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Polikoff-Gautreaux Fellowship In Depth




Alexander Polikoff in the Chicago Sun-Times, 1973

The Fellowship was created in 1999 to honor Alexander Polikoff, who served as BPI’s Executive Director for 29 years, and Dorothy Gautreaux, the public housing activist who gave her name to Polikoff’s landmark lawsuit.

Each fall, BPI hires a recent law or policy school graduate to become a Polikoff-Gautreaux Fellow for a two-year term, beginning the following fall.  Fellows do not create stand-alone projects, but instead are fully integrated into BPI’s staff as attorneys and policy analysts.

After completing their service at BPI, Polikoff Gautreaux fellows have gone on to successful careers including nonprofit leadership, affordable housing law, legal aid, civil rights advocacy and government.

Click here to download information about the 2017 Polikoff-Gautreaux Fellowship.  The application deadline is October 14, 2016.























“One of the big benefits BPI had on my career was the exposure it gave me to the diversity
of stakeholders, all the groups working in the city of Chicago to try to change things. By the time my fellowship ended, I had a really good understanding of how these organizations can work together and ways in which I can continue to work with them.” -Katie Hill, 2007 Polikoff-Gautreaux Fellow

A Day in the Life of
a BPI Fellow

As a result of the diverse issues that BPI’s work addresses and the complicated political challenges they often represent, work at BPI requires a variety of skills, creativity, and a willingness to go beyond traditional legal remedies to bring about social change. In a typical day, a BPI attorney or policy analyst might do any of the following:

  • Negotiate the components of a site plan for a new mixed-income community in a working group of public housing residents, community members, the developer, Chicago Housing Authority, and City of Chicago staff
  • Interview teachers and administrators about policies and practices that challenge the development and long-term sustainability of innovative public schools
  • Draft a motion to allow for the construction of public housing within the context of a new mixed income community
  • Meet with municipal officials and state legislators to advocate for the creation and preservation of affordable housing for low- and moderate-income households
  • Strategize with local community organizations to build support for action
















Recipient of the MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions

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