Freedom Research Institute Fellowship -Summer 2019

The Young Women’s Freedom Center has recently launched the Freedom Research Institute as a collaborative space to decolonize traditional social science research on system-involvement. Our team is dedicated to participatory and community-driven work that centers the voice of formerly incarcerated and system-involved women, girls, and TGNC people. We do not “research”individuals, rather we create meaningful partnerships with the most affected people to co-construct knowledge that can be used as a tool for radical systems transformation. The research team is in the second phase of an exciting three-year research initiative. We are in the process of analyzing data from our first project where we interviewed 100 system-involved women, girls, and TGNC people.

We are seeking four enthusiastic fellows to join us this summer and help us dig into our data and collaborate with analysis. This is a great opportunity for newer researchers to gain experience with data management and analysis. There search fellowship is ideal for early graduate students or senior undergraduates with research experience. Candidates should have some experience with participating in a research project, either with coursework or through employment. Over the 10 weeks, fellows will work directly with quantitative and qualitative data, engage with interdisciplinary research methods, and present findings to the team at the end of the summer. We will hire 2 fellows to work with quantitative data and 2 fellows to work with qualitative data.  

Quantitative Fellowship Candidate Background:  

●     Strong Excel skills.

●     Course work in statistical analysis.

●     Some experience with statistical analysis systems, such as STATA, R, or SPSS.

Qualitative Fellowship Candidate Background

●     Experience with content analysis of qualitative data.

●     Proficient in qualitative data analysis software.

●     Empirical and theoretical background on issues related to our work: carceral state,criminal justice, gender, government policy, or other related fields.


●     Deeply committed to the mission and vision of the Young Women’s Freedom Center and to the leadership of young women and TGNC people.

●     Values collaborative and participatory work and is able to center the voices of those most impacted.

●     Eagerness to develop and pursue new ideas, comfort with ambiguity and uncertainty,ability to interface with a wide of variety of people.

●     Excellent interpersonal and communication skills

●     Ability to compassionately interact with cis and trans women and girls from diverse racial/ethnic, economic, and SOGIE identities and backgrounds.

●     Works well independently.

●     Ability to establish cooperative working relationships with co-workers and research participants, while working within a diverse team.


●     Interns will be recognized for their contributions to research projects. This may include the inclusion of their name in online reports or co-authorship in academic journals.

●     Interns will be continually updated on the progress of the research projects after the fellowship and will be included in presentations and future events.

●     Interns will learn about radical systems transformation from a 26-year-old grassroots organizing non-profit.

●     Interns will engage in a summer curriculum and activities hosted by the YWFC that will provide first-hand experience of how to transform institutional systems.

Process for applying to the internship

Please email the items listed in Round1 to and use the subject line Summer Research Internship. Applicants that advance to the second round will be contacted to schedule a 30-minute video interview.

Round 1: Submit the following materials

●     Resume. Please list any relevant coursework.

●     Unofficial transcript.

●     Optional: 2 reference letters.

●     Write a letter of purpose that addresses the following questions:
- Why are you interested in doing research at the Young Women’s Freedom Center?

- How might you contribute to the process of decolonizing research, or how might you engage in this type of research?

- Please describe your specific fellowship interest and why you are best suited for that fellowship.You may include any relevant coursework, job experiences, or research experiences.

Round 2: Candidates that advanced to the second round will be emailed to schedule a 20-30-minute video interview.

Round 3: Candidates that advance to the third round will work with data from our current research project and begin analysis. This should take approximately an hour and a half and will take place in our San Francisco office. Accommodations for extraordinary remote candidates.

Please submit 2 references that can be contacted by our team. Ideally, one reference comes from an academic advisor or professor and the other letter comes from a supervisor from a previous or current job.

This research fellowship is paid opportunity of $4,000 for 10 weeks over the summer with a 40-hour work week.

We strongly encourage candidates who hold marginalized identities to apply. The Young Women’s Freedom Center does not discriminate based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation), national origin, age (40 or older), disability, or genetic information.

Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. Due to the volume of applications we receive, we’re not able to respond personally to every candidate. We do review every submission carefully and we will contact those who we’d like to interview

Alezandra Zaragoza Melendrez


I am a Mexican American critical educator, community-based scholar and professor who was born and raised in Chula Vista, with ancestral roots in Baja California and New Mexico. I’ve spent the last 15 years working and learning alongside youth of color in Harlem, the Bronx, and the Bay Area. As Research Director, I am collaborating with an intergenerational team to carry out participatory and decolonizing research that centers the voice of formerly incarcerated and system involved cis and trans women. I am here to work alongside my community using research as a tool for radical social and personal liberation.

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