Social Justice Accelerator

We're looking for five new projects that will fuel social change.

 

WHAT IS THE SOCIAL JUSTICE ACCELERATOR?

For over thirty years, the Urban Justice Center has provided a platform for dynamic advocates to fuel social change, successfully incubating innovative and impactful advocacy projects. The UJC will now more intentionally expand this work with our new Social Justice Accelerator (SJA). The SJA will award up to five people the opportunity and resources to develop their early-stage projects focused on social justice initiatives. Awards will be for a one-year period, with the opportunity and intention to extend it for a second year. The Social Justice Accelerator at UJC is looking to bring in dynamic people and teams who will make important impacts on significant social justice issues, leading the way for a just, fair and decent society.

WHO IS ELIGIBLE TO APPLY?

The Social Justice Accelerator is open to ideas and early stage organizations aimed at making a significant impact on social justice issues. We welcome lawyers, advocates, writers, artists, and anyone else with a vision and a plan. The SJA is designed for folks who are passionate about their idea and determined to bring it to life – and the SJA’s support will be instrumental to helping make it a reality. 

UJC’s strength is born from its model that allows each project to bring their vision to life by determining their own programming and strategy, with the benefit of UJC’s shared services, support and community/social justice knowledge and experience. Projects with more than one person are welcome to apply; although projects may be offered only one free space in the program, to be determined based on the application.  Overhead cost at the UJC for additional onsite staff is approximately $20,000 per person for the 2018-2019 year. 

Participating projects will be expected to incorporate separately during the one or two-year period.  The UJC will offer guidance and assistance with this process, including matching projects with pro bono legal help. Projects that have already incorporated are welcome to apply. At the end of the one or two year period, there may be an opportunity to continue to be based in UJC’s offices alongside UJC’s anchor projects, while paying for overhead costs at the regular rate.   

 

 

OFFERINGS

Participants awarded space at UJC’s office will enjoy, at no cost, the same administrative and office support as all other UJC staff in the New York office. This includes:

· Mentorship and advisement from the legal experts of the Urban Justice Center

· Fiscal sponsorship from UJC for projects that are not yet separately incorporated and/or do not have their 501c3 status

· Assistance with accounting, finance, payroll, and benefits (depending on the stage of the project and the preferences of the participant)

· A desk, chair, desktop computer, landline phone, and full access and use of UJC’s full-floor office facilities

· Cost-free standard use of printing, faxing, postage, office supplies and conference rooms

· When available, space to accommodate temporary interns or volunteers

· Assistance with branching into an independent 501c3 (if desired) at the end of the incubation period


APPLICATION TIMELINE AND SUBMISSION

Applications are due on December 1, 2018. UJC will conduct interviews on a rolling basis, and make final decisions by January 31, 2019.  

Please submit all materials and questions to: 
socialjusticeaccelerator@urbanjustice.org

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

PLEASE SELECT EACH QUESTION TO REVEAL AN ANSWER.

What is SJA?

To kick this off, we want to say that this is a new program! The UJC has been incubating amazing social justice projects for more than 30 years, but there was never a formal program in place like the SJA. However, we are in a moment in time when entrepreneurs and disruptors have never been more impactful, and fighting for social justice has never been more important, so we are embracing our role as a platform for dynamic advocates to fuel social change to create a just, fair, and decent society.

The UJC has been the home to innovative social justice projects -- often started by one person (or a few people together) who have a vision on how to make a positive impact in our communities, fighting for the most vulnerable and marginalized, to make our city, our country, and our world a better place. They joined the UJC and were given the platform to focus on their work and making a difference, while the UJC supports them by taking on the operational and administrative heavy lifting, and providing a community in which they can learn, grow, and thrive.

As we proudly spin-off some of our biggest and strongest recent projects, we are positioned to support and promote even more dynamic advocates who are ready to bring their vision of social justice to life. We are now committed to formalizing what we've already been doing, and to learn how to do it even better -- thus, we created the Social Justice Accelerator.

Since the SJA is new, it will not be as structured as an established accelerator or fellowship may be. We expect this to be a bit of a learning lab during the first two years too, figuring out how we can best support and promote the SJA projects within our vibrant UJC community and alongside our strong, established anchor Projects.

Will you give me funding?

The short answer is no. Unlike many typical "accelerators", you will not receive a check or a pot of money to use to get your non-profit started. You will not receive funding that you can use for your salary, cost of fringe benefits, or the direct costs of your program or work.

You will, however, receive a "credit" on your UJC budget, that will cover the cost of all of your overhead expenses while you are part of the SJA (the "Overhead" costs). The value of Overhead for one full-time employee at the UJC for Fiscal Year 2019 is approximately $20,000 per year. All the anchor Projects pay Overhead for each of their employees.

This Overhead covers the cost of your desk at UJC's downtown Manhattan office, and full use of the facilities, the same as every other UJC employee. Many projects think of this as their "all-inclusive rent", because it covers the entire cost of their office space (their desk, furniture, front desk reception, use of conference rooms, utility bills, etc.), and the cost of all the cleaning and other maintenance services for UJC's facilities. This also covers the costs of your office supplies and basic postage (you will have access to the supply and mail rooms, within reason) and copying, printing, and faxing.

Most importantly, the Overhead covers the cost of UJC's shared operational and administrative services, including the overall operations of UJC, front desk, HR, and Finance teams, who will administer your payroll and benefits, and work with you to provide all of your operational, accounting, and budget needs.

So what does UJC give me?

A lot!

First, as explained above, the UJC will cover the entire cost of your Overhead, and the current value is approximately $20,000 per fiscal year for one full-time employee.

