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Polikoff-Gautreaux Fellowship In Depth


Dorothy Gautreaux, Altgeld Resident, Lead Plaintiff

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.

Applications for the 2022 Fellowship will be accepted August 1, 2020 – October 16, 2020. Download more information about the Fellowship.

“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 range issues BPI’s work addresses and the complex political dilemmas they present, working at BPI requires a variety of skills, creativity, and a willingness to go beyond traditional legal and policy remedies to bring about social change.  During 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, housing developers, the Chicago Housing Authority and City of Chicago staff
  • Conduct research on legal and policy strategies for police reform, including comparative research about other jurisdictions
  • Collect and analyze data and anecdotes from agencies, community-based stakeholders, and formerly incarcerated youth and prepare a report on community-based alternatives to incarceration
  • Work with early childhood teachers to identify common goals and practices that promote kindergarten readiness and present findings and recommendations to the state’s Kindergarten Transition Advisory Committee

Recipient of the MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions

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