Tom Steel Post-Graduate Fellowship
The Tom Steel Post-Graduate Fellowship provides funding for a new lawyer to work in the United States on an innovative, public interest law project that serves the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
The Fellowship will help ensure that unmet legal needs are recognized and prioritized on an on-going basis, and that the next generation of legal advocates for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community develops the critical skills necessary to secure civil rights into the future.
The Steel Fellowship is the first fellowship of its kind anywhere in the country. In typical years, the annual Fellowship is a $30,000 award for an individual to complete full-time work for twelve (12) months. Pride Law Fund seeks to fund "cutting edge" projects with the potential to make a lasting impact. Persons are eligible to apply if they are law students eligible to graduate in the Spring semester, or are lawyers within three years of their graduation from law school. Additional requirements are set forth in the application materials. Factors considered in awarding grants include:
- Need for the project (how under-served the issue/community is)
- Anticipated impact of the project
- The organization and structure of the proposal
- Stability and supportiveness of the sponsoring organization or attorney
- The applicant's past community or public service activities
- The applicant's connection and involvement with the LGBT community.
The Steel Fellowship is the first fellowship of its kind anywhere in the country.
In typical years, the annual Fellowship is a $30,000 award for an individual to complete full-time work for twelve (12) months.
Please see our FAQ below if you have any questions. If you have a question not addressed here, please email us.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What kinds of projects does Pride Law Fund choose (or not choose)? The Tom Steel Fellowship was created to support cutting-edge projects that are unlikely to find funding elsewhere. You can check out our list of past fellowships for information about projects that have been successful. We are interested in projects that push the boundaries of the work that is already being done in support of LGBTQI communities. We expect your proposal to demonstrate an understanding of the existing work and to explain why your project is innovative in that context. We also strive to fund projects that are likely to become self-supporting or integrated into the supporting organization’s ongoing work after an initial year of seed-money from PLF.
- I want to work with an existing organization that needs a staff attorney to focus on LGBTQI-specific issues, or an existing organization that does LGBTQI work that does not have the capacity to focus on an important issue they already do some work on. Will PLF support my project? Every year we receive applications from organizations that already support LGBTQI communities and that need more attorney help. PLF understands and appreciates the reality that there is insufficient funding available for nonprofit staff attorney positions; however the Steel Fellowship was established to fund innovative work that would not otherwise get funding. PLF does not consider staff attorney positions to be innovative. Your application must show why your proposal is not just a staff attorney job. In addition, some proposals demonstrate that the application would be creating capacity in an organization to expand its work in a new direction. PLF will evaluate whether that proposal would be a staff attorney job for a different organization that covers the same geographic area or population that your proposal targets.
- I have work experience on my resume that is not progressive or does not clearly demonstrate commitment to the populations I am proposing to serve now or is apparently contradictory. For example, I worked at a District Attorney’s office during a law school summer and I am proposing a project focused on prison reform. Can I still be successful? PLF understands that not everyone has been consistently on the same side of every issue in their employment history, or even in their life. Whether you have made those employment choices because of financial need, ideological development or shifts during your education, or for some other reason, tell us about it in your personal statement, and be prepared to explain apparently contradictory work history in an interview.
- In order to be successful, my project will require multiple supporting organizations. Will PLF consider that? There have been successful Steel Fellowship applications that have had multiple supporting organizations. PLF considers the need for the project, the relationship the applicant has with the supporting organizations, and the context in which the project will occur to determine whether or not to fund a project. PLF recognizes that having divided support can create logistical problems for a project’s success and PLF will require that a successful project choose one organization as the primary supporter so that PLF can direct funding through only one organization. Because of the Steel Fellowship’s funding structure, that organization must be a 501(c)(3).
- I really struggled academically in law school and I’m hesitant to apply because my GPA is not great. Should I still apply? YES! Please do not let your grades be a barrier to applying for the fellowship. PLF recognizes that law school is often an uncomfortable academic environment especially for progressive thinkers and social justice change-makers. In most instances we receive an applicant’s transcript and ignore it.
- Do you check references? PLF will contact an applicant’s references and supporting organization(s) to confirm that the project will receive the support it needs during the fellowship year. Because PLF is interested in funding projects that are likely to continue after PLF’s initial funding, PLF will ask the supporting organization about this possibility.
- Do you consider funding a second year of an existing project? PLF will consider funding an existing Steel Fellowship project for a second year. Applications from an existing fellow have the same deadline and requirements as new applications.
- I don’t see my question answered here - can I ask it somewhere? Yes. Please email email@example.com and we will get back to you.
Current Steel Fellow
Ghirlandi Guidetti (Steel Fellow, 2016-2017) is sponsored by the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois. Guidetti will represent and advocate for LGBTQ children in the custody of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). His project will provide advocacy on behalf of the LGBTQ youth who are overrepresented in the child welfare system. Ghirlandi is well-poised to do this work because ACLU of Illinois has a long-standing consent decree with DCFS to provide civil rights protections for youth in foster care. We are thrilled to support Ghirlandi's ground-breaking work.
2015-2016 Steel Fellow
Raúl Arroyo-Mendoza (Steel Fellow, 2015-2016) is sponsored by the National Center for Youth Law. Arroyo-Mendoza will represent and advocate for LGBTQ youth engaged in the commercial sex trade for survival. His project will provide survivors and at-risk youth access legal entitlements to community-based mental health services, gender-affirming medical care.
2014-2015 Steel Fellow
Daniel Faessler (Steel Fellow, 2014-2015) is sponsored by the Transgender Law Center and is working in partnership with Asian Pacific Islander Wellness Center, El/La Para TransLatinas, Instituto Familiar de la Raza, Public Health Institute, TGI Justice Project, Transgender Economic Empowerment Initiative and Bay Area Legal Aid. Faessler has established the Transgender Legal Services Project (TLSP), which reduces barriers to accessible legal representation by providing fully bilingual (Spanish and English) services for the transgender and gender non-conforming community in the San Francisco Bay Area. TLSP organizes legal clinics at its partnering organizations where community members may access legal information, obtain referrals and seek direct representation on a variety of legal issues including discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations; court-ordered name and gender changes; accessing medical care; immigration; and many other issues.
2013-2014 Steel Fellow
Kate Walsham (Steel Fellow, 2013-2014) is sponsored by the Southwest Women's Law Center, the ACLU of New Mexico, and the Transgender Resource Center of New Mexico. Walsham has established a new legal project in Albuquerque focusing on the rights of transgender people. Her work centers on educating the bar of New Mexico about LGBT issues, advocacy and outreach around the Affordable Care Act's implications for LGBT people, and representing clients facing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.