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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 pursue successful careers in affordable housing law, legal aid, civil rights advocacy, nonprofit leadership, and government.

Click here to download information about the 2018 Polikoff-Gautreaux Fellowship.  The application deadline is October 13, 2017.























“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 range of issues that BPI’s work addresses and the complicated political dilemmas they present, working 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
  • Conduct research and determine early learning program priorities for a high-needs Chicago community
  • Conduct research and assist in drafting municipal ordinances and state legislation to increase affordable housing
  • Draft a motion to enable the construction of public housing in the context of creating a mixed-income community
  • Develop a policy proposal and advocacy strategy to restore community trust in the Chicago police
















Recipient of the MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions

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