Human Rights Advocates Program - Columbia University

The Human Rights Advocates Program (HRAP) is a capacity building program designed to strengthen the skills, knowledge, and networks of proven human rights defenders at the grassroots level. Applicants from high-income countries will not be considered except for those representing marginalized communities.
Founded in 1989, HRAP leverages the resources of Columbia University and those offered by New York City as a center of NGOs and international organizations to provide proven grassroots leaders with critical skills-building and networking opportunities. Through workshops, seminars, participation in University classes and other activities as well as meetings with policy makers and potential funders, Advocates share their experiences, reflect critically on their strategies, and plan future campaigns. More than 260 advocates from over 80 countries have participated in this program since 1989. The cumulative reach of HRAP participants is extraordinary: alumni have worked with organizations whose memberships range from the thousands to the millions.
HRAP is fortunate to partner with numerous advocacy organizations to offer a full curriculum of training opportunities. That organizations such as Human Rights Watch and WITNESS commit resources to working with HRAP is indicative of both their respect for the Advocates and the Program and of the benefits they feel they themselves derive from such participation.

Program Focus

HRAP focuses both on strengthening the skills of the individual Advocates and providing the tools for them to build sustainable organizations that advocate for disadvantaged peoples.

Strategy

To meet HRAP’s goals, Advocates are expected to participate fully in the offerings provided by HRAP, including:
  • Skills workshops on advocacy planning and strategies, fundraising, press and media, and building sustainable organizations;
  • Columbia University courses on human rights, public health, the environment, development, and labor rights;
  • Meetings and networking opportunities with NGO staff, activists, policymakers, representatives of international institutions, and academics.

Timing and Commitment

The appyear HRAP will begin in the latter half of August and run until mid-December appyear. To be considered, participants must commit to full preparation for and complete engagement in the Program. Participants must be committed to returning home for at least two full years after the Program ends.

About the Institute for the Study of Human Rights

Since its establishment at Columbia University in 1978, the Institute for the Study of Human Rights (ISHR) has been committed to its core goals of providing human rights education to Columbia students, fostering innovative interdisciplinary academic research, and offering its expertise in international capacity building to human rights leaders and organizations.
ISHR actively works to ensure that local peoples and human rights advocates are included in the political and economic policy decisions that affect their lives.
By convening faculty, students, and human rights leaders from a wide variety of backgrounds, ISHR creates an environment in which research, education, and international outreach contribute to the establishment of a more just and equitable world.

Admissions Information

Selection of Participants

The Program is designed for lawyers, journalists, doctors, teachers, social workers, community organizers, and other human rights activists working with NGOs on issues including sexual and gender-based violence, domestic violence, minority rights, LGBT rights, labor rights, migration, health, social exclusion, environmental justice, and corporate social accountability.

Participants are selected on the basis of their previous work experience in human rights, commitment to the human rights field, and demonstrated ability to pursue graduate-level studies. Full-time students or government officials will not be considered. Applicants holding full or part-time jobs pursuing their advocacy efforts are preferred. 

Advocates must work at the grassroots level. Applicants from high-income countries will not be considered except for those representing marginalized communities. See the FAQ for more information about this requirement. Fluency in English is required. Preference is given to those who have not previously had opportunities to travel and study internationally. 

Advocates must provide proof of institutional endorsement from their organizations for their participation in the Program and must commit to returning to that organization upon completion of the Program. Only one application per organization should be submitted. More than one application means all applications from that organization will be disqualified. It is up to the applicant to make sure he/she is the sole applicant from his/her organization.

Funding

ISHR makes every effort to provide full fellowships to cover program costs as well as travel and housing. A reasonable stipend is also provided to cover basic costs. ISHR staff will work with interested candidates who have been wait listed for the Program to identify potential funding sources in cases where ISHR has not secured the resources to provide a full fellowship.

Application Deadline

Completed applications are due by 11:59pm GMT on Friday, November 1, 2013. The completed application must be submitted online by the deadline. Applicants should take into consideration technical issues and begin the process in advance of the deadline. The online application system will automatically close as of this deadline.

Technical Questions and Application Help

Due to the number of applications we receive, we are not able to answer application questions personally. A Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page is available with answers to commonly asked questions. Please email further questions to hradvocates@columbia.edu. Answers to these questions will be added as updates to the FAQ page on August 16, September 13, October 11, and October 25. To receive an answer by one of these deadlines, please be certain to send questions at least one full day in advance. Please note that the last day to request technical assistance will be Thursday, October 24. ISHR strongly recommends completing your application well in advance of this date. We will not be able to accept late applications, even in the event of technical problems.

Application Accessibility

Columbia University aims to make all websites fully accessible to users with disabilities. If you experience difficulty using this page, please contact hradvocates@columbia.edu.

Application Instructions

Applicants are asked to complete the application in its entirety. Please complete all sections in English. Please follow all instructions, including those sent to your email address.
Upon submission of a completed application, a confirmation will be sent to the applicant. Applicants may also login to the online application to view their submitted applications. As stated in the application, the submission of applications is final. A submitted application cannot be altered or appended.

Supporting Documentation

Recommendation letters must be in English and must be signed. Unsigned letters will not be accepted and your entire application will be removed from consideration.
If you have cooperated with an international organization, you must obtain a reference letter from someone you worked with at that organization.
If you know someone at Columbia University, you must give their name and the nature of your relationship.

Application Status Notification

Applicants will be notified in June 2014 of their status. Please be patient as the selection and funding processes are lengthy.

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