BY CLINTON DICK
Following on a series of other public interest wins, 3L Harvard Law School student O. Grace Bankole is the recipient of the 2004 Soros Justice Advocacy Fellowship. According to the HLS website, the fellowship “funds lawyers, advocates and organizers who initiate litigation, public education, grassroots organizing and advocacy projects that will have a measurable impact on a host of criminal justice issues.”
Bankole hopes to use the Fellowship to create Families Empowering Families, which will seek to help friends and families of Louisiana’s incarcerated children by providing such individuals with intensive legal and advocacy training. The Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana will oversee the program.
The HLS website reports Bankole as saying, “So many of us come to law school with the desire to make a real difference in the lives of others, but over time, certain pressures adversely affect that goal. This fellowship project allows me to fulfill the purpose for which I came to law school-to use the law to empower poor, and marginalized communities of color. I’m grateful for this opportunity to serve others, and very excited about my project.”
Bankole could not be reached for comment at presstime.
The Soros Justice Advocacy Fellowship is awarded each year by the Open Society Institute (OSI), a private organization founded and funded by George Soros. According to the organization’s website, “OSI places a premium on empowering those individuals whose rights, economic self-sufficiency and political participation have systematically been undercut, so that they can provide leadership in their communities and serve as catalysts for just policies and practices. We place priority on the needs of low-income individuals or who historically have been the targets of discriminatory practices.”
Soros has become an increasingly visible figure in politics, funding such organizations as MoveOn.org and other progessive political and legal causes, drawing largely on his fortune built through his successful global finance ventures.