Soros Equality Fellowship
The Soros Equality Fellowship seeks to support individual leaders influencing and transforming the racial justice field. We understand the unique role an individual can play in rejecting old paradigms and presenting a new vision for the United States we hope to become. We invite applicants to be bold, innovative, and audacious in their submissions. The aim of the Fellowship is to be flexible and open—a space to incubate new ideas, promote risk-taking, and develop different ways of thinking that challenge and expand our existing assumptions. A successful project should identify a challenge and propose a critical intervention that will meaningfully address the systems that reinforce inequities and discrimination in the United States.
Over the last year, Open Society Foundations has affirmed our long history supporting racial justice efforts through a new, significant financial and strategic commitment to the field with the goal of building long-term power in communities of color. Through this Fellowship, Open Society aims to provide a network of leaders, representing the diversity of experiences, with the resources to address racial inequality and the space they need to imagine a more equitable future.
We are living in unprecedented times in the United States, where the issues of inequality have created a new racial reckoning to address issues of injustice. As such, we believe this year’s cohort should consider their project within the current social and political moment. We know toxic narratives, racialized anxiety, economic insecurity, and an ongoing health pandemic have reinforced divisions and the systems that perpetuate inequities. It is in this context that we ask applicants to place their project and explain how and why their project is necessary to counter these threats and move toward a more inclusive multiracial democracy.
Fellowship Term and Time Commitment
Applicants must be able to devote at least 35 hours per week to the project if awarded a Fellowship; and the project must be the applicant’s only full-time work during the course of the Fellowship.
Projects Based Outside the United States
Applicants may be based outside the United States, provided their work directly pertains to a U.S. racial justice issue and is able to demonstrate a proficiency in spoken and written English.
Up to two individuals can apply jointly for a Soros Equality Fellowship. However, joint applications will share one fellowship award. A joint application should be completed together as a single submission. For joint applicants, the “full-time work” requirement does not apply to each applicant. All other restrictions associated with an individual application still apply.
Projects that include electioneering, lobbying, or other activity that does not fall within IRS 501(c)(3) guidelines will not be funded. Please carefully review the Tax Law Lobbying Rules before submitting an application. If awarded a fellowship, applicants are required to attend a training session on the tax law lobbying rules, conducted by the Open Society Foundations’ General Counsel’s Office; and must agree to refrain from engaging in restricted lobbying and political activities during the term of the Fellowship.
The program does not fund the following:
- enrollment for degree or non-degree study at academic institutions, including dissertation research
- projects that address racial justice issues outside the United States (applicants themselves, however, can be based outside the United States, as long as their work directly relates to a U.S. issue)
- projects that serve as proxy for an organizational grant
- lobbying or political activities
There are three stages to the application and selection process. First, all applicants must submit a full and completed application by the deadline of February 11, 2021.Apply Online
Secondly, each application will be reviewed for critical need, competitiveness, ability to influence the racial justice field, innovation, and the leadership qualities of the applicant. Applications will be evaluated on the extent to which the applicant possesses the vision, drive, and skills needed to broaden understanding, spur debate, or catalyze change on the issues at the heart of the Open Society Foundations’ racial justice priorities. We will then select a group of finalists who will be invited to interview with a selection committee consisting of Open Society Foundations staff and outside social justice experts. Finally, after each finalist is interviewed, we will select up to 15 individuals to receive a Fellowship award.
Applicants who are uncertain about the parameters of the fellowship guidelines may submit a brief email inquiry to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please do not submit an email inquiry before reviewing the appropriate documents. Additional technical guidance for your submission can be found here.
Download the complete guidelines and application.
Download a list of frequently asked questions.
Alice Y. Hom2017Alice Y. Hom, will create a digital archive of oral histories of queer and trans people of color, designed to promote and share cross-generational stories of resistance and community organizing.
David Felix Sutcliffe2017David Felix Sutcliffe will produce a documentary musical examining the mainstream media’s role in spreading Islamophobia, and a series of short videos exploring the role of discrimination in current events.
Deepa Iyer2017Deepa Iyer will create a platform to provide racial justice organizations with resources to sharpen organizing and coalition building strategies, and promote solidarity across communities.
Hank Willis Thomas2017Hank Willis Thomas will use the tools of a contemporary advertising agency to create a campaign aimed at exploring and discrediting distortions in the racial narrative in the United States.
Leah Penniman2017Leah Penniman will train farm activists of color in strategies for addressing structural advocacy in the food system, with a particular focus on farmworker rights.
Purvi Shah2017Purvi Shah will create a hub to promote collaboration, coalition-building, and experimentation among lawyers working on racial justice issues.
Rachel L. Swarns2017Rachel Swarns will write a book exploring the role slavery played in the history of Georgetown University, and the impact of that chapter on the lives and descendants of the enslaved.
Anasa Troutman2020Anasa Troutman will develop and employ a cultural framework to shift the narrative and mechanics of local economies, specifically in African American communities in Southern cities.
Cliff Albright2020Cliff Albright will create a framework and an accompanying tool kit to help the racial justice movement better understand and measure power.
Daniel Gómez-Mazo2020Daniel Gómez-Mazo will develop a transnational network of activists focused on the use of legal mobilization for racial justice. This project will be co-created with Dayana Blanco Acendra.
Dayana Blanco Acendra2020Dayana Blanco Acendra will develop a transnational network of activists focused on the use of legal mobilization for racial justice. This project will be co-created with Daniel Gómez-Mazo.
Hisham Aidi2020Hisham Aidi will create a web documentary series and book project to study the rise of Afro-Arab and Amazigh migration and activism in the United States over the last 25 years.
Jeremie Greer2020Jeremie Greer will build “Liberation in a Generation,” a movement support project centering the economic liberation of people of color, so that, within one generation, the U.S. has an economy where all people of color belong and have equal opportunity.
Nausheen Dadabhoy2020Nausheen Dadabhoy will direct a feature-length documentary, titled An Act of Worship, which follows the lives of three Muslim women as they find their place in community activism at a time when Islamophobia is sharply on the rise.
Rev. Osagyefo Sekou2020Rev. Osagyefo Sekou will create an organizing hub to train and support organizers and religious communities working across social movements in Memphis, Tennessee, and the greater Mississippi Delta region.
Saru Jayaraman2020Saru Jayaraman will address income inequality through development of a new narrative rejecting the undervaluing of subminimum wage workers and demanding instead a full, fair minimum wage for all.