2025 Design-Your-Own Fellowship Applications are Open

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Charlotte Goodenow

The Project

Charlotte (she/her/hers) will build digital tools designed to promote access to housing justice at scale, focusing on removing barriers to housing justice for low-income immigrant renters.

Immigrants face a host of unique challenges when trying to secure housing: discrimination, lack of access to public benefits, language barriers, and pervasive fears regarding contact with the legal system all make immigrant renters especially vulnerable to housing instability. Evidence shows that immigrant renters are more likely to “self-evict,” leaving their homes without attempting to assert their legal rights. Those renters who do choose to participate in the legal process still face challenges, and recent data shows that Colorado renters are represented in just 1.3% of all eviction cases, and unrepresented renters are 3 times more likely to have an eviction judgment entered against them than represented renters. Immigrant renters simply lack access to legal support that can, in many cases, keep them housed–and traditional legal services are unlikely ever to match the scale of their needs.

Charlotte has worked with immigrants across the state to secure greater legal equity, create security and opportunity, and build thriving communities. She is excited to have the opportunity to continue this work as a Fellow, this time with a focus on co-creating new solutions for housing justice that intentionally include and serve immigrant community members.

Fellowship Plans

Charlotte’s project will help renters across the state to assert their rights, with or without counsel, by developing digital applications that respond directly to immigrant renters’ needs. She will identify immigrant communities’ housing-related needs and community barriers to accessing housing justice by conducting a listening tour in partnership with community organizations serving immigrants across the state. Based on these learnings, she will develop, disseminate, test, refine, and market digital tools designed to serve these communities. Additionally, Charlotte will analyze data collected through these tools to gain insight into pervasive housing justice issues in immigrant communities in Colorado and use these empirical findings to enable immigrant and housing advocates to pursue policy changes and provide other resources and support.

All of us deserve the dignity and safety that stable housing provides. With creative, community-led solutions, we can make it possible for renters to stand up for themselves and their families in court.

Charlotte Goodenow /
2024 Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

Ishvaku will work to advance economic justice in Los Angeles by advocating for unhoused individuals who lack identification through an in-person clinic, direct representation, policy advocacy, and impact litigation.

Lack of identification formalizes the socio-economic marginalization of individuals experiencing poverty and homelessness. Identification is a necessary prerequisite for accessing vital services such as social security programs and healthcare benefits, which intend to offer a way out of poverty. However, those born homeless likely never had the chance to get these crucial documents, and those who manage to get identitification may lose them due to housing insecurity. Without identification, people are trapped in a vicious cycle of homelessness.

Fellowship Plans

Ishvaku will establish a biweekly Vital Document Clinic in Skid Row, providing unhoused individuals with assistance in obtaining documents they need to establish identification. When necessary, he will represent clients directly in front of government entities. Ishvaku will also advocate for policies at the local, state, and federal levels that make it easier to obtain identification and affirm the dignity of individuals experiencing poverty and homelessness. Additionally, he will work to craft and execute impact litigation that secures broader system relief. Throughout his Fellowship, Ishvaku will focus on building and strengthening coalitions to empower impacted communities and ensure long-term, sustainable change.

Having grown up in Los Angeles County as the child of immigrants, Ishvaku’s commitment to economic justice stems from his family’s experience with economic insecurity. Through this project, Ishvaku will be able to return to Los Angeles to deepen his passion for advancing economic justice.

Media

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Poverty is not just an economic catastrophe, but a moral catastrophe that exists as much in a lack of money as it does a lack of hope.

Ishvaku Vashishtha /
2023 Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

Building on the expertise of Brooklyn Legal Services LGBTQ+ & HIV Advocacy Project, Jack (they/he) will provide tailored civil legal services to support the economic stability and mobility of Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Non-Binary (TGNCNB) young people living in New York City.

State legislators across the country are expressing intense hostility toward TGNCNB young people, dramatically increasing administrative violence against them. Although New York City has long been a beacon for LGBTQ+ people, there remains a wide gap between the content of New York City and State anti-discrimination laws and the lived experience of TGNCNB young people. The TGNCNB community continues to face rampant discrimination in public accommodations, the workplace, school, and housing—which contributes to cycles of poverty, criminalization, and homelessness faced by many. This project is designed to address these barriers, with the goal of maximizing the opportunities for TGNCNB young people to live a life filled with joy—beyond mere survival.

