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 and may be undertaken with the support of a host organization. Advocacy Fellowships come with an award that ranges between $94,500 and $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. Media Fellowships come with an award that ranges between $63,000 and $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 and12 or 18 months in duration. 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, LGBTI 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
Applications must be submitted online via the application portal, which can be accessed here starting on February 1, 2021.
Download the complete guidelines.
Download the complete guidelines.
Download the complete guidelines.
Download our tax lobbying rules.
Nick August-Perna2016Thomas Lennon and Nick August-Perna will complete a documentary film examining the human dimension of life after prison and the healing power of good food.
Reyna Montoya2016Reyna Montoya will organize people directly affected by the immigration detention system.
Ryan Lo2016Ryan Lo will use digital media storytelling as a way to change the narrative about people returning from prison and to help support efforts to reform the criminal justice system.
Steven Czifra2016Steven Czifra will help formerly incarcerated community college students reach their full academic and professional potential by creating a pathway for admission to the University of California, Berkeley.
Teresa Hodge2016Teresa Hodge will launch a campaign to promote tech education and opportunities for people returning from prison and to close the digital divide compounded by incarceration.
Thomas Lennon2016Thomas Lennon and Nick August-Perna will complete a documentary film examining the human dimension of life after prison and the healing power of good food.
Maria Mari-Narváez2020Maria Mari-Narváez will document and combat state violence in Puerto Rico.
Marilyn Lee2020Marilyn Lee will promote beekeeping as a way for formerly and currently incarcerated women and men to achieve financial security, independence, and stability.
Phal Sok2020Phal Sok will create an action-oriented, community-based toolkit that explains the history of immigration policy and its criminalization.
Shanita Hubbard2020Shanita Hubbard will develop a podcast series that explores the intersection between environmental racism and the prison industrial complex.
Siwatu-Salama Ra2020Siwatu-Salama Ra will draw upon the leadership of formerly incarcerated people to build bridges between and power within the environmental and climate justice movements and the prison abolition and defund police movements.
Tamisha Walker2020Tamisha Walker will research current and past movements for mass liberation to help inform current and future efforts to advocate for social change.
Toya Lewis2020Toya Lewis will help build a network of informal workers to resist and combat their criminalization and promote their collective prosperity.
Wakumi Douglas2020Wakumi Douglas will examine and promote cutting edge healing justice trends, and tools within the existing movement, to end mass incarceration.
Waleisah Wilson2020Waleisah Wilson will mobilize differently-abled people in the U.S. South who have been directly impacted by arrest, conviction, incarceration, probation, or parole.