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Ford Foundation Public Interest Law School Summer Fellowship

2L Early Application Deadline: December 12, 2014
1L and 2L Regular Application Deadline: February 23, 2015
(1Ls may begin applying after December 1, 2014)

Yale Law School is participating in the Ford Foundation Public Interest Law School Summer Fellowship grant program. The program offers students the opportunity to gain experience on the frontlines of public interest law and is designed to connect highly motivated and accomplished law students to substantive, ten-week placements with the foundation’s grantee organizations around the world, working to improve the lives of others through legal analysis, litigation and public policy advocacy.

Since 2013, the Ford Foundation has connected nearly 200 law school students from Harvard, New York University, Stanford, and Yale Law Schools to grantee organizations in the U.S. and abroad. The Foundation continues to support social justice advocates through a summer and a post-graduate program.


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 Ford Foundation Law School Public Interest Summer Fellowship Program will support 10 first and second year Yale Law students with a stipend of $13,500 for ten weeks to have a substantive and transformative experience as summer interns with participating Ford Grantee Organizations. Giving students the opportunity to work in the field of public interest law, the program seeks to award highly motivated and accomplished students with an internship in a domestic or international Ford Foundation grantee organization whose work focuses broadly on legal analysis, litigation, and public policy advocacy. Working closely with lawyers and advocates, students will gain exposure to a variety of diverse settings and will be exposed to such topics as reproductive rights, civil rights, gay, lesbian, and transgender rights, immigrants’ rights, prisoner and ex-offenders’ rights, voting rights, children’s rights, and other areas of concern with respect to social justice and equity.


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.”


Students are responsible for securing a summer placement with a Ford Foundation Grantee Organization. Once a placement is confirmed with a Ford Grantee Organization, students may apply for Ford funding. In the event that 10 fellows are not selected in the first round, YLS will select up to 10 first and second-year Ford Summer Fellows during the regular selection process.

All applicants must register for Part I of the Summer Public Interest Funding (SPIF) when prompted to do so by the Financial Aid Office.

For a list of past Ford summer fellows, click here.


Second year applicants may apply for Ford funding using the early deadline of December 12, 2014 or the regular deadline of February 23, 2015.

First year applicants must apply for Ford funding by February 23, 2015.

Step One
Apply for a summer internship with a Ford Grantee Organization. Follow the organization’s application and interview process. Receive and accept a summer position.

In your cover letters to Ford grantee organizations, consider including the following language:
I understand that your organization is a Ford Foundation grantee. As such, if I am offered and accept a summer internship with your organization, I am eligible to apply through my law school to be a Ford Foundation Law School Public Interest Summer Fellow. If selected by my law school, I will receive financial support for ten weeks of full-time work with your organization. If I am not selected as a Ford Fellow, I am eligible for other summer public interest funding through YLS.

Step Two
Draft the following Ford funding application materials:

1. A resume

2. A Personal Statement (750 words maximum) that includes a description of: a) why you want to participate in the Ford Law School Public Interest Fellowship Program; b) what you want to accomplish as a Ford Fellow in summer 2015; and c) past examples of leadership and potential for future leadership.

Step Three
Log into CMS using your NetID as your username (utilize the Forgot Password option if necessary). Follow the instructions provided under Announcements for uploading your Ford funding application materials to CMS. All application materials must be complete and uploaded by December 12, 2014 for early 2L decisions or by February 23, 2015 for regular 1L and 2L decisions.


Applications due (early decision)  December 12, 2014 
Selected students notified by YLS
(early decision) 
January 20, 2015 
Applications due (regular deadline)  February 23, 2015 
Selected students notified by YLS March 20, 2015 


Applications due  February 23, 2015 
Selected students notified by YLS  March 20, 2015


Once selected for this program, Ford Foundation Law School Fellows will be required to engage in activities designed to enhance connection with other fellows, and to assist development of the program.

  1. Prior to the start of the summer internship, each Fellow will be required to read:
    a. Quigley, Letter To a Law Student Interested in Social Justice (2007)
    b. Scheingold and Sarat, Something to Believe In, Politics, Professionalism, and Cause Lawyering, Chapter 2 (Cause Lawyering, Civic Professionalism, and the Organized Legal Profession: A Brief History)
    c. Bellow, Steady Work: A Practitioner’s Reflections on Political Lawyering, 31 Harv. C. R. – C. L. L. Rev 297 (1996)
    d. Bell, Serving Two Masters, 85 Yale L. J. 470 (1976)
  2. During and at the end of the summer program, each Fellow will be required to write three reflection papers, which will be submitted by pre-agreed upon dates to Akua Akyea in the Career Development Office and address:
    a. Reflection Paper #1. Submit during the first week of internship describing organization’s mission, supervision structure for internship, personal and professional goals for summer internship, and a “response” to any or all of the readings.
    b. Reflection Paper #2. Submit during Week 5 of internship describing major projects, assessing whether the goals described in Reflection Paper #1 are being or are likely to be accomplished or whether they need to be adjusted, analyzing an issue related to the structure of the internship organization and an issue raised in one or more of the readings.
    c. Reflection paper #3. Submit during the last week of internship providing an overview of accomplishments, describing the most surprising aspect of internship, and assessing accomplishment of goals. (This is separate and distinct from an evaluation of the organization.)
  3. Internship Evaluation
    Within two weeks of the last day of the internship, each fellow will be required to complete a “Summer Employment Evaluation” for CDO.
  4. Program Support
    Each Fellow will be asked to assist with recruitment of students for the following year.
  5. Fall Colloquium Attendance at Ford Foundation
    In fall 2014, the Ford Foundation will host a colloquium in New York for the Fellows to meet in person, to continue their learning from the summer, and to further deepen the connections of the cohort group. The Ford Foundation will reimburse reasonable travel costs to attend the colloquium.

Please contact Akua Akyea at ford.fellowship@yale.edu with any questions.

Ford Foundation Summer Fellowship Program FAQs
Ford Foundation Earnings Contribution FAQs