Social justice relates to a wide variety of human rights within a society, including freedom from discrimination based on traits like sexuality, age, race and gender. It also refers to access to opportunities and privileges. For a society to be truly just, a lack of discrimination isn’t necessarily enough. Everyone must also have access to opportunities like a good education, housing, jobs, and so on. Here are ten organizations offering jobs in the social justice sector.
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In the last 40 years, incarceration has skyrocketed by more than 500%. This reality has a huge impact on women; one in four women have a family member in prison in the US. Women of color are especially affected. Essie Justice Group is a non-profit organization that serves women with imprisoned loved ones. They tackle issues like gender and race justice, and membership is comprised of groups like formerly and currently incarcerated women, transwomen, and non-binary people. Essie Justice Group looks for hard-working job candidates and strongly encourages formerly-incarcerated people; people with incarcerated loved ones; people of color; queer people; and other members of the LGBTQ+ community to apply.
Ipas is a global organization that works to improve access to safe abortions and contraception. With partners, the organization works in Asia, Africa, and Latin America to provide women with resources and information. Ipas also advocates for safe, legal abortion. Their US office is found in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Ipas employs over 400 professionals across their offices around the world. Benefits to working for Ipas include life insurance, travel accident insurance, medical insurance; short-term and long-term disability; excellent family care leave; long-term care insurance; and more.
With staff in six countries, Outright Action International has a global influence. The organization was founded in 1990, and changed its name in 2015. They work at regional, national, and international levels to “research, document, defend, and advance” LGBT+ rights. OutRight is the only LGBT+ organization with a permanent advocate place at the United Nations Headquarters. It has a special consultative status. On their website under the “Career Opportunities” tab, you can see their equal employment opportunity policy, job opportunities, and volunteers and internships.
Since 1968, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) has been America’s leading Latino legal civil rights organization. They are headquartered in Los Angeles with several regional offices. MALDEF has fought for the legal rights of Mexican Americans, provided scholarships for Mexican American law school students, and offered leadership programs for youth. On the Career Opportunities page on the MALDEF website, it says they offer “challenging and rewarding employment” to qualified people looking to work hard for justice. Positions include staff attorneys, administrative assistants, legislative staff attorneys, and so on.
The Black Youth Project, founded in 2004, is a national research project that focuses on the “attitudes, resources, and culture” of African-American youth. The research the BYP collects and examines is intended to amplify Black millenials, and look at the political and cultural choices and challenges this group faces. The platform works in tandem with the activist organization BYP 100 (which was founded in 2013 as a response to the murder of Trayvon Martin) to highlight efforts to improve and engage with communities. The Black Youth Project’s team is comprised of 18-35 year-old writers, activists, scholars, and others. Writing and social media coordinator positions are periodically available.
A multidisciplinary organization, the Transgender Law Center uses policy advocacy, education, strategic litigation, and program-creation for the transgender and gender non-conforming community. Their goal is to change policy, law, and attitudes, so everyone – regardless of their gender identity or expression – can live freely in safety and without discrimination. Specific programs include the Detention Project – which focuses on the rights and treatment of transgender/gender non-conforming people in prison, immigration detention, etc – and TRUTH, a national storytelling campaign for trans and gender nonconforming youth. Career opportunities at the Transgender Law Center can include positions in development, human resources, and legal.
Founded in 1971, the Southern Poverty Law Center has committed to fighting hate and bigotry. They seek justice for vulnerable communities in society, and throughout their history, the SPLC has won legal victories aimed at white supremacy, LGBT+ discrimination, abuse, and exploitation. The Intelligence Project tracks hate groups and extremists, while the Teaching Tolerance program provides anti-bias films, books, lesson plans, and more to schools free of charge. The organization also maintains a blog called Hatewatch, which monitors and exposes the American radical right. According to the website, the SPLC fosters a work culture of “creativity, teamwork, and equality.” The organization seeks to respect individual differences while also making them work for the center’s mission.
Originally founded in 1981, Race Forward joined with Center for Social Inclusion in 2017, keeping the Race Forward name. Since the 1980’s, the organization has set out to analyze complicated race issues in order to achieve racial equity. The Center for Social Inclusion, which was founded more recently in 2002, seeks to have the community, government, and other institutions work together to break down ingrained racial inequality. Together as the new Race Forward, the organization is about racial justice and coming up with strategies to achieve it through research, media, and advocacy and action. Race Forward is an equal opportunity employer and seeks job candidates who are committed to racial justice.
