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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 ($58,700–$110,250) primarily through the following two categories:

Advocacy Fellowships

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 in the spring or fall of 2017.

Media Fellowships

The Soros Justice Media Fellowships support writers, print and broadcast journalists, bloggers, 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 in either the spring or fall of 2017.

Youth Activist Fellowships

The Soros Justice Youth Activist Fellowships will 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 can be either 12 or 18 months in duration and must be undertaken in partnership with a host organization. Projects can be full-time or part-time, and can begin anytime between May and November 2017. Youth Activist Fellowships come with an award of $60,000 for full-time, 18-month projects (award pro-rated for part-time or 12-month projects), as well as access to a range of training and professional development opportunities.

Eligibility Criteria
All projects must, at a minimum, relate to one or more of the following U.S. criminal justice reform goals: reducing mass incarceration, 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.

Also, we in particular 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).

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