2025 Design-Your-Own Fellowship Applications are Open

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Headshot of Ben Clark

Ben Clark

  • Hosted by Community Legal Services of Philadelphia
  • Sponsored by Baker McKenzie, Merck & Co., Inc.
  • Service location Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Law school Stanford Law School
  • Issue area Environmental Justice, Housing - Affordable Housing/Microfinance
  • Fellowship class year 2024
  • Program Design-Your-Own Fellowship

The Project

Ben’s (he/they) project with Community Legal Services of Philadelphia (CLS) will expand access to safe, affordable, climate-resilient housing for Philadelphians burdened by energy poverty.

In Philadelphia, the median energy burden—the portion of household income spent on utility bills—is nearly double the national average, due largely to aging and energy-inefficient housing. In some neighborhoods, families spend more than 20 percent of their income on water, gas, and electricity. Climate change exacerbates these disparities: amid record-breaking heat in 2023, Philadelphia’s electric utility shut off power to tens of thousands of households unable to pay electricity bills. While some consumer assistance programs aim to help, structural barriers hinder access, and as a result, less than 20 percent of eligible households receive the help they need to keep the lights on. This is energy poverty, and it compromises the health, security, and dignity of low-income Philadelphians.

Fellowship Plans

Ben will represent families burdened by utility debt to prevent utility shutoffs and to obtain utility debt forgiveness. To address the root causes of energy poverty in Philadelphia, he will also work with coalition partners to drive equitable implementation of new legislation—including Pennsylvania’s Whole-Home Repairs Act and the federal Inflation Reduction Act—that allocates funding for home repairs and energy efficiency upgrades for low-income households. Finally, Ben will partner with local environmental justice groups to organize multilingual community education campaigns that drive enrollment in home repair, weatherization, and electrification programs.

Energy-burdened families deserve to live free of utility debt in safe and healthy homes. I’m honored to join CLS and coalition partners to advance that vision as part of a just and inclusive energy transition in Philadelphia.

Ben Clark /
2024 Equal Justice Works Fellow

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Host: UNC Center for Civil Rights

Sponsor: Norflet Progress Fund

Parisa Fatehi

Host: Public Advocates

Sponsor: Hewlett Packard Enterprise Company, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP

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Jasmine Robinson

Host: Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability

Sponsor: Apple, Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP

Current Fellow

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Erin Mette

Host: Great Lakes Environmental Law Center

Sponsor: Anonymous, Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP