Open Society Foundations Invites Applications for Soros Justice Fellowships

The Open Society Foundations seeks 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.

To that end, OSF is inviting applications for its Soros Justice Fellowships. The program supports outstanding individuals poised to undertake a project that advances reform, spurs debate, and/or catalyzes change on a range of issues facing the U.S. criminal justice system. 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, or promoting fairness and accountability in our systems of justice. 

The foundation has identified the following three categories of fellowships:

Advocacy Fellowships — Grants of either $94,500 or $127,500 (depending on level of experience) over eighteen months will be awarded to 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 coalition building and grassroots mobilization, to policy-driven research.

Media Fellowships — Grants of either $63,000 or $85,000 (depending on level of experience) over twelve months will be awarded to 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.

Youth Activist Fellowships — In partnership with the Open Society Youth Exchange, the program will award $57,500 over eighteen months (the award is pro-rated for part-time or twelve-month projects) to individuals between the ages of 18 and 25 for 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.

The foundation strongly encourages 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. It especially welcomes 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).

See the Open Society Foundations website for complete program guidelines and application instructions.