Fellowship Plans

During their Fellowship, Jack will provide TGNCNB young people with direct civil legal services, including legal name and identity document changes, support in benefits access, and counseling on gender-based discrimination. Harnessing Brooklyn Legal Services LGBTQ & HIV Advocacy Project’s already successful pro-bono name change clinic will enable Jack to expand the projects reach. Jack will concentrate outreach through community partners that offer social services to TGNCNB young people by providing the community with sustained Know Your Rights trainings and educational materials on gender-based discrimination, name changes, and benefits eligibility.

Jack is driven and inspired by the generations of trans people who have created dream-worthy lives for themselves in New York City.

TGNCNB young people deserve the legal support necessary to build stable lives in New Yorc City. This Fellowship will allow me to use all the tools at my disposal to support young members of the TGNCNB community in their journeys.

Jack Pellicano /
2023 Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

Emily (she/her/hers) will enhance opportunities and liberty for low-income Georgians by preventing license suspension, probation, incarceration, and other consequences of non-serious traffic offenses.

Georgia’s traffic code exposes low-income Georgians to an increased risk of prolonged license suspension and being placed under correctional control because of their inability to pay a traffic ticket. Georgia drivers who are unable to afford to pay traffic fines are routinely placed on probation due solely to their inability to pay. Additionally, Georgia drivers routinely have their driver’s licenses suspended for reasons unrelated to unsafe driving. Both consequences mean millions of Georgians are at risk of a non-serious traffic offense leading to state supervision, loss of transportation, loss of income, or even loss of liberty.

Emily understands first-hand how hard it can be for low-income families to meet sudden expenses. Growing up in the South and spending almost a decade in Georgia, Emily is passionate about creating a community where low-income Georgians are not at risk of losing their liberty or livelihood because they cannot afford an unexpected expense.

Fellowship Plans

Emily will enhance low-income Georgians’ liberty by interrupting these collateral consequences of minor traffic offenses. Emily will represent individuals facing license suspension or potential loss of liberty in non-serious traffic cases. Emily will also develop clinics where Georgians facing license suspensions can receive assistance from pro bono attorneys. Through direct representation, data gathering, and community outreach, Emily will identify patterns to develop and pursue a policy agenda to create more equity and opportunity in Georgia’s traffic code.

I’m passionate about this project because of the practical, day-to-day implications it has for low-income Georgians. The idea that something as common as a traffic ticket can upend lives and curtail liberty motivates me to advocate for a better Georgia.

Emily Spears /
2023 Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

Leah’s project with the Connecticut Fair Housing Center will focus on ensuring that federally subsidized housing provides decent living conditions, regardless of the race and income characteristics of the neighborhood it is located within.

Across the country, roughly 3 million low-income individuals rely on apartments subsidized by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) through Project-Based Section Eight. In white, middle-class neighborhoods, this federal housing program provides high quality, safe rental housing; in Black and Latinx, low-income neighborhoods, it does not. Leah’s project will lay the legal and organizing groundwork to correct a design flaw driving this housing disparity in HUD’s project-based section eight housing program, seeking to enable better housing conditions for an estimated one and a half million Black and Latinx individuals.

While working as a local housing organizer for a decade and a half, Leah saw how federal housing programs fail to provide fair and equal conditions in communities of color and how un-changing those conditions can be, despite the herculean efforts from tenants to achieve better for their communities. There is a federal design flaw driving these disparities afflicting housing communities across the country. Through legal advocacy and organizing, we can build the power to solve this problem.

Fellowship Plans

Leah is building a statistical model using HUD’s own national datasets to prove that HUD’s “market-mimicking” funding model drives racially disparate conditions in project-based section eight housing located in the most impoverished and segregated census tracts across the country, which tend to have housing markets in collapse. With that proof in mind, Leah will engage stakeholders such as tenants, community-based organizations, legal service providers, national housing justice networks, affordable housing developers, and municipal, state, and federal officials. Leah will facilitate discussions and consensus-building among these stakeholder groups about the best advocacy and legal options to achieve a more equitable federal housing system.

