Anti-Racism Grantmaking Program (ARGP)

As part of its ongoing efforts to advance racial justice in the Columbia community and beyond, the Law School has created Anti-Racism Grantmaking Program (ARGP) in recognition of the continuing need to combat structural racism in our society and of the unique role that law and legal institutions can play in accelerating this change. The goal of the ARGP is to provide both financial and non-financial assistance to members of the Law School community for projects that will help dismantle racially subordinating policies, structures, or systems or otherwise help promote racial equity and inclusion.

Below, learn more about the 2022-2023 grant recipients. 

A Jailhouse Lawyer's Manual

About the Project: First published in 1978, A Jailhouse Lawyer’s Manual is a practical legal resource that provides incarcerated people with the information they need to exercise their rights across a wide range of issue areas. The Manual has more than 40 chapters on topics ranging from challenging unlawful convictions to securing adequate medical care while in prison. This grant will help provide free copies of the Manual to incarcerated people across the US.

"Best Days" Podcast

About the Project: Through a podcast and photo series, this project aims to share stories to influence how law students and lawyers think about their role in the criminal legal system, and how those entering the criminal legal field perform their job. Each thirty to forty minute episode will feature a formerly incarcerated individual.

Black Men's Initiative

About the Project: Black Men's Initiative hopes to address the glaring lack of Black men in the legal profession and in professional spaces, generally. In celebration of Paul Robeson's graduation from Columbia Law School a hundred years ago this year, this project aims to bring together Black men from around the University to discuss their experiences at Columbia in a roundtable forum. 

Centering Community Voices: A Jailhouse Lawyer's Manual and Center for Institutional and Social Change 

About the Project: This project is a collaboration between A Jailhouse Lawyer's Manual and the Center for Institutional and Social Change that seeks to improve the resources available to incarcerated self-represented individuals by developing and piloting a content editing process that centers on the full representation of incarcerated populations. 

Racial Literacy for Racial Justice

About the Project: The mission of Racial Literacy for Racial Justice is to foster racial literacy at Columbia Law School via curricular reform and extracurricular engagement. It aims for every Columbia Law School graduate to receive a legal education that furnishes them with the racial literacy they need to effectively combat systemic injustice, deconstruct social hierarchies, and reconstruct a more just and equitable society.  

Marka Belinfanti, Assistant Director of Pro Bono and Summer Programs, Columbia Law School

Rosemary Dodemaide, Associate Director for Budget and Finance, Columbia Law School

Peter Harvey, Partner, Patterson Belknap

Kathryn Judge, Chair of the Columbia Law School Anti-Racist Coordinating Committee, Vice Dean for Intellectual Life, Harvey J. Goldschmid Professor of Law, Columbia Law School

Jin Hee Lee, Director of Strategic Initiatives, NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF)

Andrea McChristian, Policy Research Director, Southern Poverty Law Center

Lynnise E. Pantin, Pritzker Pucker Family Clinical Professor of Transactional Law, Founding Director of the Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic, Columbia Law School

Dennis D. Parker, Executive Director, National Center for Law and Economic Justice (NCLEJ) 

Erica Smock, Assistant Dean and Dean for Social Justice Initiatives & Public Service Lawyering, Columbia Law School

Jessica Valdes Jimenez, Executive Director of Student Services, Community Engagement, and Equity, Columbia Law School

Terms of the grants. Up to five grants will be awarded for the 2022-23 academic year. Total project budgets may range in size from a few thousand dollars up to $15,000. Grantees may use their awards to pay for student stipends, project expenses, or both. Grantees will also be given opportunities to engage with the Law School community about their work and its impact.

  • Eligibility. Grants are available to support projects conducted by current Columbia Law School students, faculty, and staff. Applications may be submitted by individuals, groups of individuals, or CLS organizations. Strong preference will be given to applications that include student participation and provide mentorship to, or capacity-building opportunities for, students.

  • Proposal requirements. Applicants must demonstrate a commitment to combating racial injustice and present a proposal that clearly states the goal(s), projected milestones, intended deliverable(s), and budget for the project. Applicants must also demonstrate that grants will support new racial justice work, although this work may be developed as part of a preexisting program. Absent good cause, grants may not be used for general operating expenses for pre-existing programs.

  • Student stipends. Applicants may apply for funding to cover stipends for students, in addition to other costs of implementing their projects. Stipends may be up to $3,000 per student and total stipend payments may not exceed $9,000 within a single project. (Project expenses will be funded separately.) A student may not receive both course credit or research assistant credit and stipend support simultaneously for the same project work.

  • Support. In addition to (a) student stipends and (b) reasonable expenses and costs, other available ARGP support can include: (c) assistance in connecting with scholars, advocates, administrators, or racial justice experts to help advise on the project; (d) periodic check-ins for assistance from the grant administrator; (e) community- building opportunities with other grantees; and (f) opportunities to educate the Columbia community about the project.

