Open Society Foundations, started and funded by noted philanthropist George Soros, announces its 2017 Soros Equality Fellows

The goal of the Soros Equality Fellowship, an initiative started by the Open Society Foundations, is to help mid-career professionals become leaders in the area of racial justice. The seven fellows chosen will receive stipends ranging from $80000 to $100000 to support projects over the course of 12 to 18 months, according to a press release dated March 20, 2017.

Leslie Gross-Davis, director of the Equality team within the US Programs at the Open Society Foundation, stated in a press release that: “While the magnitude of the challenge is daunting, the inaugural class of Soros Equality Fellows gives me hope for the future. Their energy, creativity and determination to tackle even the longest odds are an inspiration.”


The impressive list of winners and their projects include:

Alice Hom, who has a PhD in history and is the director of the Queer Justice Fund, wants to create a digital library that features the oral histories of trans and queer people of color so that their stories can be shared to future generations.

Deepa Iyer, a South Asian American activist and trial lawyer, wants to create a platform, presumably online, to provide racial justice organizations with the tools needed to enhance coalition building, organizing and solidarity.

Leah Penniman, a co-director of Soul Fire Farm and former high school science teacher, wants to train farm activists of color and also wants to focus on the rights of farmworkers.

Purvi Shah, a co-founder of Law4BlackLives and former director of the Bertha Justice Institute at the Center for Constitutional Rights, wants to build a hub (again presumably online) that will promote experimentation and collaboration among attorneys working on racial justice issues.

David Felix Sutcliffe, an independent documentary filmmaker and maker of (T)error, wants to use his stipend to create a documentary musical that explores the mainstream media’s role in spreading Islamophobia, and also a series of short films exploring the role of discrimination in topical news stories.

Rachel Swarns, a New York Times reporter and the author “American Tapestry: The Story of the Black, White and Multiracial Ancestors of Michelle Obama”, will use her money to help her research the role that slavery played at Georgetown University.

Hank Willis Thomas, a conceptual photo artist whose work has been displayed at the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, wants to use his fellowship to use the tools of contemporary advertising to create a campaign that explores and discredits falsehoods in the racial narrative of the United States.

George Soros, whose net worth is estimated to be 25.2 billion according to Forbes magazine, plans to give away more than 11 billion dollars in his lifetime on various efforts to improve society worldwide.

Read more about George’s life story at