2025 Design-Your-Own Fellowship Applications are Open

Learn More & Apply

Brenda Rosas

The Project

Brenda (she/her/ella) will work alongside the community to challenge the school pushout of students of color, immigrant students, and English Language Learner students, with a focus on eliminating the school-to-prison pipeline, through direct representation, impact litigation, policy advocacy, and community education in the Inland Empire.

San Bernardino and Riverside Counties (“Inland Empire”) in Southern California have historically struggled and continue to struggle with the school pushout of Black and Indigenous students, immigrant students, and English Language Learner students. School districts in these counties disproportionately discipline and criminalize public school students in these and other protected classes. Grassroots organizations in the region have worked to challenge the school pushout of these students for years, but have lacked sufficient resources, especially given the region’s size and population.

Brenda’s educational experiences exposed her to the disparities and systemic issues in the public education system. Through these experiences, she realized access to education was a rare opportunity for many of her peers, all of whom had the potential to pursue higher education but were continuously pushed out. This ignited her commitment to challenging systemic issues leading to student pushout so that historically excluded students can access an equitable education and pursue higher education.

Fellowship Plans

During her Fellowship, Brenda will represent students and parents in school discipline proceedings and will advocate for less punitive, supportive, and restorative measures. Through this direct representation, she will identify systemic issues disproportionately affecting students of color and immigrant students that can be challenged through impact litigation. In addition, she will work with community organizations to develop and advance campaigns to eliminate harmful policies disproportionately affecting students of color and immigrant students. She will also conduct Know Your Rights trainings in English and Spanish to empower the community and give them the tools to identify issues and enforce their rights.

As a first-generation Chicana and proud daughter of Mexican immigrants, I’m passionate about working towards transformative justice for students of color and immigrant students. I’m proud to work in the Inland Empire, a region that mirrors my own community.

Brenda Rosas /
2024 Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

Lucy’s (she/her) project, in partnership with The Legal Revolution, will focus on mitigating the impact of collateral consequences experienced by individuals with previous criminal-justice system involvement through direct representation, community education, policy reform, and impact litigation.

Supportive reentry infrastructure is known to reduce recidivism and financial resources that states invest in confinement. Meanwhile, the absence of such infrastructure excludes certain individuals from participating in and contributing to the fabric of their communities, even after completion of a prison sentence. In Minnesota, the current system subjects justice-impacted individuals to extreme scrutiny and bars them from accessing resources that would allow them to care for themselves and their families, creating intergenerational and community-wide negative impacts. The current system is particularly damaging to Minnesotans of colors because—as in the rest of the country—Black, Latinx, and American Indian individuals are significantly overrepresented throughout the state’s criminal-legal system.

Fellowship Plans

Lucy’s project will address these issues by providing holistic civil-legal services to justice-impacted individuals, ranging from expungement and clemency petitions to family, housing, and professional licensure matters. Lucy will also work in partnership with community organizations to facilitate community education and community practice spaces to identify areas for affirmative litigation and policy advocacy. Finally, Lucy’s project will incorporate publishing reports and articles, co-authored with justice-impacted individuals, to educate Minnesotans about their rights and the changing criminal-legal system landscape across the state.

Having seen how civil rights lawyers are able to work in lockstep with community organizers and impacted individuals to effect positive social change, I am motivated to use the platform provided by EJW to reimagine a criminal-legal system that truly prioritizes inclusion and rehabilitation, making Minnesota a more equitable state for all.

Lucy Chin /
2024 Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

Expanding Texas Appleseed’s ongoing work in studying, reporting, and advocating for the dismantling of the school-to-prison pipeline, Crystal advocates on behalf of K-12 students and their families to keep students in class and out of court through direct representation, education, and policy reform.

As chronic absenteeism intersects with compounding factors such as poverty, disabilities, and race, a Texas student who is chronically absent in any year between eighth and twelfth grade is 7 times more likely to drop out of school. Although Texas decriminalized student truancy and required schools to apply truancy prevention measures, these proceedings occur instead in justice of the peace and municipal courts, where students do not have the right to counsel, and parents can face fines, fees, and even criminal prosecution for their child’s truancy charges. A truancy charge is often the first interaction many children, especially from communities of color, have with the justice system, collateral consequences that can follow the family for years after the fact and foreshadow future criminal legal involvement.

Crystal’s commitment to education equity stems from both her personal experiences as a first-generation American and college graduate, and her students’ experiences from her tenure as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Taiwan’s rural, indigenous communities. Recognizing the longstanding obstacles of systemic racism and poverty to educational access, she is determined to leverage the skills and expertise she has gained through her J.D./Master’s in Public Affairs education to confront these issues.

Fellowship Plans

During her Fellowship, Crystal will observe and represent K-12 students in civil truancy proceedings in major metropolitan cities around Texas. With an eye towards the upcoming 2025 state legislative session, she will build coalition and engage directly with stakeholders including school districts, state agencies, and community advocates, to draft statewide and local policies to uplift students at risk of chronic absenteeism. Additionally, she will document fines and fees associated with truancy proceedings in Texas and shed light on how they affect impacted families.

