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First Generation Civil Rights Fellowship

APPLICATION DEADLINE HAS BEEN EXTENDED TO 1/31/14.

Overview:

The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers' Committee) launched the First Generation Civil Rights Fellowship (FirstGEN) program during the summer of 2013, to coincide with the Lawyers' Committee's 50th anniversary. Shortly after, the Washington, D.C. office of the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) and the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC) agreed to become FirstGEN partnering organizations.

FirstGEN is a ten-week summer program for undergraduate students who are the first in their immediate families to attend an institution of higher education and who are passionate about pursuing careers in social justice.  Fellows gain hands-on experience working on civil rights matters as full time Public Policy & Social Justice interns while also participating in a parallel training program. FirstGEN creates a greater community of advocates by linking emerging leaders with existing ones and by creating a FirstGEN alumni network.  Each fellow receives a $1,000 stipend.

FirstGEN is a Lawyers' Committee, NILC and CLINIC collaborative program, with the Lawyers' Committee serving as program lead.  Each organization will host two fellows during the summer of 2014 and all six fellows will participate in a weekly advocacy training program.

To view the press release announcing the Lawyers' Committee, NILC and CLINIC FirstGEN partnership, click here, to view a PDF version of FirstGEN's program overview, click here

You may learn more about FirstGEN by liking us at facebook.com/FirstGENFellows and following @FirstGENFellows on Twitter.

Mission:

To identify, support and advance emerging first generation social justice leaders.

2013 Inaugural FirstGEN Program:

To meet the 2013 inaugural FirstGEN Fellows, Ms. Tania Chairez and Ms. Najaah Daniels, please click here. To read a May 7, 2013 article on this program, appearing on Diverse Issues in Higher Education, please click here

Application Timeline for Summer 2014:

The FirstGEN Fellowship Selection Committee seeks to identify applicants who are passionate about developing careers in social justice and who are the first in their immediate families to attend an institution of higher education.

  • Applications are accepted through January 31, 2014.
  • Finalists will be contacted on or before February 28, 2014.
  • Six Fellows will be selected anywhere from March to April of 2014.
    • Fellows will be jointly selected by the Lawyers' Committee, NILC and CLINIC.
  • Ten-week summer Fellowships will commence approximately during the first week of June, 2014.
    • The exact start date will be finalized after the 2014 FirstGEN Fellows are selected.

Selection Criteria:

  • The FirstGEN Fellowship Committee seeks bright undergraduate students, who are first generation college students, dedicated to pursuing careers in the social justice field.
  • Applicants should possess a track record of public service through volunteer work/community service.
    • If an applicant lacks a public serve track record, he or she may include an additional page explaining the circumstances preventing this type of engagement.
  • Candidates who are people of color, women, LGBT, or other minorities are strongly encouraged to apply.

Required Application Materials:

  • A cover sheet listing:
    • Current contact information (address, phone, and e-mail);
    • University name, graduation date, and major;
    • Name(s) of the host organization(s) the applicant is willing to consider for placement (Lawyers' Committee, NILC and/or CLINIC).
  • A one page résumé, which should include relevant prior experiences working or volunteering in public service.
    • If an applicant lacks a track record of public service, he or she may include an additional page explaining the circumstances preventing this type of engagement.
  • A reflective essay not to exceed two typed double-spaced pages, describing why the applicant is passionate about pursuing a career in social justice.
  • Applications must be emailed in Portable Document Format (PDF), preferably as one single document, to firstgenfellows@lawyerscommittee.org.

Requirements:

  • Fellows must complete his or her freshman year before commencing this program.
  • Fellows must be first generation college students.
    • This means eligible candidates are the first in their immediate families to attend an institution of higher education.
  • Fellows must be currently enrolled either as full time or part time students.
  • Fellows must be able to reside in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area for ten weeks during the length of this program.
    • Please note that the Lawyers' Committee and NILC are located in downtown Washington, D.C., while CLINIC is located in Silver Spring, MD.

 Financial Award:

 $1,000 per fellow.

 Fellowship Program Details:

  • FirstGEN is a Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers' Committee), National Immigration Law Center (NILC) and Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC) collaborative program, with the Lawyers' Committee serving as program lead.
    • Each organization will host two fellows.
    • On Fridays FirstGEN Fellows will jointly take part in the parallel advocacy training program.
  • Fellows placed at the Lawyers' Committee's office will be directly supervised by Public Policy Director Tanya Clay House but may also have opportunities to work in other project areas of interest.
  • Fellows placed at NILC office will be directly supervised by NILC D.C. Office Director Don Lyster.
  • Fellows placed at CLINIC will be directly supervised by Legalization Program Director Michelle Sardone.
  • Fellows will have the opportunity to meet with D.C. based civil rights leaders from the Hill, the non-profit sector and other social justice organizations.
  • Fellows will receive leadership, advocacy, and career development training.
    • For an overview see our Facebook page (facebook.com/FirstGENFellows).
  • Alejandro T. Reyes, Counsel for the Legal Mobilization Project, with the Lawyers' Committee, will serve as the FirstGEN program facilitator and will lead the training programs.

