Black Feminism Initiative Graduate Fellowships


The CSW Black Feminism Initiative (BFI) has established two fellowships to support intellectual work that centers Black feminist frameworks of analysis.  In the tradition of abolitionist feminist activism and labor, the BFI Graduate Fellowships seek to advance Black feminist work on any topic with a focus on scholarship that interrogates historical and ongoing regimes of violence, enclosure, and captivity and offers original insights for conceiving of freedom, redress, abolition, and refusal.

The Alisa Bierria Graduate Fellowship in Black Feminist Research honors and continues the work of Alisa Bierria, whose writing explores race, intentionality, intimate organizing, anti-Black racism, carceral culture, gendered violence, and anticarceral approaches to justice. At UC Berkeley, she founded the Feminist Anti-Carceral Policy and Research Initiative. With organizations such as Communities Against Rape and Abuse (CARA), The Free Marissa Now Mobilization Campaign, and Incite! Women of Color Against Violence, Bierria has meaningfully challenged sexual violence and the carceral state. Her activism has been instrumental in securing the freedom of criminalized survivors of gender violence.

The Mariame Kaba Graduate Fellowship in Black Feminist Research honors and continues the work of Mariame Kaba, whose writing examines policing, abolition, gendered state violence, youth activism, organizing and leadership, interpersonal violence, and anticarceral approaches to justice. She has been at the helm of numerous grassroots organizations that have educated the public, mobilized against racial terror, and challenged gender violence: Project Nia, the Chicago Freedom School, the Chicago Alliance to Free Marissa Alexander, Incite! Women of Color Against Violence, and We Charge Genocide, to name a few. She runs the social media account Prison Culture, which has reshaped public understandings of the carceral state and abolition.

Along with Ayanna Banks Harris, Sumayya Coleman, Colby Lenz, Hyejin Shim, and Stacy Suh, Bierria and Kaba co-founded Survived and Punished, a national project that develops policy and research strategies to challenge the criminalization of survivors of domestic and sexual violence. Survived and Punished organizes defense campaigns on behalf of criminalized survivors of gender violence, advocates for commutations, and produces training materials. Among the leading activists and thinkers working in abolitionist feminism, their respective lectures, scholarly and popular essays, books, educational curricula, institutional leadership, curatorial projects, and organizing have had an expansive and profound impact on scholars, public audiences, and community organizers alike.


  • Alisa Bierria Graduate Fellowship: $1000
  • Mariame Kaba Graduate Fellowship: $1000


Monday, November 16, 2020


  • Applicant must be a currently registered PhD or Master’s student at UCLA during the quarters when the application is due and when award payment is made
  • Fellowship can be used for research travel, conference presentations, or the acquisition of materials critical for an advanced research project such as a thesis or dissertation
  • Scholarly research that includes an artistic or organizing dimension is also encouraged
  • Awardee will be honored at the CSW Awards Celebration at UCLA in May/June 2021. Attendance is expected.

Special Note

  • Students who are qualified under the CA Dream Act of 2011 are eligible to apply. Find detailed information on the Dream Act at
  • Students receiving financial aid are advised to consult with the Financial Aid Office about the potential effect of this award on their financial aid package.

To Apply

The application requires the documents listed below.

  1. Curriculum Vitae
  2. List of three references that includes names, affiliations, and email addresses
  3. A Statement* (maximum 3-4 single-spaced pages) that includes:
    • a description of your academic background (coursework, degree focus, past creative, activist, or research projects)
    • a description of your research project that explains the work’s methods, arguments and/or guiding questions, and conveys how the project engages with and advances Black feminist thought/politics
    • a bibliography of 5-10 key texts that shape the project
    • a brief, one paragraph budget that itemizes anticipated project expenditures

*Please compose essays that are within the stated guidelines, as review committee members may not be able to read statements in excess of 4 single-spaced pages.

Only complete applications will be considered. CSW must receive all required documents no later than 11:59 PM (PST) on Monday, November 16, 2020.



For questions regarding the Black Feminism Initiative and BFI Graduate Fellowships, please contact the BFI director, Sarah Haley, at

Past Recipients

Awardees will be honored at an Awards Celebration at UCLA in May/June 2021. Attendance is highly encouraged.