Formerly known as the Family Violence Prevention Fun, Futures Without Violence is a non-profit organization committed to ending sexual and domestic violence. It has offices in San Francisco, Boston, and Washington D.C. It has been active for over three decades and provides programs, campaigns, and policies geared towards ending violence against women and children around the world. Futures without Violence played a big role in the passage of the Violence Against Act of 1994, the first comprehensive federal response to domestic violence in the United States Employment opportunities can be found within all the organization’s programs, which include the National Judicial Institute, which helps judges make sure their courtrooms help survivors of family violence; the Children’s Initiative, which focuses on other organizations like childware agencies to help deal with childhood exposure to violence; and the Workplace Project, which collaborates with employers and unions on dealing with workplace domestic violence.
Founded in 1972, the Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law protects the civil rights of adults and children with mental illness or other developmental disabilities. Using litigation, public policy advocacy, public education, media outreach, and more, the Bazelon Center wants to create a world free of discrimination against those with mental disabilities. Work includes working on cases to protect and expand legal rights; promoting the reform of systems and programs; and providing technical assistance to lawyers working on cases involving mental disabilities and discrimination. On their website, you can find available employment opportunities, as well as fellowships and internships.
Founded in 1920, the ACLU’s goal is to “defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person” as laid out in the Constitution and US laws. The ACLU works through litigation and lobbying. It also steps in to give legal assistance when civil liberties are threatened. Their positions include opposing the death penalty, supporting reproductive rights, and supporting same-sex marriage. The organization has around 300 staff attorneys.
Community Change (formerly Center for Community Change) seeks to “build the power and capacity of low-income people, especially low-income people of color, to change their communities and public policies for the better.” It was founded in 1968 to honor Robert F. Kennedy and address civil rights concerns. Specific issues include affordable housing, racial justice, and immigration. Community Change is located in Washington, D.C. Within their workplace, the organization values a personal-professional balance, flexible workspaces, and self-reflection as a staff.
Organized by Community Change, FIRM supports comprehensive immigration reform and the civil rights of immigrants. A grassroots movement, it includes 30 immigration rights movements. FIRM helps these organizations unite their voices and work for better conditions and policies affecting immigrants. The FIRM Action branch focuses on political engagement. FIRM is not to be confused with FAIR (Federation for American Immigration Reform), an anti-immigration organization that the Southern Poverty Law Center categorizes as a hate group.
A nonprofit founded by transgender activist Mara Keisling, the NCTE focuses on policy advocacy and media activism. Their goal is to advance transgender equality in the US. Specific areas of focus include fair housing, criminal justice reform, employment equality, and so on. In addition to policy programs, the NCTE has an ID Documents Center and Transgender Legal Services Network. In 2019, the majority of the staff left after clashes with leadership, so the organization is in a rebuilding phase.
The oldest organization of its kind in the United States, the National Urban League advocates for social and economic justice for African-Americans. It provides direct services in fields like education, housing, healthcare, and justice. It has 90 affiliates working in 300 communities. The Washington Bureau branch works on policy, research, and advocacy on issues related to Congress.
Founded in 1973 by Marian Wright Edelman, the Children’s Defense Fund focuses on child advocacy and research. Inspired by the Civil Rights movement, the CDF works to improve policies related to child welfare and public education. It’s based in Washington, D.C. with offices in states like California, Texas, and Ohio. The organization has lobbied for legislation such as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. The CDF welcomes any job candidates who are committed to their mission.
This organization advocates for the promotion and protection of women’s rights around the world. The four main areas are sexual violence, legal discrimination, harmful practices, and trafficking. Using human rights law, the organization fights for women and girls who are survivors of gender-based violence and discrimination. There are offices in New York, Kenya, Lebanon, and the United Kingdom.
The oldest and largest nonprofit legal organization dedicated to defending the rights of Native Americans, NARF was founded in 1970. It uses existing treaties and laws to hold the government accountable. NARF also provides legal representation and assistance to the Native American community. A volunteer board of 13 directors from different tribes governs the fund.
This community development organization’s mission is to make it easier for low and moderate-income people to find housing in good areas. In addition to work “in the field,” Enterprise also develops bipartisan policies that support low-income families and prioritizes green housing. It helped design the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, a vital tool for affordable rental housing. Offices can be found across the country. The Baltimore Sun named Enterprise a Top Workplace.