My Equal Justice Works Fellowship provides me the opportunity to continue to seek justice with the tenant communities I grew to know and love working as a community organizer for the 15 years before beginning law school.

Leah Levinger /
2023 Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

Nketiah (he/him/his) will provide legal representation and advocacy on behalf of Black residents in the D.C. metropolitan area at risk of losing family homes due to unclear or encumbered titles.

Black Americans disproportionately do not have a will or access to probate planning—which often leads to unclear or tangled property titles. So-called “heirs’ properties” are more vulnerable to deed scams, equity theft, and higher property tax bills. Tax and Medicaid liens similarly encumber estates, extracting equity and inhibiting intergenerational wealth transfers in low-income families. Black homeowners need legal resources to aid in the transfer of home and home equity across generations, as well as policy advocacy to challenge the various debts disproportionately saddled onto Black homes.

As a child of immigrants, Nketiah is committed to protecting Black families from physical displacement and promoting their economic advancement.

Fellowship Plans

During his Fellowship, Nketiah will provide direct legal services to help heirs access loan modifications, pursue probate or a probate alternative, and address Medicaid and tax liens that put the family home at risk. He will also create informational guides to outline how families, both before or after a death, can smoothly pass down their homes. Finally, Nketiah will author a report detailing and making policy recommendations to remedy systemic property lien issues and racially disparate access to estate planning resources.

Media

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Nketiah Berko Returns to NCLC as Equal Justice Works Fellow

By challenging the various encumbrances that render Black homes and Black wealth vulnerable to dispossession, I hope to help more Black families enjoy the long-denied security—both physical and financial—provided by homeownership.

Nketiah Berko /
2023 Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

Through the Georgetown University Health Justice Alliance Perinatal Legal Assistance & Well-being (P-LAW) Project, Courtney (she/her/hers) will increase economic security for perinatal patients through direct legal representation, patient and provider education, and systemic advocacy.

Washington, D.C. has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the country, and Black patients experience higher rates of pregnancy-related death and preterm birth than white patients. Economic instability is a key driver of these health disparities, which can contribute to chronic stress, poor nutrition, and a higher risk of dangerous health conditions. While perinatal patients experiencing income insecurity often qualify for public benefits and child support, these programs are difficult to navigate and frequently require legal intervention to access. Courtney’s project seeks to reduce barriers to economic security for perinatal patients at MedStar Washington Hospital Center (MWHC), most of whom are Black and live in communities that are underserved by health and social services.

During law school, Courtney spent three semesters working on economic security legal issues with clients served by the Georgetown University Health Justice Alliance. Courtney was inspired to respond to the stress-inducing legal barriers that prevent many families from accessing critical benefits and income support.

Fellowship Plans

In partnership with P-LAW, Courtney will develop a new screening tool to determine if a patient is not fully accessing available benefits. She will represent patients who were wrongfully denied access in appeals. Courtney will also create a range of materials and opportunities for perinatal patients to understand their rights related to income support, including tailored “Know Your Rights” materials and a monthly “Ask an Attorney” walk-up table in the obstetrics waiting room at MWHC. To further the impact of her Fellowship, Courtney will engage patients and health care providers in advocacy efforts to improve the public benefit and child support systems in Washington, D.C.

Media

Morgan Lewis Co-Sponsors Three Public Service Equal Justice Works Fellowships

Economic security has the potential to improve health outcomes for parents and infants. Through this project, I look forward to helping perinatal patients start a new chapter of life with less stress and more stability.

Courtney Bernard /
2023 Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

Charla’s project with the Benefits Law Center will focus on providing culturally and linguistically competent legal services and education to immigrants, people of color, and people with disabilities in South King County, Washington.

Families of color and immigrants living in South King County experience tremendous barriers to accessing disability benefits. For immigrants and families of color, the inability to access benefits places them at risk of income insecurity and homelessness. While household members may be eligible, many families are afraid to apply based on fear of immigration consequences. Many families have members who are receiving benefits but are unsure how to navigate or comply with the program’s rules because of limited English proficiency.

