United States of America
Founded in 1989, the Human Rights Advocates Program (HRAP) is a unique and successful model of human rights capacity building. HRAP capitalizes on its affiliation with Columbia University and its location in New York City to provide grassroots leaders the tools, knowledge, access, and networks to strengthen their organizations and promote human rights.
HRAP's comprehensive program of advocacy, networking, skills-building, and academic coursework provides advocates the opportunity to hone practical skills, develop a deeper understanding of human rights, and foster mutually beneficial relationships with organizations and individuals in their fields.
Founded in 1989, the Human Rights Advocates Program (HRAP) is a unique and successful model of human rights capacity building. HRAP capitalizes on its affiliation with Columbia University and its location in New York City to provide grassroots leaders the tools, knowledge, access, and networks to promote the realization of human rights and strengthen their respective organizations.
HRAP’s comprehensive program of advocacy, networking, skills-building, and academic coursework provides advocates the opportunity to hone practical skills, develop a deeper understanding of human rights, and foster mutually beneficial relationships with organizations and individuals in their respective fields.
More than 300 advocates from over 80 countries have participated in HRAP since 1989.
After completing the intensive four-month program, Advocates are able to more effectively lobby for their causes and address the human rights concerns of their community. The comparative advantages of the Human Rights Advocates Program are its:
- Comprehensive program of academic coursework, faculty mentoring, skills-building workshops, and networking.
- Emphasis on individual and organizational capacity building
- Affiliation with Columbia University and location in New York
- Weeklong networking trip to Washington, D.C.
- Alumni body of 308 human rights advocates in more than 86 countries
Advocates audit at least two graduate level courses at Columbia University. Advocates attend classes at the School of International and Public Affairs, the Law School, the Mailman School of Public Health, the Graduate School of Arts; Sciences, the School of Social Work, Teachers College and Barnard.
Advocates attend a number of skills-building workshops led by staff from organizations including Human Rights Watch and WITNESS. The workshops strengthen their effectiveness as individual advocates and allow them to build stronger organizations in their respective home countries. Topics include fundraising, campaign strategy, advocacy tools, media relations, stress management, and research and documentation.
Throughout the four-month program, Advocates are able to meet with a range of human rights organizations, international institutions, foundations, donors, and policymakers that are based in New York City. Each year, Advocates also participate in a networking and advocacy trip to Washington, D.C.
During group and individual meetings, Advocates share their unique grassroots knowledge and learn more about the strategies and best practices of other human rights organizations. These meetings also often lead to joint projects and funding opportunities.
Advocates are frequently invited to participate and attend panel discussions and lectures, both at Columbia University and throughout the United States. During such events, Advocates are able to raise public awareness and promote the work of their organizations.
The four-month program gives Advocates time and space to reflect on their work and share their experiences and insights with one another. HRAP also facilitates relationship-building among alumni of the program. For example, since 2010, the Director of Capacity Building has been recruiting HRAP alumni to lead workshops for program participants.
Each Advocate is assigned a Columbia University professor as mentor. Advocates often develop strong relationships with professors, students, and other members of the Columbia University community.
Student Life in New York City
HRAP integrates Advocates into various aspects of student life. Advocates reside at International House with international and US students and participate in a range of social, learning and cultural activities organized by International House and Columbia University.
Opportunity is About:
Candidates should be from:
Description of Ideal Candidate:
The Program is designed for human rights activists working with NGOs on issues including sexual and gender-based violence, minority rights, LGBTQI+ rights, labor rights, indigenous peoples' rights, migration, health, social exclusion, environmental justice, disability rights, and corporate social accountability.
Participants are selected on the basis of their previous work experience in human rights, commitment to the human rights field, and demonstrated ability to pursue graduate-level studies. Full-time students or government officials will not be considered. Applicants holding full or part-time jobs pursuing their advocacy efforts are preferred.
Advocates must work at the grassroots level. Applicants from high-income countries will not be considered except for those representing marginalized communities. See the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for more information about this requirement. Fluency in English is required. Preference is given to those who have not previously had opportunities to travel and study internationally.
Advocates must provide proof of institutional endorsement in English from their organizations for their participation in the Program and must commit to returning to that organization upon completion of the Program. Only one application per organization should be submitted. More than one application means all applications from that organization will be disqualified. It is up to the applicant to make sure no one else from the organization has applied.
Deadline: April 15, 2022
Cost/funding for participants:
We welcome applications from qualified human rights advocates from all regions of the world.
After ISHR conducts its stringent selection process, it makes every effort to secure funding for shortlisted Advocates to attend the program. In certain cases where ISHR cannot secure funding, shortlisted Advocates may be asked to secure the funds needed for them to be admitted to the program. The generosity of individual donors will make it possible for us to admit one qualified Advocate from Latin America who evokes the spirit and commitment of 1990 Advocate Felipe Michelini of Uruguay to the next HRAP. The generosity of the Arcus Foundation will make it possible for us to admit one qualified LGBT Advocate from Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean or Eastern and Southern Africa to the program.
The generosity of other funders will also enable us to admit qualified Advocates working on LGBT and/or disability and/or SRHR rights in Latin America and/or Africa in the program. Additional donors will be identified to support outstanding applicants working on other human rights issues at the grassroots level around the globe.