Apply for an Open Society Grant!

The Open Society Foundations’ Youth Exchange, in partnership with the Human Rights Initiative, is looking for young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities to apply for their Community Youth Fellowships. The fellowships come with an award of up to $60,000 for full-time, 18-month projects (prorated for part-time or 12-month projects).

The Community Youth Fellowships will support activists aged 18–25 who want to complete a project they have created that advances human rights anywhere in the United States. This opportunity is specifically for young persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The young adult should have a connection to their community and want to make a change for the better in it. The projects could include things like criminal justice, using non-disability-specific community resources, workers’ rights, employment, education, health, housing, or immigration, among other subject areas.

Through these fellowships, the Open Society Foundations aim is to help young people beginning their work with the support they need to develop great ideas that help to create a community where everyone is included. Applicants can use a variety of actions to get their work done. They can bring together other people (grassroots organizing), create education tools like PowerPoints and hold classes or meetings for people to learn about their work, record a video, or podcasts to share their message. In addition the project should include advocacy, and coalition building.

Eligibility Criteria

  • Applicants should be a young person with an intellectual or developmental disability between the ages of 18 and 25. Their proposed projects must focus on human rights in the United States.
  • Applicants must be beginning their careers or advocacy work, have and want to learn more about what it takes to be an effective activist.
  • Applicants that have tried to make changes within their community before but may not have been as successful as they hoped to be should also apply. People who want to see specific changes in the services and supports that affect people with disables and have an idea about what changes can be made should also apply.
  • Applicants with intellectual and developmental disabilities who may need support to be successful are also strongly encouraged to apply. Effective and meaningful support will be provided to ensure the candidate is successful.

Ineligibility Criteria

The Open Society Youth Exchange Fellowship does not fund the following:

  • Enrollment in an academic institution for degree or non-degree study, including dissertation research. However, candidates who apply for a part-time fellowship may continue their academic studies on their personal time.
  • Lobbying. Please carefully review our tax law lobbying rules before submitting an application. If awarded a fellowship, applicants must agree to refrain from engaging in restricted lobbying activities during the term of the fellowship.


To apply, applicants must complete the online form by April 21, 2017. Once registered, applicants will be able to proceed to the application itself, and upload the following documents:

  • Resume or bio: no more than two pages
  • Letter of intent: a single-spaced letter of intent (maximum of two pages) structured according to the template you will find online. The letter of intent can be submitted instead as a video or sound recording (maximum of four minutes) covering the same points in the template

Complete guidelines in English, Spanish, and an easy-to-read version are available in the Download Files section on this page. If you have questions or experience technical difficulties with the online application form, please contact the Youth Exchange at

Selection and Notification Cycle

  • Letters of intent due: April 21, 2017 (11:59 p.m. EDT)
  • Full proposals invited: late-April 2017 (only those applicants who have been selected to submit a full proposal will be contacted)
  • Full proposals due: May–June 2017
  • Finalists selected: June 2017
  • Finalist interviews: June–July 2017
  • Selected fellows notified: June–July 2017
  • Projects begin: No earlier than July 2017