Day to day tasks fellows will be required to perform, outside of FirstGEN programming:

Lawyers' Committee:
The Lawyers' Committee's Public Policy Project leads and coordinates the organizational policy agenda through the development, analysis and support of all Lawyers' Committee projects by providing policy leadership, advocacy, visibility and materials for the Hill and in coalitions on substantive priorities as they arise on the legislative calendar.  The Public Policy Project is led by Tanya Clay House, who was awarded the 2003 Congressional Black Caucus Chair's Award for her dedication, leadership and commitment in advancing the cause of civil and human rights for all Americans. In 2010 she was recognized by the Independent Sector as an NGen Fellow for her leadership skills and commitment to the public sector.

Fellows placed with the Lawyers' Committee Public Policy Project engage in research and writing, producing issue briefs and policy statements. They attend and report on coalition meetings, as well as briefings and hearings taking place on the Hill, and may prepare testimony and talking points for Lawyers' Committee staff members.  Fellows are likely to work on a wide range of issues related to any of our substantive projects, such as Voting, Education, and Fair Housing, as well as perform duties related to Public Policy core initiatives, such as the Judicial Diversity Program and Criminal Justice reform efforts.  

National Immigration Law Center (NILC):
As a national advocacy organization working for social justice, the National Immigration Law Center's (NILC) mission is to promote and advance the rights and opportunities of low-income immigrants, and their families. NILC's federal policy office in Washington, D.C. engages in policy analysis, education, and advocacy, and is led by Don Lyster. Prior to joining NILC, Don was a congressional aide for ten years, serving in various capacities for Sen. Paul Sarbanes, Sen. Edward Kennedy at the Senate Subcommittee on Immigration, and most recently Congresswoman Solis, for whom he was legislative counsel, and, later, Chief of Staff.

Fellows placed with NILC's Washington, D.C. office engage in research and writing, producing issue briefs and policy statements.  They attend and report on coalition meetings, as well as briefings and hearings taking place on the Hill.  Fellows are likely to work on a wide range of issues related to one of NILC's priority areas: education access, economic justice, workers' rights, detention and deportation, legalization, and health.  NILC provides a rich environment for fellows to learn about the immigrant rights movement and to work alongside attorneys and policy analysts involved in national policy analysis and advocacy. 

Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC):
CLINIC's Advocacy section tackles problems faced by low-income immigrants and the CLINIC member agencies that serve them.  At the national level, CLINIC's advocacy team works closely with Administration officials at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR). At the local level, CLINIC supports the efforts of advocates working to combat state and local anti-immigrant measures. To increase representation to detained immigrants, CLINIC coordinates the Board of Immigration Appeals Pro Bono Project.

Fellows placed with CLINIC will assist attorneys in resolving immigration issues through advocacy, education, pro bono representation, litigation, and media.  They will review and draft comments on government regulations and policy memos and attend meetings with government agencies, hearings, and other events.  In addition, fellows will assist the nonprofit legal service providers in CLINIC's network with individual case inquiries, research and analyze state immigration-related legislation, and support pro bono attorneys in immigration appeals. 

Fellows placed with any of the host organizations should expect collegial but fast paced and demanding work environments.

If you have questions please contact us at firstgenfellows@lawyerscommittee.org.

About the Lawyers' Committee:

The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers' Committee), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. We are celebrating our 50th anniversary in 2013 as we continue our quest of "Moving America Toward Justice." The principal mission of the Lawyers' Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice under law, particularly in the areas of fair housing and fair lending; community development; employment; voting; education and environmental justice. For more information about the Lawyers' Committee, visit www.lawyerscommittee.org.

About the National Immigration Law Center:

Founded in 1979, the National Immigration Law Center envisions a society in which all people-regardless of race, gender, income level, or immigration status-have the opportunity to live freely, work safely, and thrive in society. The organization's advocates and attorneys use a variety of tools, including policy analysis, litigation, education and advocacy, to achieve this vision. For more information about the National Immigration Law Center, visit www.nilc.org.

About the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc.:

Embracing the Gospel value of welcoming the stranger, CLINIC promotes the dignity and protects the rights of immigrants in partnership with a dedicated network of Catholic and community legal immigration programs. For more information about the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc., visit www.cliniclegal.org.

For Questions and Interest in Supporting FirstGEN:

If you have questions, or are interested in serving as a partnering organization, guest speaker, or would like to financially support this program please contact Alejandro T. Reyes at 202-662-8321 or areyes@lawyerscommittee.org.

FAQs:

Am I required to reside in the District of Columbia during the fellowship?

No one is required to reside in the District of Columbia. Please note that the Lawyers' Committee and NILC are located in downtown D.C., while CLINIC is located in Silver Spring, MD.  All three offices are Metro accessible.

Am I required to find housing on my own?

Yes, each fellow is required to find housing. We would be happy to provide suggestions.

When you say first generation student, do you mean within your immediate family?

Yes.

My older sibling graduates one year ahead of me, do I still qualify?

Every applicant will have a different story to share, please share yours and the Selection Committee will make a decision based on your specific situation.

When will the fellowship commence?

Our aim is to have all six fellows commence this program on the same day or as close together as possible, however we are flexible. The best thing to do is to apply and include in your application when you would be able to commence.

I graduate before this program begins, am I eligible?

Yes, as long as you are enrolled at the time you submit your application materials.

A parent has a two-year associate degree, am I eligible?

Include this information in your application, the Selection Committee while make certain decisions on a case by case basis.

Practical Progressive - Official Selection 2008