“The underlying value is simple: keeping kids in school disrupts the school-to-prison pipeline. Keeping kids in school breaks cycles of court involvement and poverty. Through this fellowship, we champion their right to education—to be in class, not in court.”

Crystal Tran /
2024 Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

Kristen’s (she/her/hers) project with California Indian Legal Services will implement key legal steps in reclaiming and using Indigenous water rights, both site-specifically for California’s Owens Valley and broadly for Indian public domain allottees nationwide.

Kristen’s many prior years of work with Owens Valley Indian Water Commission and California Indian Legal Services will continue through this Equal Justice Works Fellowship. Her project will make major strides in long-term efforts towards #LandBack and #WaterBack.

Needs Addressed by Project

California was founded on uniquely violent genocide against Indigenous people, including mass dispossession of land. California’s first inhabitants have since been barred from meaningfully accessing its most precious resource: water.

This project will address two instances of this injustice: (1) Los Angeles’s erasure of tribal water rights in Owens Valley and (2) barriers to accessing water from Indian public domain allotments facing fractionation, which happens when land is passed down intestate until it is owned by dozens or hundreds of owners.

Fellowship Plans

In Owens Valley, Kristen will establish legal next steps in the long-term campaign to reclaim Owens Valley tribal water rights. It will work closely with the Owens Valley Indian Water Commission to legally analyze a recent dissertation that thoroughly documented the Indigenous Paiute and Shoshone peoples’ water history.

Nationwide, this project will implement novel legal techniques for unifying management of fractionated allotment land. It will work with allotment owners on the ground in Oregon, California, and beyond, empowering them to use previously inaccessible land and appurtenant water rights.

“I have felt connected to California’s water all my life. I am grateful to work with California Indian Legal Services on returning that water to its original stewards.”

Kristen Stipanov /
2024 Equal Justice Works

The Project

Alyosha (he/him/el) will provide representation to monolingual Spanish- and Indigenous language-speaking asylum seekers forced into expedited proceedings, preventing deportations due to persecution in violation of due process, and promoting family unity and safety.

Three expedited deportation dockets, the Dedicated Docket, the Asylum Processing Rule, and Family Expedited Removal Management, disproportionality eject low-income, monolingual Spanish- and Indigenous language-speaking asylum seekers from the United States at distressing rates. These asylum seekers face significant barriers to preparing their defense and accessing attorneys, forcing individuals and families to face an immigration judge or asylum officer within ten months to less than one week. Practitioners cannot meet the surging demand, resulting in deportations back to persecution.

Asylum seekers on expedited dockets require an all-inclusive strategy that entails direct advocacy, comprehensive training, and support from community allies to prevent cruel deportations in violation of due process.

Fellowship Plans

Alyosha will directly represent asylum seekers confronting expedited removal procedures before immigration judges and asylum officers. He will negotiate with the government to remove dehumanizing surveillance shackles and curfews from asylum seekers, interrupting racially discriminatory practices and criminalizing stigmas. Finally, he will employ “Know Your Rights” trainings for asylum seekers and technical assistance for school district staff, pro bono attorneys, and other community partners working on behalf of asylum seekers in expedited proceedings.

My community, family, and ancestors guide me to serve and fight on behalf of Indigenous and Latinx people—my people—so they can achieve a life of respect and dignity.

Alyosha Maggin /
2023 Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

Blair (they/them)’s project will help anchor QTBIPOC care networks within their neighborhoods by providing space-related transactional legal services to QTBIPOC-led mutual aid organizations in New York City, and advocating for community land ownership policies.

New York City is in its worst affordability crisis in two decades, with an estimated 50% of New Yorkers not earning enough to meet their basic needs, and QTBIPOC communities are some of the most vulnerable to destabilization and displacement. As hubs of community care and organizing, mutual aid networks are critical to ensuring that these communities weather this crisis and can build secure futures in their neighborhoods on their terms. However, QTBIPOC-led mutual aid organizations across the city are struggling to retain space in their neighborhoods, operating in a hypercompetitive market against sophisticated landlords. There is an immediate need for basic transactional legal services to prevent these spaces from being uprooted, as well as educational resources and policy advocacy to help them endure long-term.

Fellowship Plans

During their Fellowship, Blair will provide direct representation to QTBIPOC-led mutual aid groups on space-related transactional matters, such as lease negotiations, entity formation, property tax exemption, corporate compliance, subleasing arrangements, and governance structures. Additionally, Blair will create trainings and resources tailored to acquiring and maintaining space for mutual aid in New York City to allow these groups to navigate common issues without an attorney. Lastly, Blair will collaborate with larger NYC coalitions to fight for policies that make it easier for land to come into the control of community organizations like these at low or no cost.

I am honored and grateful to support the legacy of many Black trans and queer ancestors who came before me and built their own networks of safety and freedom out of necessity, refusing to be erased.

Blair Childs-Biscoe /
2024 Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

Rita’s (she/hers) project will focus on removing future barriers to education, employment, and housing for students in Chicago by increasing their access to juvenile record expungement.

