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Law For Black Lives is offering a 6-month fellowship for legal workers and lawyers to support work towards divestment from exploitative forces including prisons, police, surveillance and fossil fuels and investment in long term community based strategies for safe, sustainable communities. Fellows receive funding, training and community to turn their ideas into a reality and help build the necessary infrastructure to support transformative social change.

Over the last generation, the United States has dramatically increased spending on policing and incarceration, while drastically cutting investments in basic infrastructure and social safety net programs. The impact of these budgetary choices has largely affected Black, brown and poor neighborhoods, who have been structurally alienated from decision-making and dehumanized by narratives that paint them as dangerous and undeserving. In many low-wage Black and brown communities, the largest state investment actually comes in the form of police, prisons, and high-tech surveillance infrastructure. Meanwhile, these same neighborhoods are being starved of basic infrastructure and services, such as housing, transit, education, and healthcare and subject to the life threatening impacts of climate change and environmental disasters.

We are in a unique moment where there is widespread, bipartisan agreement that our criminal legal system requires a major overhaul. As a result, we have an opportunity to redefine what keeps us safe and what we invest in to make safety a reality. A broad array of policies and budgetary interventions are needed in our cities to reshape and redefine public safety away from criminalization and towards a real vision for secure and thriving communities.

Now more than ever, we need lawyers, working closely with their communities, to develop projects that maximize the capacity of Black communities to protect themselves, democratize the law, and build viable alternatives.

The Fellowship:

This fellowship provides a wide range of support to help lawyers, legal workers and organizers turn their ideas into reality. The fellowship is designed to address the needs of lawyers and legal workers who are working in relationship with community and are looking for innovative ways to apply legal skills to support invest/divest work happening in your community . The fellowship includes:

  • Financial Support: Participants will receive $5,000 in financial support to advance your work for Black communities.

  • Retreats: Fellows will be asked to participate in an opening retreat August 1st - 4th, 2019  and a closing retreat on January 23-25, 2020.

  • Learning Labs: Innovators will participate in 2 learning labs designed to create dedicated time for fellows to deepen their political analysis and to connect with movement lawyers and organizers from across the country. Lab topics will allow fellows to dig deep on the topic and have strategy discussions on using law to build a world where Black lives matter.

  • Law For Black Lives Network: Access to Law for Black Lives Network and use of our online platform to elevate ongoing work and recruit volunteers. Fellows will also receive free access to Law for Black Lives convenings, trainings, ongoing policy support and legal resources.

  • Brain Trusts: Each project will go through a “Brain Trust” or a collective problem-solving space where Fellows will help each other brainstorm solutions to sticky challenges in real-time for their respective projects.

  • Culminating Project: Fellows will be asked to create and produce a final project, in collaboration with other fellows, that addresses a specific need or needs of movement organizations or communities working on invest/divest campaigns.

  • Showcase: At the culmination of the Fellowship, fellows will have the opportunity to present their project to the Law For Black Lives network and movement partners.  

The Requirements:

In order to be eligible applicants must meet the following requirements:

  • Partner with directly-impacted individuals and/or community organizations in Black communities.

  • Creatively use law to build the power of Black communities and Black-led organizing.

  • Use an intersectional analysis to center marginalized populations including women, immigrants, LGBTQ, etc. within Black communities.

  • Respond to urgent challenges in ways that build long-term, systemic change.

  • Increase the scale, reach and depth of movement lawyering in geographic areas with limited existing capacity.

  • Breakdown silos and foster collaboration within and outside the legal sector.

  • Must be working on or have plans to work on invest/divest campaigns. Specifically, issues or campaigns that are aimed at shifting funding and the investment of public dollars away from punitive and exploitative systems into community driven strategies for safety and sustainability.

  • Applicants must be able to attend the opening and closing retreats and final showcase. The opening will be held August 1st - 4th, 2019 and the closing retreat will be held on January 23rd-25th, 2020.

APPLICATIONS ARE DUE JUNE 19TH, 2019. If you have any questions or concerns, please email us at info@law4blacklives.org.