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.
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).
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 the complete guidelines.
Download the cover page and proposal.
Download our tax lobbying rules.
Ashley Torres Carrasquillo2021Ashley Torres Carrasquillo will establish a project that seeks to counter the levels of violence and poverty experienced by mainly Black, disabled, and LGBTQ+ youth in public housing in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Carlos Alejandro Bracamontes Norzagaray2021Carlos Alejandro Bracamontes Norzagaray will empower members of the refugee community to become fully-accredited Department of Justice representatives and provide free representation in immigration proceedings in the Boston area.
Cloee Cooper2021Cloee Cooper will develop a deeply reported podcast on how communities are impacted by far-right and paramilitary-aligned sheriffs.
Contessa Gayles2021Contessa Gayles and Richie Reseda will create LIFE + LIFE, a documentary and visual album that explores the ways in which this country’s notion of punishment as justice perpetuates cycles of harm.
Emily Tucker2021Emily Tucker will educate the public about the harm caused by replacing mass incarceration with mass surveillance, and support efforts to challenge the negative impacts of mass surveillance on peoples’ lives.
Kilroy Watkins2021Kilroy Watkins will create an initiative to support survivors of police torture and long-term incarceration in their efforts to productively make their way into free society.
Lam Thuy Vo2021Lam Thuy Vo will write articles that explore the nexus between gentrification and overpolicing, each centered around characters and communities whose stories are contextualized through data-and documents-driven research.
Leidy Perez-Davis2021Leidy Perez-Davis will help elevate the voices of a network led by asylum seekers and support members to collectively identify the best methods to end the punitive practices and incarceration of asylum seekers.
Lis-Marie Alvarado2021Lis-Marie Alvarado will use arts-based organizing and cultural healing to work with unaccompanied immigrant children from Central America harmed by detention.
Arti Walker-Peddakotla2022Arti Walker-Peddakotla will create tools through an abolitionist framework that work to defund the police and reinvest funds back into the community.
Chris Watts2022Chris Watts will create art that will spur debate around police surveillance and its harm on our society.
Christina Hollenback2022Christina Hollenback will build investment vehicles for capital investors to invest in community-controlled public safety and vital infrastructure and stop prison financing.
Emile DeWeaver2022Emile DeWeaver will write a book titled Ghost in the Prison Industrial Machine that examines the norms that undermine the movement to end racial oppression in the criminal legal system and offer counter narratives and strategies.
Ifetayo Harvey2022Ifetayo Harvey will build upon and create a social justice–oriented space for people of color interested in the healing potentials of psychedelics and ending the war on drugs.
Irene Franco Rubio2022Irene Franco Rubio and Katherine Owojori will explore the incarceration and criminalization of young people of color and our public school system through a #SchoolsNotPrisons podcast, YouTube series, and other media.
Kate Uyeda2022Kate Uyeda will work to ensure those detained in jails in Tennessee and elsewhere can exercise their right to vote.
Katherine Owojori2022Katherine Owojori and will Irene Franco Rubio explore the incarceration and criminalization of young people of color and our public school system through a #SchoolsNotPrisons podcast, YouTube series, and other media.
Kerwin Pittman2022Kerwin Pittman will develop a toolkit that will empower people directly impacted by incarceration to dismantle racism in North Carolina’s criminal justice system.