Print/PDF this page:

Print Friendly and PDF

Share this page:

Ford Foundation Post-Graduate Public Interest Fellowship

Beginning in 2012, the Ford Foundation developed a new program, working with Harvard Law School, NYU School of Law, Stanford Law School, and Yale Law School to identify and help develop new leaders within the public interest legal field.

This year the Ford Foundation will fund four post-graduate fellowships for third-year, graduating J.D. students and recent graduates (up to three years) at Yale Law School to work with a Ford Grantee Organization. The aim of the fellowship is to provide participants with an opportunity to work on critical social justice issues and develop the skills needed to be competitive in the public interest job market. In addition, program participants will be part of an international community of public interest advocates.

These post-graduate fellowships deepen the Ford Foundation’s investment in the field and their grantees – hearkening back to the important early contributions by the Foundation in the very beginning of the public interest law movement.

The Ford Foundation is an independent, nonprofit grant-making organization. For more than 75 years it has worked with courageous people on the frontlines of social change worldwide, guided by its mission to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. With headquarters in New York, the foundation has offices in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.

The fellowship is open to current third- year students in the J.D. program at Yale Law School. Recent graduates of the J.D. program at Yale Law School (up to three years out) are also eligible to apply.

The Ford Foundation will fund four full-time, one-year, post-graduate fellowships for $45,000 per year, plus reimbursement of the grantee organization's costs for benefits, up to an additional $15,000 to work with a Ford Grantee Organization.

The term of the fellowship is one year. Fellowships are open to both US and non-US citizens; applicants are responsible for researching and complying with immigration and visa requirements for their prospective host country.

Applications are due on February 9, 2015 by 5:00 p.m. EST. Applications should be submitted to ford.fellowship@yale.edu. Decisions will be announced by March 20, 2015.


Any current and active Ford Grantee Organization regardless of geography is eligible to host a fellow. Click here for a representative list of participating organizations.

Applicants can also search the Ford Foundation database to find out whether an organization has been a Ford Foundation Grantee. Please note that some of the information in the database may be dated – make sure to confirm with the organization.

To search for organizations that litigate, go to the “Approaches” section on the left, select “Advocacy, Litigation, and Reform,” and deselect the rest. In the “Years” section on the left, drag the arrow all the way to the right to the most current year available (2013). One can also search by “Region” and “Issues and Initiatives.”

The application consists of:

1. A fellowship proposal of no more than five doubles-spaced pages. The proposal should not restate the applicant’s resume. Instead, use this opportunity to help the selection committee
understand why you have focused on a particular area of work, how your law school career or other experiences have affected your choices, and what you hope to learn and contribute. The
proposal should include:

a. a description of the structure of the fellowship and supporting details relating to that structure. Structural options include: (1) a new legal project designed by the applicant in partnership
with a Ford Grantee Organization; (2) a plan to work on an existing project within a Ford Grantee Organization; or (3) a plan to work as a staff attorney for a Ford Grantee Organization.

b. a description of the applicant’s specific commitment to the proposed public service activity and how the applicant came to focus on this particular area of work; the applicant’s past
experiences and work activity in the public interest broadly construed; the applicant’s aspirations for future public interest work, and the ways in which the Ford Fellowship will help to
achieve those goals.

c. the goals for the fellow’s work, how those goals will further the public interest, and how they will be accomplished within the fellowship year.

2. A letter of support from the host Ford Grantee Organization including:
a. a general statement of purpose and mission;
b. the organization’s interest in and commitment to the project;
c. the resources provided for the project and the organization’s need for Ford Fellowship funding in order to accomplish its mission;
d. the fellow’s work environment, describing individual or shared work space and support staff;
e. the fellow’s immediate supervisor and/or plans for supervision;
f. a statement addressing the potential for the organization to retain the fellow as a full-time member of the organization’s staff beyond the fellowship year. (Post-fellowship retention is not

3. Three letters of recommendation. At least one recommender must be a YLS faculty member and one recommendation letter should be from an employer (internship and clinical work are  
acceptable). (Electronic signatures are acceptable.)

4. A resume

5. A current Yale Law School transcript.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Who is eligible to apply?
A. Current Yale Law School 3Ls and recent J.D. graduates (up to three years) are eligible to apply. Joint-degree students completing their degrees are eligible to apply.

Q. Can a sponsoring organization commit to more than one applicant?
A. Yes, as long as the organization has the capacity to support, mentor, and adequately supervise the fellows it hosts.

Q. When must the fellowship begin?
A. We expect fellows to begin work the Fall after their graduation. Fellows should negotiate a specific start date with their host organization.

Q. What are the eligible host organizations?
A. Any current and active Ford Grantee Organization.