In November 1996, California voters passed Proposition 209, a voter initiative that ended affirmative action programs in California state-sponsored higher education. The effect of Prop. 209 was devastating in its reduction of the number of students of color attending the UC Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall), which had previously been considered one of the most diverse law schools in the nation.
Established in 1997, the Phoenix Fellowship was created in response to Prop 209. It was designed first, to encourage students of color to choose Boalt, and second, to support public interest work among these students.
Funded by an Annual Auction Extravaganza in the Fall semester the Phoenix Fellowship has been enormously successful.
Each entering fellow will be awarded a $9,000 grant intended to assist with the fellow’s tuition and/or living expenses during his/her first year of law school at Boalt Hall.
However, if the total proceeds from grants (not loans), scholarships, and fellowships awarded to any one fellow exceed the annual student budget set for that year, as determined by financial aid, the Phoenix Fellowship amount will be reduced by the amount in excess of the budget. The amount deducted will be carried over to the following school year to be distributed to the fellow subject to the same conditions.
BLF will distribute the grant in installments during the course of the fellow’s first year in law school, providing half of the grant for the year at the beginning of the first semester and the remainder at the beginning of the second semester.
In addition, the fellow will be awarded a stipend during the summer following the fellow’s first year in law school.
This stipend will be awarded for the fellow to carry out a ten-week project consistent with the criteria set out in Section II.
The maximum amount a fellow can earn during his/her first summer is the maximum amount other BLF summer grant recipients can earn. If the fellow’s total income for the summer (including wages, work study and other grants/fellowships) exceeds the maximum amount prescribed by BLF for its other summer grants, the Phoenix Fellowship summer grant amount will be reduced by the amount in excess of the maximum award.
The fellow will also be awarded a stipend to carry out a second ten-week project following the fellow’s second year in law school.
The project must be consistent with the criteria set out in Section II.
Participation in the second year of the Fellowship may be waived at the fellow’s option. If the fellow elects not to participate in the second year of the fellowship, no additional award will be provided by BLF.
CRITERIA FOR SUMMER PROJECTS BY PHOENIX FELLOWS
The fellow’s summer work must further the BLF purpose of providing public interest legal work aiding disadvantaged or underrepresented groups. The funded projects must have some practical aim such as:
- The writing of a handbook designed to promote the legal rights of disadvantaged minorities, victims of race, sex, physical handicap, age or other discrimination, or those denied human rights in criminal or civil matters;
- Assisting lay persons in effecting their legal rights;
- The drafting of model statutes;
- Litigation in the public interest or for the benefit of disadvantaged minorities, victims of race, sex, physical handicap, age, or other discrimination, or those denied human rights in civil and criminal matters; or
- Rendering of legal services to some specific and underrepresented group.
While the Berkeley Law Foundation recognizes the value of the following types of work, the Phoenix Fellowship will not be used to fund projects with the following goals or subjects: work for governmental organizations (except for public defenders), pure lobbying activity, pure community organizing, or pure environmental conservation work.