Soros Justice Fellowships
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 are part of a larger effort within the Open Society Foundations 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 through the following three categories:
The Soros Justice 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 with the support of a host organization, and can begin anytime between July and November 2020. Advocacy Fellowships come with an award of either $94,500 or $127,500 (depending on level of experience) for the 18 months.
The Soros Justice Media Fellowships support writers, print and broadcast journalists, artists, 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 anytime between July and November 2020. Media Fellowships come with an award of either $63,000 or $85,000 (depending on level of experience) for the 12 months. Up to three people can apply jointly for a single Media Fellowship, but joint applications carry a single award.
Youth Activist Fellowships
The Soros Justice Youth Activist Fellowships, in partnership with the Open Society Youth Exchange, support outstanding individuals aged 18 to 25 to take on projects of their own design that address some aspect of the U.S. criminal justice system. Projects can range from public education and training to grassroots organizing and policy advocacy to social media campaigns and other forms of creative communications. Youth Activist Fellowships must be undertaken in partnership with a host organization. Projects can be full-time or part-time, 12 or 18 months, and can begin anytime between July and November 2020. Youth Activist Fellowships come with an award of $57,500 for full-time, 18-month projects (the award is pro-rated for part-time or 12-month projects).
All projects must, at a minimum, relate to one or more of the following U.S. criminal justice reform goals: reducing the number of people who are incarcerated or under correctional control, challenging extreme punishment, and promoting fairness and accountability in our systems of justice. 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.
We especially 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, or applicants who are survivors of violence or crime).
The fellowships do 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—with the exception of Youth Activist Fellowship applicants—can be based outside the United States, as long as their work directly relates to a U.S. issue)
- lobbying activities
Those interested in the fellowships should first download and review the complete fellowships guidelines and application before submitting an application. Full applications are due on November 20, 2019 (11:59 p.m. PST).
Applications for all of the fellowship categories described above must be submitted online through the application portal. The portal will be open on November 1.
Two important notes regarding the portal: (1) when you register, please be sure to click on “Individual Grants” and not “Organizational Grants” (even if you are applying with a host organization); (2) once registered, please do not fill out the information for the “Bank Accounts,” “Academic History,” and “Work Experience” tabs in your user Profile.Apply Online
Applicants who are uncertain whether some aspect of their proposed project fits within the parameters of the guidelines or whether the project is otherwise likely to be of interest may submit an email inquiry. The email should provide a brief (no more than 200 words) description of the proposed project, as well as some background information on the applicant, and should be sent to email@example.com. Please do not submit an email inquiry before reviewing the appropriate fellowship’s guidelines.
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Malcolm Young2010The economic downturn has made it even more difficult for people returning from prison to secure employment. Young's project aims to increase job opportunities for formerly incarcerated people.
Manuel Criollo2010Criollo will spearhead an effort to challenge policies that represent an increasingly punitive approach toward Black and Latino youth.
Marie Claire Tran-Leung2010Tran-Leung will use the federal Fair Housing Act to challenge discrimination in the private rental housing market against people with criminal records.
Raj Jayadev2010Jayadev will develop an action network within communities most targeted by the justice system to provide information, advice, and support for people entering the criminal court process.
Renee Feltz2010Journalist Renee Feltz (along with Soros Justice Fellow Stokely Baksh) will produce a multimedia investigative report to examine Immigration and Customs Enforcement s Operation Secure Communities.
Ronald Chatters III2010Chatters will advocate on behalf of the thousands of people with disabilities who leave Los Angeles jails every year.
Stokely Baksh2010Baksh (along with Soros Justice Fellow Renee Feltz) will produce a multimedia investigative report to examine Immigration and Customs Enforcement s "Operation Secure Communities" program.
William Collins2010Collins will examine and challenge how racial and ethnic minorities are purged from Louisiana capital juries.
Zachary Norris2010Norris will create the Justice for Families Alliance, a national effort to organize and support families of incarcerated youth.
Justice Rivera2019Justice Rivera will write a book illustrating how the war on sex trafficking is a continuation of the war on drugs.
Kris Henderson2019Kris Henderson will develop a transformative justice training program focused on trauma and healing.
Pamela Winn2019Pamela Winn will create a comprehensive wellness, rehabilitation, and leadership program for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women in the Southern United States.
Richard Wallace2019Richard Wallace will work to build social and economic equity for Black Chicagoans engaged in the informal economy.
Sebastian Margaret2019Sebastian Margaret will launch The Disability Project to develop movement-wide commitments to anti-ableism and to magnify the leadership, collective power, and visibility of LGBTQ disabled, deaf, and ill constituents.
Theresa Smith2019Theresa Smith will build a statewide network of families impacted by police violence.
Tonja Honsey2019Tonja Honsey will launch We Rise! Leadership Circles to create a movement of formerly incarcerated mothers in Minnesota.
Yessica Gonzalez Rodriguez2019Yessica Gonzalez Rodriguez will work to end the practice of holding transgender and gender nonconforming people in immigration detention centers.
Anthony Robles2018Anthony Robles will develop an interactive website that documents the stories of people who had fatal encounters with police in Los Angeles.