SFPIF: Hard to Say, Easy to Support! 
SFPIF makes it possible for students to afford the jobs they really want. A summer job working in public interest or government can be a rewarding, even life-changing, experience for many students. But many of these jobs can also take a toll on students’ pocketbooks since most not-for-profit and government organizations simply don’t have the financial resources to offer their summer interns a salary. But Northwestern University’s Student Funded Public Interest Fellowships (SFPIF) presents one creative solution to this funding challenge; SFPIF members work tirelessly throughout the year to raise money for public interest fellowships.

Last year, relying on the tax-deductible contributions of students, faculty, alumni, law firms, and local businesses, SFPIF was able to raise more than $90,000 that was used to fund 39 Len Rublnowitz Public Interest Fellowships. Fellowship recipients used their grants at a variety of local and national government and non-profit agencies, including the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, a U.S. Attorney’s Office, a Federal Defender’s Office, the ACLU, the U.S. Department of Justice, the UN International Criminal Tribunal, the Midwest Center for Justice, the Office of the Cook County Public Guardian, and Equip for Equality. (For more information on the various organizations where Northwestern’s Len Rubinowitz fellows worked this summer,please click here.)

How does SFPIF raise its money? Annual fundraising events include:

  • A fall auction, which raised over $30,000 last year. More than 100 law firms, businesses, students, and faculty members generously donated auction items, including a vacation trip to the Caribbean, a weekend in Cape Cod, box seats at Bulls and Blackhawks games, bottles of wine, dinners, sight-seeing tours and cooking lessons.
  • The L-STAR Program, through which students doing call-back interviews with participating firms can stay with friends or family in the area they are interviewing and let the firm donate the money that they would have spent on hotel rooms to SFPIF.
  • The Barrister’s Ball, a winter formal attended by over 400 law students.
  • The Alumni Public Service Benefit Dinner, which honors three law school alumni for their contributions to public interest law. The dinner – now in its 8th year – raised approximately $20,000.
  • An annual pledge drive during which students working at law firms for the summer donate a day of their salary.
  • Six used book and supplement sales held throughout the course of the year.