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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 justice 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 2023.

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

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, Black, Indigenous, and people of color communities, 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).

Ineligibility Criteria

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 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 November 18, 2022.

Apply Here

Download Files

Download the complete guidelines.

Download the cover page and proposal.

Download our tax lobbying rules.

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