Open Society Youth Fellowship

The Open Society Youth Fellowship supports young activists and organizers as thought leaders and allies in crafting solutions and new youth-focused approaches to open society challenges.

Youth Fellows should take advantage of the considerable intellectual and logistical resources of the Open Society Foundations and expect to contribute meaningfully to the Foundations’ thinking in return. While fellows will work outside of Open Society Foundations core offices, they will liaise with the Open Society Youth Exchange to identify opportunities for both in-person and virtual engagement with Open Society staff and partners. The Youth Exchange will work with each individual fellow to identify additional opportunities for the fellow to learn from and collaborate with staff and partners through site visits, speaking engagements, and other fora.

Fellows may produce a variety of work products, including publications, such as reports and blog posts; infographics and other visual content; innovative education and training resources and tools; the launch of new campaigns and organizations; and creation of artistic or cultural expression projects. They may also engage in activities such as hosting panel discussions, traveling to conferences, and presenting on their work in other public spaces.

Eligibility Criteria

All applicants should be under the age of 30. While we will consider applicants who are currently employed by a civil society organization or university, we will request additional information to confirm that the individual is acting on their own in regards to their proposed project, and that their current employer is flexible with their independent role as a Youth Fellow.

The Youth Exchange accepts proposals from anywhere in the world, with a particular interest in proposals from the global south. Applicants should possess a deep understanding of their particular field and a record of successful movement-building initiatives, innovative project management experience, and/or experience in research/tools development. Applicants must be proficient in spoken English.

Fellowship applications should relate to at least one of the following areas of work:

  • youth mobilization and innovation in traditional human rights movements (i.e., the LGBTQ rights movement, disability rights, women’s rights, drug policy reform, etc.)
  • youth participation and civic engagement particularly around elections
  • youth-led movements
  • youth-led work in the field of justice (for example, policing, pretrial detention, incarcerated youth, or alternative sentencing)
  • youth tactics in advocacy and awareness raising (for example new media, arts activism, peer-to-peer networks, etc.) around human rights issues
  • youth in closed or transitional societies
Ineligibility Criteria

Only individuals may apply. We will not accept proposals that are clearly on behalf of an NGO or other formal organization. Fellows may not use stipends to replace funding for activities or projects that a host organization is already implementing. Enrollment for degree or non-degree study at academic institutions, including dissertation research, and projects that include lobbying activities will not be funded.

Purpose and Priorities

Fellows will receive a stipend of $35,000–50,000 depending on experience and current income. The fellowship will also cover some travel and project costs related to the fellows’ work to be discussed. 

Applications will be reviewed by a selection committee comprised of Open Society Foundations staff. Reviewers consider whether the applicant’s background, track record, and depth of expertise give reason to believe that the project will be successfully completed and whether the applicant offers persuasive evidence that the fellowship project will significantly inform the public and the Open Society community.

Selection and Notification Cycle

  • Applications due: May 15, 2015
  • Applications review: May/June 2015
  • Applicants notified of their status: late June 2015
  • Short-listed applicants invited for an in-person, Skype, or telephone interview: by July 1, 2015
  • Fellows notified: late July 2015
  • Fellows announced: early August 2015

All interested applicants should complete the online application form and submit supporting materials for consideration. Applicants may submit a project proposal or other materials in a language other than English, as long as they also submit an English translation. Certified translations are strongly recommended.

Once the initial information has been entered, applicants receive login details and an ID number that allows them to make additions and revisions to the form until materials are submitted. The ID number should be quoted in any correspondence. The program strongly encourages applicants to submit only electronic supporting materials. However, if applicants have hard copy materials that they feel are essential to the evaluation of their project, they can list these at the end of the project proposal. Fellowship staff will reach out to applicants should it be necessary to review these materials.

Note: Only applicants without internet access may send an application by post. An application form is available in the Download Files section. All others must apply online. For more information or technical difficulties with the online application form, please contact the Youth Exchange at [email protected].