A juvenile arrest creates a record that follows children into adulthood, including appearing in background checks for jobs in healthcare, security, and education. Though many juvenile records are eligible to be expunged, there is a gap in getting these expungement services to children, as they often do not know that they have a juvenile record or that it can have significant consequences. Increasing awareness of and access to juvenile record expungement services for children and their parents early on can disrupt the compounding effects of first arrests and proactively eliminate significant future barriers to education, employment, housing, and more.

Fellowship Plans

During her Fellowship, Rita will develop deep partnerships between her host organization of Legal Aid Chicago and local schools and community organizations who serve students who have had interactions with the juvenile legal system. In addition to giving presentations about the availability and importance of juvenile record expungement, she will develop referral relationships with these schools and community organizations, enabling them to refer students directly to Legal Aid Chicago’s juvenile expungement services. She will also personally represent clients in their juvenile expungement cases.

I want to live in a world where people’s future opportunities are not determined by something that happened when they were children, and I am excited to work toward that vision by increasing access to juvenile record expungement.

Rita Hirami /
2024 Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

Rachel’s (she/her) project provides rapid relief to low-income tenants who are at high risk of homelessness through self-help programs, direct representation, and educational outreach that aim to decrease and set aside default judgments in eviction cases.

After a tenant is served with an eviction case, they have just five days to file an Answer with the court. For tenants who do not file in time, the tenant and household receive a default judgment and are immediately evicted without the opportunity to defend themselves. Even though a staggering 40% of tenants in Los Angeles County receive default judgments in eviction cases, most legal service organizations do not offer substantive help at this post-judgment stage. The high number of defaults is a racial justice issue, with Black and Latinx individuals twice as likely to rent as white individuals and much more likely to receive defaults in eviction cases. Once defaulted, individuals face the loss of their homes, lower credit scores, and permanent eviction records that create barriers to future housing.

Los Angeles hosts over 75,000 unhoused individuals, and keeping tenants in their homes is one of the best ways to curb further homelessness. Providing rapid legal assistance in the first few days following a default can be the turning point that allows tenants and their families to remain in their homes.

Fellowship Plans

To advance her project goals, Rachel is partnering with the Shriver Self-Help Center at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse in Downtown Los Angeles, which often sees over 50 default judgments in a week. Rachel plans to create efficient legal solutions to help tenants file motions to set aside their defaults, while also building a library of self-help materials, leading a team of student volunteers, and hosting educational clinics in areas of Los Angeles with the highest number of defaults.

My project allows me to connect with my neighbors and collaborate with my community in a way that educates and empowers Los Angeles’ tenants and allows all of us to work together towards preventing further homelessness.

Rachel S. Fox /
2024 Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

Megan’s (she/her) project focuses on protecting the family home and building generational wealth in Baltimore’s predominantly Black, low-income communities by increasing resident access to the legal system and advocating for legislative changes that reduce barriers for homeowners to pass property to family members.

When property is not effectively passed by deed or probate, a family home’s title becomes “tangled,” contributing to home loss because homeowners do not qualify for most relief programs when they are not the record owner of the home. Local data suggests there are at least 3,000 tangled title properties in Baltimore, disproportionately impacting Black families. Creating opportunities for low-income families to access the legal system to preserve their home, and working to change laws that keep the recording system out-of-reach for low-income residents is an urgent need in Baltimore City this project seeks to address.

Fellowship Plans

Megan will launch a new Life Estate Deed Clinic and develop a roadmap based on lessons learned to assist other organizations in advancing access to life estate deeds. Megan will also engage in coalition-building to promote statewide legislative changes that reduce barriers for low-income homeowners to pass property.

It is a privilege to help low-income homeowners in Baltimore maintain stable housing and preserve their family wealth by expanding access to basic legal services in historically disenfranchised communities.

Megan Good /
2024 Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

Delaney (she/her) provides legal representation and advocacy for Michigan’s low-income and minority voters to access absentee or in-person ballots without intimidation and tactics intended to subvert election results.

During the 2022 election, partisan operatives trained poll workers and poll watchers to accuse individuals of voter fraud and escalate the situation by calling the police with the apparent intention of sending them to flood high-minority areas to disrupt elections and harass voters. Delaney’s project seeks to combat new forms of voter intimidation and disenfranchisement that disproportionately target low-income voters and voters of color.

Fellowship Plans

Building on the ACLU of Michigans work protecting voters, Delaney will sue individuals and organizations seeking to suppress the vote of marginalized voters and election clerks who threaten voters’ access to absentee ballots or early voting. Additionally, she will work with grassroots organizers and partner organizations to engage with clerks statewide and ensure that voters can exercise their right to an absentee ballot or early voting. During her fellowship, Delaney will also litigate on behalf of voters who have been intimidated by poll watchers or other actors.

As a woman of color from a low-income background, the U.S. Constitution had to be amended three times for me to exercise the right to vote. Voting has always been important to me. I'm honored and proud that my work can help ensure that historically marginalized voters, particularly Black, Indigenous, and low-income voters in Michigan are not denied their right to the ballot.

Delaney Barker /
2023 Equal Justice Works Fellow