Beyond The Bars 2021-2022 Applications Now Open

June 22, 2021

The Beyond the Bars Fellowship is a certificate-based program through the Center for Justice at Columbia University that offers interdisciplinary leadership to develop and deepen your identity, analysis, skills and network towards ending mass criminalization and incarceration, and creating a more just and safe world. It meets weekly for approximately eight months. Through seminars, workshops and guest lectures, Fellows explore their own experiences and identities as people working for social change; gain a theoretical and practical understanding of mass incarceration; and are introduced to various models of social change including community organizing, legislative advocacy, restorative and transformative justice, communications and more. In addition, Fellows identify issues and existing efforts for change and then work together to develop advocacy and / or organizing projects to further support those efforts. A primary goal of the Fellowship is to support Fellows’ in finding their place in the movement, while offering them the knowledge, skills, experience and community to sustain their work. The Fellowship is made up of students, community members, and formerly incarcerated and directly impacted people. Our aim is to work collaboratively with the university and the community towards social change.

This Fellowship is for people based in the greater New York City area. The Fellowship will begin online in the fall but we will start meeting in person as soon as it's safe.  This could be during the fall, if not, then in the spring.  

Is the Fellowship Right for me?

We aim to bring together Columbia University students with the larger NYC community to create a diverse and rich learning environment that can be mutually beneficial to all Fellows. We encourage people impacted (directly and indirectly) by mass criminalization and incarceration to apply. Please note that extensive experience is not a requirement.  You must reside in New York City or the surrounding areas to participate in the Fellowship.

What will you gain?

  • Leadership Development: Participate in regular seminars, workshops and guest lectures to deepen your understanding of yourself, as well as develop your understanding of justice issues and your capacity to enact change
  • Organizing Experience: Work collaboratively with other Fellows on advocacy and organizing projects
  • A Community of Mentors and Colleagues: The Fellowship is an intentional and experiential learning community that will support your growth as a social justice advocate
  • A Stipend of $1000

All applicants should meet the following:

  • Have a desire to be a part of group learning environment
  • Be able to work collaboratively in a team setting
  • Demonstrate enthusiasm for social justice
  • Commit to fulfill all requirements of the Fellowship

Columbia Fellows that are students must be enrolled at least half-time in an undergraduate or graduate program.

Community Fellows are not enrolled at Columbia University. We encourage applicants who are not students or have not attended college to apply. Students from other colleges and universities in New York City are welcome to apply.


The priority application deadline is Friday July, 23rd.  After that we will be accepting applications on a rolling basis until Friday, July 30th.

To Apply

You can apply using this form (you will need to include your resume / CV)

For any questions you can email: [email protected]

Application Process

  • June 21st - Application Period Opens
  • July 23rd - Priority Application Deadline
  • July 30th - Application Period Closes
  • July 27th - August 6th  – Interviews
  • August 21st - Accepted Applicants are Notified
  • October 5th – Fellowship Starts

Tentative Fellowship Calendar

The Fellowship will meet most Tuesday nights from 6:45-8:45pm starting October 5th and run through mid-April 2022.  All Fellowship meetings will be virtual in the fall and anticipated to be in-person in the spring.

Fall Dates 2021

** We will be virtual in the fall and expect to be in person in the spring**

  • October 5th - Seminar 1 - Introductions
  • October 12th - Seminar 2 - Social Justice Starts with Self
  • October 19th - Seminar 3 - Understanding Power, Privilege and Oppression October 26th - Solidarity Project Introduction
  • November 9th - Seminar 4 - History and Causes of Mass Incarceration and Criminalization
  • November 16th - Seminar 5 - Understanding the Carceral Continuum
  • November 30th - Solidarity Project Workshop
  • December 7th - Seminar 6 - Paradigms of Justice
  • December 14th  - Solidarity Project Workshop

Spring Dates 2022  

** We expect to be in person and some dates are subject to change based on spring break and Beyond the Bars conference dates **

  • Saturday January 15th  – Half Day Long Restorative Justice Training (1-5pm)
  • January 18th  - Solidarity Project Workshop
  • January 25th - Seminar 7 - Introduction to the Movement: Reform to Abolition
  • February 1st - Solidarity Project Workshop
  • February 8th - Seminar 8 - Movement Ecology: Strategies for Change
  • February 15th - Solidarity Project Workshop
  • February 22nd - Seminar 9 - Community Organizing
  • Early March (Dates TBD) - Beyond the Bars Conference
  • March 15th - Solidarity Project Workshop
  • March 22nd - Seminar 11 - Fellowship Reflections
  •  April 8th-10th - Closing Retreat