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Soros Justice Fellowships


Open Society-U.S.’s 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 legal system.


The Soros Justice Fellowships support outstanding individuals—including lawyers, advocates, grassroots organizers, writers, print and broadcast journalists, artists, filmmakers, and other individuals with distinctive voices—to undertake full-time projects that engage and inform, spur debate and conversation, change policy or practice, and catalyze change around the U.S. criminal legal system at the local, state, and national levels. Fellowships can be either 12 or 18 months in duration, may be undertaken with the support of a host organization, and should begin in the fall of 2024.

There are two fellowship tracks: Track I, which is for people at the earlier stages of their careers and who demonstrate the potential to develop into leaders and important voices in their respective fields; and Track II, which is for more experienced individuals with a proven record of achievement and expertise.

Track I comes with a grant of $100,000 over 18 months and Track II comes with a grant of $140,000 over 18 months (grants for both tracks are prorated for 12-month projects).

Through the Soros Justice Fellowships and our partner fellowships within Open Society-U.S.—the Soros Equality Fellowship and the Leadership in Government Fellowship—the Open Society Foundations aim to provide a network of leaders with the resources to effectively address injustice and inequality, and the space to imagine a more just and equitable future. Given the overlapping goals and strategies across the different fellowships, we may, with applicants’ permission, refer applicants to other fellowship programs within Open Society-U.S. should they be deemed a better fit (all three fellowship programs have the same application deadline and roughly the same selection timeline). Applicants, however, cannot apply to more than one fellowship program.

Eligibility Criteria

The Soros Justice Fellowships will consider projects that focus on any aspect of the U.S. criminal legal system—which we broadly see as a set of institutions and actors (law enforcement, courts, prosecutors, and corrections) and a related set of policies, practices, narratives, and orientations that exert coercive control over individuals and communities in this country.  

We are keenly interested in projects that address the current social, political, and ecological moment and that contribute to efforts to build a truly inclusive, multi-racial democracy.  We also encourage applications that demonstrate a clear understanding of how the criminal legal system intersects and interacts with the needs of low-income communities; Black, Indigenous, and people of color communities; immigrants; LGBTQ people; women and children; and those otherwise disproportionately affected by harsh or unfair criminal legal system policies and practices.  

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).

Ineligibility Criteria

The fellowships do not fund the following:

  • enrollment for degree or nondegree study at academic institutions, including dissertation research
  • projects that do not have a meaningful connection to a U.S. criminal legal system issue (applicants themselves can be based outside the United States and projects can have a global focus or perspective, as long as the work has a meaningful connection to a U.S. issue)
  • lobbying activities


Applications must be submitted online via the application portal, which can be accessed here starting on November 27, 2023.

Apply Here

Download Files

Download the complete guidelines.

Download the cover page and proposal.

Download our tax lobbying rules.

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