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, may be undertaken with the support of a host organization, and can begin anytime between July and November 2020. Advocacy Fellowships come with an award of either $94,500 or $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. Projects can begin anytime between July and November 2020. Media Fellowships come with an award of either $63,000 or $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, 12 or 18 months, and can begin anytime between July and November 2020. 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, 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
Those interested in the fellowships should first download and review the complete fellowships guidelines and application before submitting an application. Full applications are due on November 20, 2019 (11:59 p.m. PST).
Applications for all of the fellowship categories described above must be submitted online through the application portal. The portal will be open on November 1.
Two important notes regarding the portal: (1) when you register, please be sure to click on “Individual Grants” and not “Organizational Grants” (even if you are applying with a host organization); (2) once registered, please do not fill out the information for the “Bank Accounts,” “Academic History,” and “Work Experience” tabs in your user Profile.Apply Online
Applicants who are uncertain whether some aspect of their proposed project fits within the parameters of the guidelines or whether the project is otherwise likely to be of interest may submit an email inquiry. The email should provide a brief (no more than 200 words) description of the proposed project, as well as some background information on the applicant, and should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please do not submit an email inquiry before reviewing the appropriate fellowship’s guidelines.
Download the complete guidelines.
Download the complete guidelines.
Download the complete guidelines.
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Brenda Kenneally2001Brenda Kenneally will illustrate through writing and photography the problematic nature of incarceration for victimless drug and drug-related crimes.
Emily Bolton2001Emily Bolton will expose errors and identify practical, system-wide adjustments to minimize wrongful convictions. The project works to reframe the debate over the importance of constitutional protections and advocate reform of a system that places...
Jan Goodwin2001Jan Goodwin will write a series of articles exploring restorative justice as a viable framework for the criminal justice system.
Jessy Fernandez2001Jessy Fernandez will launch the Community Education Project which seeks to educate poor communities of color about the nation's over-reliance on punishment and incarceration, and to support their participation and leadership in creating and...
Linda Evans2001Linda Evans will increase civic participation of former prisoners, launch a public education campaign highlighting the social, political, and economic obstacles faced by former prisoners and engage in policy advocacy on behalf of them.
Marlee Ford2001Marlee Ford will create a replicable, community-based, prevention-focused, holistic defender model that is effective at both reducing juvenile incarceration and increasing public safety.
Michelle Dillard2001Michelle Dillard will raise public awareness, develop an advocacy module and framework for the implementation of therapeutic interventions for children with incarcerated parents.
Peter Markowitz2001Peter Markowitz will establish an immigration defense project at a local community defender which ensures that criminal representation is sensitive to collateral immigration consequences and can serve as a model for defender organizations nation-wide.
Presita May2001Presita May will recruit community-based lawyers to represent people of color in custody; strengthen residents' links to state and local government decision-makers, and to increase and enhance communication between community residents and the police.
Bobby Tsow2019Bobby Tsow will challenge Oregon’s harsh treatment of young people who come into conflict with the law.
Bulmaro Vicente2019Bulmaro Vicente will develop mechanisms to hold the Santa Ana (California) Police Department accountable for police misconduct and deadly use of force.
CeCe McDonald2019CeCe McDonald will create a curriculum for grassroots education that builds community support and power for transgender women, particularly transgender women of color.
Christina Sorenson2019Christina Sorenson will address the need for accessible and responsive grievance for youth in institutional placements.
Christine Minhee2019Christine Minhee will track opioid litigation efforts nationally and develop ways to ensure accountability in the administration of opioid settlements.
Cynthia Greenlee2019Cynthia Greenlee will write a series of articles exploring the intersections between reproductive injustice and mass incarceration in the U.S. South.
Devon Simmons2019Devon Simmons will build a coalition of New York State advocates who will work to reimagine what community supervision looks like.
Imelme Umana2019ImeIme Umana will bring litigation challenging the constitutionality of diversion programs that use the threat of prosecution to prey on poor people accused of crimes.
Jarrell Daniels2019Jarrell Daniels will launch the Justice Ambassadors, a leadership development opportunity for system-impacted youth in New York City.