Foundation / Corporation
Open Society Foundations
12/06/17 11:59 PM EST Receipt
Fellowships of $58,000 and fellowships of $80,000 to USA writers, filmmakers, journalists, and other media professionals for projects that reform, advance, catalyze, and spur debate on issues related to the criminal justice system. The goal of this program is to mitigate the space, time, and market constraints that often discourage individuals from pursuing vital but marginalized, controversial, or unpopular topics in comprehensive and creative ways.
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 over reliance on incarceration and extreme punishment, and ensuring a fair and accountable system of justice.
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, and promoting fairness and accountability in our systems of justice.
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, 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.
The Foundation will consider projects that focus on one or more of its broad criminal justice reform goals: reducing the number of people who are incarcerated or under correctional control, challenging extreme punishment, and promoting fairness and accountability in the justice system in the United States. In the Foundation’s view, there are a number of issues that relate in important ways to these broad goals — for example, the extremely long prison terms that have become the accepted norm as a response to serious and violent crimes; the punishment and harsh treatment of youth who come into conflict with the law; police unaccountability; prosecutors’ orientation toward harsh charging and sentencing practices; and draconian responses to drug use.
However, for the fellowships, the Foundation does not have a defined list of topics or issues that it will consider. Instead, the Foundation expects applicants themselves to make the case that their projects have the potential to contribute something valuable to the debate and discussions around mass incarceration, extreme punishment, and fairness and accountability in the justice system. In this way, the fellowships are designed to be flexible and open — a space for projects that build effectively on work that has come before, that explore new and creative ways of doing things, that take risks, that offer new insights and perspectives, and that teach audiences about what they don’t know but should.
Types of Media:
The Foundation will consider a wide range of media projects and products, including but not limited to: print and broadcast journalism, documentary films, books, digital media, as well as projects that utilize a mix of platforms or mediums. The Foundation neither requires nor expects Media projects to reflect or endorse a particular viewpoint or position on any policy or practice that relates to criminal justice reform goals; and accommodate a wide range of perspectives and professional orientations to the issues that are the subject matter of applicants’ work. The Foundation will consider work that remains decidedly neutral, as well as work that explicitly seeks to achieve or otherwise contribute to particular advocacy objectives. The overriding consideration is whether the project is likely to engage and inform, spur debate and conversation, or catalyze change.
The Foundation recognizes that criminal justice issues are exceptionally complex and involve an array of interrelated social, economic, political, and historical dynamics. The Foundation therefore encourages applications 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. The Foundation also welcomes projects that cut across various criminal justice fields and related sectors, such as education, health and mental health, housing, and employment.
Directly Affected Individuals:
The Foundation in particular welcomes applications from individuals directly affected by, or with significant direct personal experience with, the policies, practices, and systems their projects seek to address. This includes, but is not limited to, 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; and applicants who are survivors of violence and crime. It also includes people with deep ties and connections to the communities or constituencies that are the focus of their projects.
Proposed Project Deliverables:
Applicants must propose deliverables or work product that reflect a year’s worth of full-time work. The Foundation leaves it up to each applicant to determine the scope of the project deliverables and to make a convincing case that the work is sufficiently ambitious. However, in all cases, deliverables must aim to reach audiences during the term of the fellowship itself, i.e. the Foundation will not support projects that involve only research, planning, or other activities that simply “lay the groundwork.”
Additional Requirements for Book and Documentary Film/Video:
Book projects must either have a publisher in advance of applying for the fellowship or demonstrate strong interest from publishers; and must include plans, during the term of the fellowship itself, to publish, broadcast, lecture, or otherwise reach audiences around work related to the subject matter of the book.
Documentary film or video projects must be in post-production or distribution stages; and must primarily seek support for the promotion, outreach, and audience engagement plan associated with the film/video. Research and pre-production film or video proposals are not eligible.
GrantWatch ID#: 161096
The award for Media Track I is $58,000, plus project-related expenses. The award for Media Track II is $80,000, plus project-related expenses.
Fellowships are 12 months in duration and can begin anytime between July and November 2018. 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.
The Foundation 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).
