The Open Society Foundations seek applicants for their Soros Equality Fellowship, which aims to support long-term leaders influencing the racial justice field. The fellowship award provides individuals with $100,000 to support the production of an innovative racial justice project over the course of 18 months.
We invite applicants to be innovative and audacious in their submissions. The aim of the fellowship is to incubate new ideas, promote risk-taking, and develop different ways of thinking that challenge and expand our existing assumptions. The proposed project must provide considerable value to the racial justice field and inspire new approaches to address issues of structural inequities and discrimination.
We encourage this year’s cohort to consider their project within the current social and political moment. We know toxic narratives, racialized anxiety, economic insecurity, and an outright assault on civil rights protections have reinforced divisions and the systems that perpetuate inequities. It is in this context that we ask applicants to place their project and explain how and why their project is necessary to counter these threats and move toward a new and inclusive multiracial democracy.
An entrepreneurial spirit guides Open Society’s approach to seemingly intractable problems like structural racism and xenophobia. Through this fellowship, we aim to provide promising leaders with the support they need to more effectively combat racism in all its forms. We seek a diverse and dynamic cohort of applicants, including but not limited to activists, lawyers, artists, journalists, and organizers with unique perspectives, to produce projects with meaningful impact.
Fellowship Term and Time Commitment
Applicants must be able to devote at least 35 hours per week to the project if awarded a fellowship; and the project must be the applicant’s only full-time work during the course of the fellowship. Fellows cannot be full-time students during their fellowship. In addition, if awarded a fellowship, applicants must be available to attend a set of activities during the fellowship term: New Fellows Orientation in New York (tentatively set for July 2020); the Soros Equality Fellowship retreat (tentatively set for fall of 2020); fellowship class network calls; and a Rockwood Leadership Institute training. Exact dates and locations will be confirmed upon fellowship selection.
Projects Based Outside the United States
Applicants may be based outside the United States, provided their work directly pertains to a U.S. racial justice issue and are able to demonstrate a proficiency in spoken and written English.
Up to two individuals can apply jointly for a Soros Equality Fellowship. However, joint applications will share a fellowship award of $100,000 over the 18 months. A joint application should be completed together as a single submission. For joint applicants, the full-time work requirement does not apply to each applicant. All other restrictions associated with an individual application still apply. Be sure to explain why this particular partnership is necessary to fulfill the objectives of the project and how responsibilities will be distributed.
Projects that include electioneering, lobbying, or other activity that does not fall within IRS 501(c)(3) guidelines will not be funded. Please carefully review the Tax Law Lobbying Rules before submitting an application. If awarded a fellowship, applicants are required to attend a training session on the tax law lobbying rules, conducted by the Open Society Foundations’ General Counsel’s Office; and must agree to refrain from engaging in restricted lobbying and political activities during the term of the fellowship.
The program does not fund the following:
- enrollment for degree or non-degree study at academic institutions, including dissertation research
- projects that address racial justice issues outside the United States (applicants themselves, however, can be based outside the United States, as long as their work directly relates to a U.S. issue)
- projects that serve as proxy for an organizational grant
- lobbying or political activities
There are three stages to the application and selection process. First, all applicants must submit a full and completed application by the deadline of February 13, 2020.
Second, each application will be reviewed for critical need, competitiveness, ability to influence the racial justice field, innovation, and the leadership qualities of the applicant. Applications will be evaluated on the extent to which the applicant possesses the vision, drive, and skills needed to broaden understanding, spur debate, or catalyze change on the issues at the heart of the Open Society Foundations’ racial justice priorities. We will then select a group of finalists who will be invited to interview with a selection committee consisting of Open Society Foundations staff and outside social justice experts in New York City.
Finally, after each finalist is interviewed, we will select up to 15 individuals to receive fellowship awards.
Completed proposals are due February 13, 2020 (11:59 p.m. EST), and must be submitted online.
Download the complete guidelines and application.
Download the project budget template.
Download a list of frequently asked questions.