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Ralph Santiago Abascal Fellowship-UC Hastings

Friday, August 01, 2008

  • UC Hastings

The Abascal Fellowship Committee seeks to fund projects that will include legal advocacy, community education, and policy change in areas affecting people who are denied access to the legal system.

Factors considered in awarding grants include the need for the proposed project; the impact of the proposed project; the availability or lack of other sources of funding; the level of existing legal services that address the same problem as the proposed project; the quality of the proposal; and the qualifications and experience of the proposed grantee.

Because grants are for $47,000, proposed projects must be designed so that they either can achieve results within one year, or can demonstrate the capacity to become self-supporting or to develop other sources of funding during and after the initial grant year. The Abascal Fellowship Committee prefers to make grants that provide seed money for new projects rather than to make grants for research, long-term litigation or to assist established, ongoing projects. The Abascal Fellowship accepts applications from recent Hastings graduates (Class of '03 through '09).

The Abascal fellow will be expected to visit the Hastings campus at some point during or shortly after the fellowship to discuss his or her work with students, and to submit quarterly reports documenting the fellowship.

The Abascal Fellowship recognizes the value of diversity in the workplace and strongly encourages people of color, gay men and lesbians, persons with disabilities, and members of underserved or disadvantaged communities to apply for the fellowships.

Selection Criteria

All applications for an Abascal Fellowship will be judged according to the quality of the proposed project, the host organization, and the individual fellowship candidate.

Project Evaluation Criteria

• The project must involve legal advocacy on behalf of disenfranchised individuals or groups who are not adequately represented by some aspect of the legal system. Advocacy may entail a wide range of approaches, including, but not limited to, community legal education and training, organizing, direct services, litigation, transactional work, and administrative or legislative efforts.

• The project must involve an approach to addressing legal needs that is either innovative or has previously proven to be effective. Because the goal is to create new public interest positions and give fellows the opportunity to exercise leadership on discrete projects, the Abascal Fellowship will not fund a general staff attorney position within an existing organization.

• Preference will be given to projects that are designed to affect a large number of people, create programs that can be replicated in other communities, and/or create lasting institutions or programs.

• Preference will be given to projects that serve geographic areas that experience persistent difficulties attracting public interest attorneys, such as rural locations and poor communities.

• Projects in the area of indigent criminal defense should focus on innovative services, support or delivery mechanisms that are not adequately funded by the government or that are designed to impact broad criminal justice issues.

Host Organization Evaluation Criteria

• The organization's history of accomplishments and how the project fits into organizational priorities.

• The organization's commitment and ability to provide training, support and supervision throughout the fellowship.

• The organization's commitment and ability to provide standard employee fringe benefits to the fellow during the fellowship.

• The organization's commitment to continue the project after the initial grant period.

• The organization's commitment to taking affirmative steps to ensure a diverse workplace through its hiring.

Fellowship Candidate Evaluation Criteria

• The candidate's demonstrated commitment to public interest law generally, and specifically to the community in which s/he is planning to work.

• The candidate's professional, volunteer and/or subject matter expertise indicating that s/he possesses the relevant skills and initiative to make the proposed project a success.

• Preference will be given to candidates who propose a project that serves a community with which they have a personal history and identification.

• The Abascal Fellowship program is designed to create new public interest legal positions and launch new public interest careers. No one who has worked as a full-time, permanent employee with the host organization for any length of time within one year of the application date may be hired as an Abascal fellow at that organization. (The Abascal Fellowship does not view law student summer positions as permanent positions.) For the same reasons, the Abascal fellowship will not fund an applicant who has had a previous postgraduate legal fellowship through any other fellowship program.

The application deadline is 12:00 noon on Wednesday, November 12, 2008. All applications must be submitted online through

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