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 and 12 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, 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—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 8, 2022.
Download the complete guidelines.
Download the complete guidelines.
Download the complete guidelines.
Download our tax lobbying rules.
Andrea James2015Andrea James will create a national network of formerly incarcerated women who will raise the level of dialogue about how incarceration impacts women, their children, and their communities.
Anne Parsons2015Anne Parsons will write a book that explores how the deinstitutionalization of mental hospitals intersected with the rise of mass incarceration.
Chanravy Proeung2015Chanravy Proeung will mobilize Southeast Asian communities to combat racial profiling and police brutality.
Dorothy Johnson-Speight2015Dorothy Johnson-Speight will mobilize women who are impacted by homicide and who seek changes to our overly punitive responses to violence and crime.
Eddy Zheng2015Eddy Zheng will raise awareness about the impact of criminalization and deportation on the Asian and Pacific Islander community.
Erica Meiners2015Judith Levine and Erica Meiners will write a series of articles that aim to deepen understanding and spur conversation about sex laws, “sex offender” management, and the people they affect.
Galen Baughman2015Galen Baughman will work to end the indefinite detention of young people in Virginia who are branded by the state as irredeemably dangerous “sexually violent predators.”
Judith Levine2015Judith Levine and Erica Meiners will write a series of articles that aim to deepen understanding and spur conversation about sex laws, “sex offender” management, and the people they affect.
Maia Szalavitz2015Maia Szalavitz will write a book to spur a more humane and effective drug policy by showing that addiction is a learning disorder, as opposed to simply a brain disease or criminal choice.