when people band together to meet immediate survival needs, usually because of a shared understanding that the systems in place aren’t coming to meet them, or certainly not fast enough, if at all, and that we can do it together right now. These efforts are intended to help as many in need as they can, rather than making judgements about others needs or capacities.

We are indebted to many other organizers for modeling mutual aid and providing us with resources to create this effort. In particular, we’re grateful to the NYC COVID-19 Financial Solidarity for Formerly Incarcerated People and Their Families Mutual Aid Project as well as organizers including Mariame KabaDean SpadeKelly Hayes and Delia Gando.

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