Second, if you are not already set up as an independent non-profit with your 501(c)3 status, you will be under UJC’s 501(c)3, benefiting from the tax-exempt status and UJC’s compliance with applicable audit and accounting requirements.

Third, you will have the opportunity to focus on your work and get it started, while UJC’s shared operational and administrative services provide back-office support. You will not only be covered by UJC’s Fiscal Office, but also the HR team, including administering payroll and benefits. You will also be covered by UJC’s commercial insurance policies. As we help you prepare to become a fully functioning, independent organization, you will work closely with UJC’s Fiscal team, meeting monthly to review your budget and your financial planning. You will engage with UJC’s HR team to understand benefits and employee engagement.

Fourth, you will have access to a whole host of intangibles during the SJA. You will have access to opportunities for collaboration with UJC’s other awardees and anchor projects. In addition, projects will benefit from expert guidance of mentors, consultants, instructors and colleagues. For example, Doug Lasdon, UJC's Executive Director, and Sara Solfanelli, UJC's Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel, will be fully accessible to provide support and act as mentors while you build out your vision and determine how to bring it to life practically and ambitiously. You will also enjoy the knowledge and guidance of the Project Directors for each of UJC's anchor projects, who are all leading experts in their fields and have developed and run projects to build out their visions (and continue to!). We are also reaching out to other leading social change makers and advocates who are eager to act as mentors and help our SJA project directors bring their vision to life.

Finally, you will be part of the UJC community, and will sit in an office filled with like-minded people, who are eager to engage and share their experiences and skills, with the common goal to create a just, fair, and decent society.

What funding do I need to have? Do I need to have any?

Yes, you need to have secured funding that will cover your annual salary and the cost of any benefits that you may need. We will work with you to determine your appropriate minimum salary – although benefits are typically 32% of the annual salary, that could vary based on your salary amount. UJC offers generous, robust benefits, which include health and dental coverage, short-term and long term disability, paid parental leave, up to 42 paid days off a year (sick, personal, and vacation), plus all holidays and a winter break, and participation in a 401k plan with a matching employer contribution.

If you do not already have the minimum funding secured, which could be through a fellowship or grant, you must have a substantial portion of it committed and a solid fundraising plan to obtain the remaining amount (and more, to ensure you can cover your programmatic expenses too). We are also open to work with you to figure out how you may be able to join and make it work with the money you do have, or believe you will have, even if it isn't as much as you'd like right now!

Do I have to already have an existing non-profit? Can I already have an existing non-profit?

No, you do not need to already be a formed legal entity. If you already have set up your own legal entity, however, that's fine too!

If you are not already set up as an independent entity, you will need to set up your own, independent legal entity during the term of the SJA. Within the first 3 months, we will work with you to match you to pro bono lawyers or law school clinics who will help you form your own, independent organization; i.e., prepare and file the formation documents, including required policies for the board, and set up a board of directors. We will help you determine how you will obtain business insurance and applicable employment services for your independent entity, once you spin-off from the UJC.

At the end of the SJA, which will be at least 1 full year, but may be up to 2 years, you will spin-off from the UJC and become an independently run organization. UJC will determine with you if you will remain in the SJA for a second year, which will be based on the progress and success of your project and the availability of funding that UJC raises to cover the costs of the SJA. You may have the opportunity to stay in UJC's space after that point. If you stay at the UJC after the conclusion of your SJA term, you will be responsible for paying your full share of the Overhead.

Does UJC take any type of "equity" or ownership of my project?

No. UJC is excited to partner with innovative, impactful social justice projects to help them make a more just, fair, and decent society. The UJC only asks that you acknowledge and represent the relationship with UJC throughout the life of your project, while you are part of SJA and after you spin-off! The unique model of the UJC, however, is that each project has ownership over its work and how it does the work - UJC will not remain on the project's board of directors nor maintain any authority over the project after it spins-off.

While you are at the UJC, of course you will be required to comply with all of UJC’s policies and procedures and the terms and conditions of the SJA program.

Application components

1. Summary

· Project Title and one-page project summary (for our ease of reference)

· Name and Contact Information

· Two references with names and contact information


2. Project Description

In 1,000 - 3,000 words, please include the following:

· Statement of the problem

· Relevant skills, experiences, or personal connection to the problem – why are you the right person/people

· Approach and specific strategy for addressing the problem

· Who else, if anyone, is addressing the issue and how you will do it differently (and more effectively)


3. Funding

· Sources and amounts of your funding for salary and benefits (health, dental and retirement benefits provided by UJC will cost approximately 32% of base salary)

· Other funding already raised

· Current plans for further funding


4. Resume

 

 
 

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE UJC

True pioneers often set out with limited resources, no clear path and no instructions.  Nonetheless, they move boldly forward. In 1984, the Urban Justice Center (UJC) began in much the same way:  working from a burned-out building in East Harlem with almost no funding. They arrived at soup kitchens, jails and shelters – places others would not go – and set up free legal clinics. Today, in spite of social opposition and division, they remain champions of change. The UJC will continue to uplift, nurture and improve the lives of the most vulnerable in our society.

The UJC is a not-for-profit advocacy organization with a unique platform that combines radical freedom with necessary support. UJC’s anchor projects must raise their own operating funds, but then have virtually complete freedom in directing their programs – including, hiring, methods, goals, and daily management. The UJC currently houses twelve projects and employs a staff of over 200 lawyers, researchers, social workers and advocates. Our projects have a long history of making serious impacts on behalf of a wide array of poor and disenfranchised populations. The Social Justice Accelerator is the UJC’s next major project.

Visit us at urbanjustice.org.