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Robina Foundation Pledges Additional $3 Million to Support Human Rights Fellowship Initiative at Yale Law School

Yale Law School’s human rights efforts will continue strong for the next three years, thanks, in great part, to the Robina Foundation’s decision to renew support of the Robina Foundation Human Rights Fellowship Initiative at Yale Law School. The Foundation established the initiative in 2008 with a 3-year grant of $3 million. In 2010, they provided $1 million to sustain the initiative through fiscal year 2012. Now they have renewed their support by pledging another $3 million to fund the initiative through fiscal year 2015.

“Yale Law School is honored to receive renewed funding from the Robina Foundation,” said Yale Law School Dean Robert Post ’77. “This new grant will sustain an outstanding program that supports human rights leaders at all stages of their careers, from the time they enter law school to the time after they graduate and have become senior-level scholars and practitioners. There is no other program that provides such comprehensive support for individuals interested in human rights.”

The goal of the Robina Initiative is to foster a burgeoning network of leaders who are passionate about and committed to human rights work. In collaboration with the Orville H. Schell, Jr. Center for International Human Rights, the initiative helps to grow and enhance the opportunities available to those interested in human rights, both at the Law School and at Yale University.

The Robina Initiative offers four types of support:

The Robina Human Rights JD Scholarships provide need-based aid to students interested in human rights. Thus far, 44 students have benefited from these scholarships, and a significant majority of those who have graduated have secured jobs or fellowships in the international human rights field.

The Kirby Simon Summer Human Rights Fellowships enable current law students to spend the summer working in human rights-oriented jobs. During the four years of the Robina grant, more than 150 Summer Human Rights Fellows have traveled to dozens of countries working on a wide array of human rights issues at a range of institutions.

The Robina Post-Graduate Human Rights Fellowships fund recent graduates to work full-time for up to a year pursuing foreign and international judicial clerkships, interning with international tribunals and inter-governmental or governmental agencies, and conducting independent research projects. So far, 13 post-graduate fellowships have been awarded.

The Robina Visiting Human Rights Fellowships provide support for human rights scholars and practitioners to spend time in residence at the Law School conducting research, teaching courses, giving talks, and interacting with students and faculty. The visiting fellows not only enrich the curriculum of the Law School; they also contribute a great deal to human rights discourse throughout Yale University and in the wider community of human rights scholars and advocates.

“The Robina Initiative at Yale Law School encourages students to engage in and promote important human rights work not only during their time at law school but down the road, as they become future leaders in the field,” said Penny Hunt, executive director of the Robina Foundation. “The Robina Foundation is proud to renew funding for this outstanding program.”

Clark Gard ’09 is currently a Robina Human Rights Post-Graduate Fellow. He said, “By funding my clerkship with the Chief Justice of South Africa, the Robina Fellowship has given me the opportunity to develop myself as a scholar and practitioner of international law. It is vital that the next generation of international human rights lawyers has training and experience in a range of jurisdictions and legal systems, and the Robina Fellowship facilitates precisely that.”

Another recent graduate whose experiences were influenced greatly by the Robina Initiative is Elizabeth Nielsen ’11. After spending time in law school working as the co-director of the Project Assisting the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, the Robina Initiative enabled Elizabeth to complement her academic work by spending a summer as a legal associate at the Documentation Center of Cambodia in Phnom Penh. “I could not have afforded to work in Cambodia without the fellowship, and it was truly a life-changing experience,” she said. Elizabeth has also received a Robina Post-Graduate Fellowship this year to work in the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.

The Robina Foundation, a Minnesota-based private grantmaking foundation, seeks to positively impact critical social issues by encouraging innovation and financially supporting transformative projects of its four institutional partners. These partners, selected by the Foundation’s founder, James H. Binger, are Abbott Northwestern Hospital, Minneapolis, MN; The Council on Foreign Relations, New York, NY; University of Minnesota Law School, Minneapolis, MN; and Yale University, New Haven, CT.