The Open Society Foundations has announced the inaugural recipients of the Soros Equality Fellowship, a new initiative designed to help emerging mid-career professionals become long-term leaders in the field of racial justice.
Through the program, OSF will support innovators and risk-takers striving to create and develop new ways of addressing the challenges of racial disparity and discrimination in the United States. In addition to nurturing their specific projects, the program will provide fellows with leadership development training, networking opportunities, and other professional support aimed at connecting their energy and ideas with the wisdom of experience.
Chosen from more than a thousand applicants representing a diverse array of professions — from the arts and advocacy to journalism and documentary filmmaking — the 2017 Soros Equality Fellows will receive stipends ranging from $80,000 to $100,000 over twelve to eighteen months in support of their work to advance racial justice. This year's fellows include Alice Hom, who will use her award to create a digital archive of oral histories of queer and trans people of color; Leah Penniman, who will train farm activists of color in strategies designed to advance structural advocacy in the food system, with a focus on farmworker rights; David Felix Sutcliffe, who will produce a documentary musical that examines mainstream media's role in spreading Islamophobia; and Hank Willis Thomas, who will use contemporary advertising agency tools to create a campaign aimed at exploring and discrediting distortions in the racial narrative of the United States.
"We are living in a time of enormous challenge, when forces peddling fear and hate are pushing ever harder to normalize xenophobia and racism," said Leslie Gross-Davis, director of the equality team within the U.S. Programs division at OSF. "While the magnitude of the challenge is daunting, the inaugural class of Soros Equality Fellows gives me hope for the future. Their energy, creativity, and determination to tackle even the longest odds are an inspiration. The Open Society Foundations is honored to have the opportunity to support this amazing cohort of next-generation racial justice leaders."
For a complete list of 2017 Soros Equality Fellows, see the OSF website.