Applications for 2022-2023 will open on December 6, 2022.  Successful applications will be announced by the end of February 2023 and will be funded for 4- to 12-month terms. Grantees must submit a progress report at the midpoint of their grant and a final report at the conclusion of the project. A committee consisting of Law School faculty, administrators, and others will select the ARGP grantees. Selection committee members are not eligible to apply and must recuse themselves in cases involving projects with which they are personally associated. Successful applicants should be prepared to start their projects upon announcement of awards in February 2023; funds will be disbursed no later than four weeks following the announcement.

For questions, please contact email [email protected]

Download the 2022-2023 Application 

A Jailhouse Lawyer's Manual

Project Member: Kristen Marie Schnell '22 and A Jailhouse Lawyer's Manual

About the Project: First published in 1978, A Jailhouse Lawyer’s Manual is a practical legal resource that provides incarcerated people with the information they need to exercise their rights across a wide range of issue areas. The Manual has more than 40 chapters on topics ranging from challenging unlawful convictions to securing adequate medical care while in prison. This grant will help provide free copies of the Manual to incarcerated people across the US.

You Belong Here: Dismantling Unconscious Bias in Our Admissions Practices

Project Member: Jill Casal, Executive Director, Office of Graduate Degree Programs  

About the Project: This project aims to help remove bias in our admissions processes; increase awareness of our institutional commitment to creating inclusive and anti-racist admissions practices and an inclusive community at the admissions and recruitment stage; and provide professional development for staff to advance these initiatives.

Portrait Project 2.0

Project Members: Sophia Han '23, Emily Park '22, Jerry Du '23, and Emma Li '23

About the Project: This project aims to address the issue of minority attrition at law firms, with particular attention to Asian American attorneys. There is currently no comprehensive study that examines the reasons Asian American lawyers decide to leave law firms or why they are leaving at such higher rates than other minority lawyers. This project will employ quantitative and qualitative research methods to examine this issue.

Restorative Justice Initiative at CLS

Project Members: Jessica Gadea Hawkins '22, Elias Passas '24, Samuel Sontag '24, Angela Larsen '24, Jane Eleni Irons '24, and William Oh '24

About the Project: The Restorative Justice Initiative at Columbia Law School aims to create infrastructure to expose and train law students in Restorative Justice practices. The Initiative is student-led and seeks to help students understand a practical alternative to incarceration such that it informs their lawyering going forward, particularly for those interested in criminal and other social justice practices.

Alabama Parole Advocacy Project

Project Members: Maggie Hadley '22, Emma Alzner '24, and Priyanka Radhakrishnan '24

About the Project: The Alabama Parole Advocacy Project is a student-run pro bono pilot project that draws on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC’s) institutional knowledge of Alabama prisons and parole. This project will advance racial justice by addressing disparities in incarceration and access to legal assistance. Since its launch in August 2021, student advocates have begun to develop training materials and have managed cases. In addition to representing and securing release for clients, this project will assist SPLC’s parole reform initiatives, which are focused on racial justice.

Global Movements for Black Lives: Deepening CLS’s Engagement With Activism, Justice, and Law on Both Sides of the Atlantic

Project Leaders: Udodilim Njideka Nnamdi ’21; Anjli Parrin ’17, Associate Director, Project on War Crimes and Mass Graves, Human Rights Institute; Lauren Richardson ’23; and Nancy Stephen ’22
About the Project: The project will advance racial justice by deepening opportunities for members of the Columbia Law community to learn about, engage with, and advance global movements for Black lives. The project will support the development of a reading group on global racial justice issues, advance efforts to increase diversity at Columbia Law, and increase experiential and practical opportunities for Law School students to work in sub-Saharan Africa.

The Black Men’s Initiative @ CLS

Project Leaders: Damonta Morgan ’22 and Paul Riley ’22
About the Project: The Black Men’s Initiative @ CLS (BMI@CLS) cultivates an intentional community among Black men who are, or have studied, at Columbia Law School through platforms such as a website, mentorship program, and events.

Law School Pathways Program

Project Leaders: Iris Carbonel ’22, Stephanie Nnadi ’22, and Stacy Okoro ’22
About the Project: The Columbia Law School Pathways Program aids first-generation, low-income, and minority students from the Harlem/Bronx/Uptown area who are considering attending law school. The mission of the program is to foster ties between Columbia and its surrounding communities, increase true diversity and representation within the legal profession, and uplift traditionally forgotten groups.

Columbia Law School and the Legacies of Slavery

Project Leaders: Katherine Franke, James L. Dohr Professor of Law; Black Law Students Association; and Empowering Women of Color
About the Project: Professor Franke is leading a research team at Columbia University documenting the relationship of Law School to slavery and its contemporary legacies. This project will examine questions such as: What relationship did our founding faculty, students, curriculum, and financing bear to slavery? And what have been the enduring legacies of anti-Black racism at the Law School?

Lawyering and the Quest for a Multiracial Democracy

Project Leaders: Marica Wright ’22; Olatunde Johnson, Jerome B. Sherman Professor of Law; and Sneha Pandya ’21
About the Project: As part of the project, the team will produce a six-episode podcast, designed to address the question of how members of the legal profession can help build and maintain a multiracial democracy, and they will develop an evergreen website of resources.

For questions, please contact

Yadira Ramos-Herbert