Harvard Law School announced in February the creation of the Public Service Venture Fund, which will start by awarding $1 million in grants every year to help graduating students pursue careers in public service.
The first program of its kind at a law school, the fund will offer “seed money” for startup nonprofit ventures and salary support for graduating J.D. students who hope to pursue postgraduate work at nonprofits or government agencies in the United States and abroad.
“This new fund is inspired by our students’ passion for justice,” said Harvard Law School Dean Martha Minow. “It’s an investment that will pay dividends not only for our students, but also for the countless number of people whose lives they will touch during their public service careers.”
The creation of the Public Service Venture Fund is the latest step taken by the law school to offer new forms of assistance to students who are interested in public service careers. In November, Minow announced an increase in the availability of financial aid overall and a broadening of eligibility for the school’s loan relief program.
She also established 12 new Holmes Fellowships for students interested in postgraduate public service work. All told, financial support for students interested in public service has increased by $2.75 million this year.
To obtain support from the new fund, applicants will submit proposals explaining how the postgraduate grants will help them get started in public service. Minow said the fund will bolster the creative thinking of publicly-spirited law graduates at a time when the legal profession itself is becoming more entrepreneurial.
“The new venture fund is exactly in sync with that,” said Professor David Wilkins ’80, the faculty director of the Program on the Legal Profession and the Center on Lawyers and the Professional Services Industry at HLS.“It’s also in sync with the values emphasized in our curriculum, and with our pro bono ethos and our strong emphasis on clinical education, all of which encourage students to think creatively about designing interesting projects and approaches to helping people.”
“When jobs are especially hard to come by, the fund may provide fellowships in order to create jobs,” said Alexa Shabecoff, HLS’s assistant dean for public service. “It will also supplement salaries for graduates hoping to work for nonprofits that can afford to pay for only part-time positions. The fund will offer our students the ability to land the job of their dreams—or create it.”
The Public Service Venture Fund will be governed by a board of senior administrators, faculty members and alumni. Advisers helping as the school launches the fund are:
|Susan Butler Plum,|
director of the Skadden Fellowship Foundation
|Paul Rosenberg ’79,|
a partner at the Bridgespan Group in Boston
|Alan Khazei ’87,|
founder and CEO of Be the Change and co-founder of City Year
|Ken Zimerman ’88,|
a partner at Lowenstein Sandler and chairman of the Lowenstein Center for the Public Interest
|Rebecca Onie ’03,|
co-founder and CEO of Project HEALTH and winner of a 2009 MacArthur “genius grant”
|Alan Jenkins ’89,|
cofounder of The Opportunity Agenda and former director of human rights at the Ford Foundation
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