Charla was inspired to pursue disability law by her personal and professional experience. Her work in early education and housing exposed her to the importance of projects that recognize the intersections of race, income, and disability. She has seen loved ones and community members struggle to obtain and then keep Social Security benefits.

Fellowship Plans

Charla’s Fellowship will address these issues by providing legal services to immigrants and families of color in South King County on Social Security matters. Charla will also conduct monthly trainings and create self-help materials for the target community. Additionally, Charla will establish partnerships with organizations serving this community and recruit and train pro bono attorneys to increase the project’s reach.

My Equal Justice Works Fellowship has afforded me the opportunity to serve the low-income and disability community in South King County as a resource that empowers and supports the agency and voice of others. I am humbled to work on a project that values and uplifts the dignity and identities of people with disabilities.

Charla Boley /
2023 Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

KB’s (she/they) project will focus on increasing access to occupational licenses for low-income New Yorkers with arrest and conviction records through direct representation, community outreach, and policy advocacy.

For decades, many of the 2.3 million New Yorkers living with a criminal record have been routinely denied licensure, discouraged from the application process, or had their licenses revoked. New York law provides some protection to people with criminal records facing denials, including the requirement that licensing agencies evaluate mitigating factors such as a person’s age at the time of their offense. In practice, however, the statutory process means that people undergo lengthy investigations to prove their “good moral character” through “evidence of rehabilitation,” personal interviews, and testimony in formal hearings– often without the aid of counsel.

KB will continue her near decade-long commitment to reentry work in partnership with impacted people and community stakeholders.

Fellowship Plans

During their Fellowship, KB will represent clients facing licensure denials and revocation and litigate discriminatory employer practices on behalf of license holders with criminal records. She will directly engage with New Yorkers who wish to enter one of New York’s 100+ licensed occupations to dispel myths and misinformation that discourage people with criminal records from pursuing licensed employment available to them. Additionally, KB will develop training materials to help pro bono legal and social service providers build expertise in this area and handle incoming cases. In doing so, KB seeks to lessen disparities for workers of color overrepresented in low-wage work, worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic, and promote fair access to licensure so that all workers may find more stable and safer jobs.

Media

Two New Grads Named Equal Justice Works Fellows

This project aims to shine a light on the unnecessary conviction barriers embedded in New York’s occupational licensing laws and help promote the economic security of all New Yorkers living with a criminal record.

KB White /
2022 Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

Milo’s (he/him/his) project will provide holistic legal representation to low-income transgender clients in Chicago facing insurance coverage denials for transition-related medical care.

Transgender people face significant barriers to obtaining transition-related healthcare. Despite the overwhelming consensus of medical associations and clinicians that transition-related healthcare is effective, medically necessary, and often life-saving, transgender patients must navigate a complex and ever-changing array of health insurance policies to obtain coverage for surgery, while simultaneously attempting to update their names and gender markers on identification documents. Furthermore, the poverty rate for transgender people is 29%, twice that of the general population. Lack of economic security compounds issues of access to medical care for low-income transgender people, who also face barriers to public assistance access. Without comprehensive legal assistance across these issues, many transgender people are barred from essential medical care, economic security, and full civic participation.

Milo’s experiences fighting for his own and others’ healthcare have shown him the power of legal advocacy to create meaningful change in people’s lives.

Fellowship Plans

During his Fellowship, Milo will utilize the medical-legal partnership between Legal Council for Health Justice and Howard Brown Health to provide holistic legal services to transgender clients. He will represent clients facing insurance denials for transition-related healthcare. He will offer legal assistance with the processes of name and gender marker changes on vital records. Additionally, he will advocate for clients’ economic security by providing comprehensive legal assistance with public benefits.

Media

Four Northeastern Law Students Awarded Equal Justice Works Fellowships

Trans people are in the practice of relying on each other for access to medical care and other resources. This project is an extension of that mutual support.

Milo Vieland /
2022 Equal Justice Works Fellow