Applicants are ideally full-time writers, print or broadcast journalists, filmmakers, artists, or other media makers, with well-established records of publication, exhibition/performance, dissemination, or broadcast in local, regional or national markets, or among targeted audiences or constituencies. Applicants who are not professional writers, journalists, filmmakers, or other types of media makers must demonstrate that they nonetheless have the experience and capacity to accomplish the project.
Media Track I applicants must have at least two (2) years of relevant full-time experience. Media Track II applicants must have a minimum of ten (10) years of relevant full-time experience. Applicants with fewer than 10 years of relevant full-time experience may nonetheless be considered for a Media Track II fellowship, provided they can demonstrate that they have truly distinguished themselves over the course of their careers.
All applicants must have at least a high school diploma or its equivalent.
Up to three (3) individuals can apply jointly for a Media Fellowship. However, joint applications carry a single award. For joint applicants, the “full-time work” requirement does not apply to each applicant; instead, the applicants’ combined time spent on the project must be at least 35 hours per week (see “Time Commitment” above).
Unlike for the Advocacy Fellowships, Media Fellowship applicants do not have host organizations. While applicants are welcome to explain any relationships or collaborations they may have with specific entities, networks or organizations, the expectation is that Media Fellowship applicants will be operating without any formal connection to an existing organization.
Enrollment in an Academic Institution:
The fellowships do not fund enrollment for degree or non-degree study at academic institutions, including dissertation research. Also fellows cannot be full-time students during their fellowships.
Past Soros Justice Fellowship Recipients:
Past recipients of a Soros Justice Fellowship are not eligible to apply.
Projects Based Outside the United States:
Applicants may be based outside the United States, as long as their work directly relates to a U.S. criminal justice issue.
Projects that include lobbying activities will not be funded. Please carefully review the Tax Law Lobbying Rules (see Supporting Documents below) before submitting an application. If awarded a fellowship, applicants must agree to refrain from engaging in restricted lobbying activities during the term of the fellowship.
The fellowships do NOT fund the following:
-Enrollment for degree or nondegree study at academic institutions, including dissertation research
-Projects that address criminal 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)
Applicants who are uncertain whether some aspect of their proposed project fits within the parameters of the fellowships guidelines or whether the project is otherwise likely to be of interest may submit an email inquiry. The email should provide a brief (no more than 200 words) description of the proposed project, as well as some background information on the applicant
The Foundation will do its best to respond to all email inquiries within a week of their receipt. Those who submit email inquiries but do not receive a timely response will have to make their own determination of whether the proposed project fits within the guidelines.
An email inquiry does not constitute an application. To apply, individuals must submit a Letter of Intent, resume or bio, and work sample via the online application system.
There are four stages to the application and selection process. First, all applicants must submit a brief Letter of Intent (LOI), a resume or bio, and a work sample.
Second, from the pool of initial LOIs, the Foundation will select a smaller number who’ll be invited to submit a full proposal.
Third, from the pool of full proposals, the Foundation will select a group of finalists, who will be invited to interview with a selection committee consisting of Open Society Foundations staff and outside experts.
Finally, from the pool of finalists, the Foundation will select 12-15 individuals to receive fellowships (this final number of fellowships — which is contingent on availability of funding — will be a mix of both Media, Advocacy and Youth Activist Fellowships).
The Foundation reserves the right, at any stage of the application and selection process, to request that an applicant be considered for a fellowship category (Advocacy, Media, Youth Activist) or track (Track I, Track II) different from the one for which the applicant applied.
Application and Selection Timeline
-Letters of Intent Due: December 6, 2017 (11:59 PM EST)
-Full Proposals Invited: Late-January 2018 (all applicants will be notified via email whether they have been selected to submit a full proposal)
-Full Proposals Due: Late-February 2018
-Finalists Notified: Early-March 2018
-Finalist Interviews: Late-March 2018 (all finalist interviews will be held on the same day, to be determined, at the Open Society Foundations offices in New York City)
-Selected Fellows Notified: Mid-April 2018
-Projects Begin: Anytime between July and November 2018
Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.
Open Society Foundations
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