The Soros Justice Fellowships fund outstanding individuals to undertake projects that advance reform, spur debate, and catalyze change on a range of issues facing the U.S. criminal justice system. The Fellowships Program is part of a larger effort within the Open Society Foundations’ Justice Fund to reduce the destructive impact of current criminal justice policies on the lives of individuals, families, and communities in the United States by challenging the overreliance on incarceration and extreme punishment, and ensuring a fair and accountable system of justice.
Fellows receive funding ($58,700–$110,250) through the following two categories:
The Soros Justice Fellowships Program’s Advocacy Fellowships fund lawyers, advocates, grassroots organizers, researchers, and others with unique perspectives to undertake full-time criminal justice reform projects at the local, state, and national levels. Projects may range from litigation to public education to coalition-building to grassroots mobilization to policy-driven research. Advocacy Fellowships are 18 months in duration, may be undertaken in conjunction with a host organization, and can begin in the spring or fall of 2016.
The Soros Justice Fellowships Program’s Media Fellowships support writers, print and broadcast journalists, bloggers, filmmakers, and other individuals with distinctive voices proposing to complete media projects that engage and inform, spur debate and conversation, and catalyze change on important U.S. criminal justice issues. The Media Fellowships aim to mitigate the time, space, and market constraints that often discourage individuals from pursuing vital but marginalized, controversial, or unpopular topics in comprehensive and creative ways. Media Fellowships are 12 months in duration, and fellows are expected to make their projects their full-time work during the term of the fellowship. Projects can begin in either the spring or fall of 2016.
All projects must, at a minimum, relate to one or more of the Justice Fund’s broad U.S. criminal justice reform goals: reducing mass incarceration, challenging extreme punishment, and promoting justice system accountability. Please carefully review the complete guidelines for more details on the specific requirements for each category of fellowships.
We strongly encourage applications for projects that demonstrate a clear understanding of the intersection of criminal justice issues with the particular needs of low-income communities, communities of color, immigrants, LGBTQ people, women and children, and those otherwise disproportionately affected by harsh criminal justice policies; as well as applications for projects that cut across various criminal justice fields and related sectors, such as education, health and mental health, housing, and employment.
Also, we in particular welcome applications from individuals directly affected by, or with significant direct personal experience with, the policies, practices, and systems their projects seek to address (e.g., applicants who have themselves been incarcerated, applicants who have a family member or loved one who has been incarcerated and whose fellowship project emerges from that experience).
The program does NOT fund the following:
- enrollment for degree or nondegree study at academic institutions, including dissertation research
- projects that address criminal justice issues outside the United States (applicants themselves, however, can be based outside the United States, provided their work directly pertains to a U.S. issue)
- past recipients of a Soros Justice Fellowship
- lobbying activities
Download and review the complete guidelines. Completed applications must be submitted online at sorosjusticefellowships.submittable.com/submit (the online system will begin accepting applications on August 11, 2015).
Applicants who are uncertain whether some aspect of their proposed project fits within the parameters of the Fellowships Program guidelines or whether the project is otherwise likely to be of interest to the program may submit an email inquiry before proceeding with the full application. The email should provide a brief (no more than 500 words) description of the proposed project, as well as some background information on the applicant, and should be sent to: [email protected]. Please do not submit an email inquiry before reviewing the appropriate documents.