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The Public Service Venture Fund supports two different types of postgraduate fellowships. It provides “seed money” for startup public interest ventures (seed grants) and salary support to graduating Harvard Law School students who hope to pursue post-graduate work at nonprofits or government agencies in the United States and abroad (existing organization-based fellowships). Each of these two fellowships has a separate application process, although some application materials are common to both fellowships, and we encourage those applying for seed grants to apply for an organization-based fellowship as well.
The applications for the Public Service Venture Fund will be online soon. Check back at this site for updates. Application materials will be submitted through an online form.
Deadlines: Seed grant applications are due on October 29, 2013. Existing organization-based fellowship applications are due on March 3, 2014.
Updated application information is available at the links below so that interested applicants may prepare their applications in advance of the submission deadlines.
Q. What is a public service organization?
A. Any organization offering services intended for the benefit of the general public is considered a public service organization. Examples include organizations designed to pursue access to justice, serve environmental objectives, aid a low-income population, or improve access to healthcare for all individuals.
Q. Who is eligible to apply for a Venture Fund seed grant or organization-based fellowship?
A. The Selection Committee invites any 3L to apply for a fellowship at an existing organization. Judicial Law Clerks who graduated in 2013 or later, and who have not worked at another organization before clerking, are also eligible.
Harvard Law School alumni may apply to the Venture Fund for one of the limited number of seed grants provided that the proposed organization is in its initial stages and has few available funding sources; there will be a preference for funding current students and alumni at the early stages of their career, but any alumni who might otherwise have difficulty accessing early-stage funding will be eligible.
Between equally qualified applicants, preference will be given to those who have not already received a law school-funded fellowship or PSI.
Q. What kinds of sponsoring organizations are eligible to host the salary fellowships?
A. Non-profit and government agencies are eligible sponsoring organizations.
Q. For the seed grants, what kinds of projects will the Venture Fund support?
A. The Selection Committee welcomes 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. The projects are not required to be law-related, and they may be based anywhere in the world. Seed grant organizations must be (501)(c)(3)s during the two years they are funded by the Harvard Law School Public Service Venture Fund but may convert to another form once no longer receiving Harvard Law School funding.
Q. Are there any funding priorities for the Venture Fund?
A. There is no preference for work on a particular issue. Among competing applicants, the Venture Fund prioritizes projects that address the greatest need and/or possess the potential for greatest impact.
Q. Can I apply for both the seed grant and the existing organization-based fellowship?
A. Yes, you may apply for both fellowships in the same year. You must submit a separate application for each fellowship.
Q. How many of each type of fellowship will be awarded each year?
A. The number of fellowships will vary from year to year and will depend upon the number of successful fellowship applicants in each category. Last year we awarded two seed grants and thirteen organization-based PSVF Fellowships. We also awarded two Skirnick Fellowships and four Kaufman Fellowships.
Q. How much financial support does each fellow receive?
A. Organization-based fellows will receive $45,000 for one year. Seed grant fellows will receive $80,000 for individual recipients per year, with the expectation of renewal for a second year; this would include $45,000 in salary.
Q. May teams of applicants apply for the seed grant component?
A. Yes. Two Harvard Law School students/graduates may submit a joint proposal that will be eligible for $125,000 – with $45,000 each in salary and shared overhead. Harvard Law School students may also apply with one external partner, but we will only provide funding to the Harvard Law School team member. In limited cases, we will be open to more than two partners in a social venture.
Q. How should I submit my transcript?
A. You will upload an electronic copy of your transcript to the online application submission form. We accept both unofficial transcripts and scans of official transcripts.
Q. I have already applied to other fellowships to pursue my project. Am I still eligible to receive support from the Public Service Venture Fund?
A. Yes. Applicants are highly encouraged to apply to all possible funding sources available to them. If a successful PSVF candidate receives another fellowship for an amount less than PSVF would provide, PSVF may provide partial funding to make up the difference.
Q. After I submit my application, what are the next steps?
A. Seed grant semi-finalists will be interviewed in late November. Finalists will be selected in early December and interviewed in early February. Decisions will be announced in mid-March. Existing Organization-Based Fellowship semi-finalists will be interviewed in April, and awards will be announced in mid-May.
Questions about the PSVF should be directed to Alexa Shabecoff, Chair of the Venture Fund and OPIA Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions about the application process should be directed to Judy Murciano, OPIA's Associate Director and Director of Fellowships, at email@example.com.
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