Public Service Venture Fund



Creating more opportunities for careers in public service by investing in entrepreneurial lawyers with a passion for social and economic justice.

Inspired by Harvard Law School alumni who have used their degrees and experience to pursue innovative methods of social change, the Public Service Venture Fund will award up to $1 million in grants every year to Harvard Law graduates pursuing careers in public service. 

The first program of its kind at a law school, the fund offers "seed money" for startup nonprofit ventures to students and alumni and salary support to graduating J.D. students and judicial law clerks for postgraduate work at nonprofit or government agencies in the United States and abroad. 


You have the opportunity for Harvard Law School to launch the career of your dreams. 

To obtain support from the fund, Harvard Law School applicants will submit proposals explaining how the postgraduate grants will help them get started in public service. The fund will support the creativity of Harvard Law students and graduates seeking innovative ways to make a difference. 



Harvard Law School will provide funding for any project that is in an early stage, innovative (does not duplicate effective existing services), sustainable (will attract further funding or be able to generate its own funds), and furthers social justice. Any Harvard Law School 3Ls or J.D. alumni may apply to the Venture Fund for a Seed Grant to start a new nonprofit or to support one provided that the proposed organization is in its initial stages and has few available funding sources.  For more information, see the Seed Grant Details page. 

Applications by students and alumni for the Seed Grants are due to the Bernard Koteen Office of Public Interest Advising by October 23rd, 2014 and final decisions will be announced in mid-March.


Harvard Law School provides a number of fully-funded fellowships to support one year of work by a graduating HLS student or outgoing judicial law clerk at a host organization. These fellowships include the Public Service Venture Fund (PSVF), the Kaufman Fellowship, the Skirnick Fellowship, and the One Day’s Work Fellowship; all are administered by the Bernard Koteen Office of Public Interest Advising and share the same parameters.

These fellowships help launch the careers of Harvard Law School students pursuing a career in public interest/public service.  At the same time, they provide under-funded nonprofits and government agencies with low cost and talented labor to the benefit of the host organizations’ communities, clients and causes.  

Fortunately, most HLS students and graduates continue to land external fellowships and full-time positions in a very competitive climate. However, because there are so many talented and committed students seeking public interest/government work at a time when there are not enough job openings, this fund is meant to create new openings. The HLS fellowships are thus designed to augment, rather than replace, the external job and fellowship opportunities available to HLS students and graduates. Further, it is the intention of the fund that the fellowship year will help students secure a post-fellowship position either at the host organization or within the general field and location of the host organization.  The rules and guidelines for both students and employers have been designed to reflect these goals. For more information, see the Organization-Based Fellowship Details page.   

Applications by students and clerks for the Organization-Based Fellowships, including the Letter of Sponsorship from the organization (see Apply), are due to the Bernard Koteen Office of Public Interest Advising by March 2nd, 2015 and decisions will be announced in May.  

Learn more about ways to 
make a gift to support the 
Public Service Venture Fund.

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Last modified: May 12, 2015

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