The Solís Policy Institute - State : Apply
What We Do

The Dr. Beatriz María Solís Policy Institute (SPI) is a policy advocacy and leadership training fellowship for genderqueer and non-binary people, cisgender and transgender women, and transgender men who want to build their skills to influence public policymaking at the state level.*

*The term ‘cisgender’ describes someone who identifies with the gender they were assigned at birth. The term ‘transgender’ describes someone whose gender identity is different from the one they were assigned at birth.

Solís Policy Institute- State Key Dates

Application Opens

Wednesday, May 29, 2024 9:00 AM PST

Application Deadline

Thursday, June 27, 2024 5:00 PM PST

Application Information Sessions

  • Informational Webinar #1: 12 – 1 PM, June 5th, 2024 RSVP
  • Informational Webinar #2: 12 – 1 PM, June 20th, 2024 RSVP

Program Information & Dates

Mandatory Time Commitment: 

  • 8-10 hours PER WEEK, excluding time allotted for retreats and seminars, September 2024 through September 2025

Mandatory Retreat Dates

  • Retreat 1 (in-person): Monday, September 30 – Friday, October 4, 2024
  • Retreat 2 (virtual): Tuesday, December 3 – Thursday, December 5, 2024
  • Lobby Day (in-person): Thursday, January 9, 2025
  • Retreat 3 (virtual): Wednesday, March 5 – Friday, March 7, 2025
  • Retreat 4 (in-person): Monday, May 12 – Thursday, May 15, 2025

Mandatory Seminar Dates
all seminars are virtual

  • Seminar 1: 10-1 PM, Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2024
  • Seminar 2: 10-12 PM, Wednesday, Oct 23, 2024
  • Seminar 3: 10-12 PM, Wednesday, November 20, 2024
  • Seminar 4: 10-12 PM, Monday, February 3, 2025
  • Seminar 5: 1-3 PM, Wednesday, February 19, 2025
  • Seminar 6: 1-3 PM, Wednesday, April 9, 2025
  • Seminar 7: 1-2:30 PM, Wednesday, April 23, 2025
  • Seminar 8: 1-2:30 PM, Wednesday, June 25, 2025
  • Seminar 9: 10-1 PM, Thursday, August 21, 2025


  • We accept applications from genderqueer and non-binary people, cisgender and transgender women, and transgender men.
  • Individuals who agree to all participation requirements and whose employers agree to all participation requirements.


  • Depth of Issue Expertise
  • Collaborative Spirit
  • Commitment to Policy Advocacy Work
  • Organizational Support
  • Commitment to Building Organizational Capacity
  • Time Availability
  • Understanding of and interest in applying anti-racist, intersectional and transgender justice lenses to policy advocacy

Applications are Open!


SPI-State will accept applications from representatives of organizations that work to address the harmful and oppressive impacts that the justice system has on the lives of Californians, especially those impacted by gender injustice. We prioritize fellows from organizations that work to promote racial, economic, and gender justice. In this context, criminal justice policy projects may include, and are not limited to:

  • Working to reduce the prison population and the numbers of incarcerated transgender people as well as cisgender women in the short- and long-term through prevention, ending jail expansion, and promoting alternatives to incarceration
  • Addressing the causes and reducing the disproportionate incarceration of Black people and people of color
  • Protecting the human and civil rights of incarcerated people
  • Expanding and strengthening rehabilitation and reentry programs for currently and formerly incarcerated people
  • Protecting and supporting the children and loved ones of incarcerated people
  • Expanding access to public programs and benefits for formerly incarcerated people

SPI-State will accept applications from representatives of organizations that work or support programs that improve the economic security of Californians, especially from grassroots leaders and community organizations that focus on individuals impacted by systemic gender-based discrimination. This includes organizing low-wage and informal workers, advocating for better implementation of safety net programs, local workforce development, and the promotion of small business ownership.
In this context, economic security policy projects may include, and are not limited to: 

  • Facilitating access to occupational jobs and economic mobility for low-skilled, low-income cisgender and transgender women, non-binary and genderqueer people, and transgender men
  • Boosting funding for and access to quality childcare
  • Improving Medi-Cal and CalFresh enrollment and alignment
  • Strengthening workforce development programs focused on job placement, retention, and advancement
  • Improving access to education, vocational, and training services including basic skills training, computer literacy, and life skills training in languages other than English

SPI-State will accept applications from representatives of organizations that work to support programs that expand and protect the rights of all people to make informed decisions about and exercise control over their sexual and reproductive lives. Reproductive health, rights, and justice policy projects may include, and are not limited to:

  • Promoting policies that are shaped by and responsive to people’s needs and address the right to bear and parent children
  • Access to safe and legal abortion, contraception and comprehensive sexuality education
  • The right to bodily autonomy, especially for incarcerated people, gender expansive and BIPOC communities
  • The right to express one’s sexuality, sexual orientation/identity, and gender identity/expression; or
  • Intersectional ties with other social justice efforts, including the reproductive health impacts of environmental pollution, the state violence impact on parenting people, and the economic security of youth and families.

Sheltering Survivors: Housing & Gender-Based Violence 


SPI-State will accept applications from representatives of organizations working to improve the safety and economic security of survivors of gender-based violence who are experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity.  The Foundation will also accept applications from representatives of organizations working in housing rights and security interested in the focus on survivors of gender-based violence.  Policy projects may include, and are not limited to:

  • Expanding affordable housing initiatives and rental assistance programs for survivors of violence and their families; 
  • Strengthening laws preventing landlords from discriminating against survivors based on their status as survivors of violence; 
  • Improving re-entry support for criminalized survivors; 
  • Expanding culturally competent and trauma-informed practices in housing programs;
  • Offering support services specifically tailored to the needs of transgender survivors of violence.


The voices of people impacted by gender-based oppression, violence, and discrimination are often missing or silenced from policymaking processes. The Solís Policy Institute’s goal is to ensure that visionary community leaders, their organizations and their communities can actively shape policies to transform the fundamental conditions that affect their lives and communities. Moreover, the SPI strives to increase the number and capacity of genderqueer and nonbinary people, cisgender and transgender women, and transgender men who are actively engaged in public policy— particularly those from Black, Indigenous, people of color communities, immigrant communities, trans and queer communities, low- income communities, and rural communities.

Our social justice framework focuses on the structural causes of inequities embedded in public institutions such as government. The Solís Policy Institute was developed in response to these structural inequities, and while we will make room to discuss oppressive systems and encourage each cohort to critique institutionalized oppression, the program’s primary objective is to train participants to create progressive policy changes within the current legislative system. We recognize the need to dismantle and transform our political institutions and processes and there are many different means that lead towards liberation. The Solís Policy Institute views policy advocacy as one powerful strategy to solving problems and improving the lives of our communities. It is our hope that after learning the process for what it takes to get a policy win, participants will be better able to continue the work of dismantling systems of oppression within public policy.

Throughout the year-long fellowship, all of the programming dates listed are mandatory (four retreats, an in-person lobby day, and nine mandatory seminars.)

In addition, fellows must allot 8-10 hours per week (30-40 monthly) in order to:

  • Complete homework assignments in advance of, and between retreats;
  • Conduct written research, do community listening sessions, and interview experts in their respective fields;
  • Read materials from the fellowship; and,
  • Meet and hold weekly conference calls with their team and continue working on their bill.

Applicants should note that 8-10 hours per week is an average and that the time commitment can fluctuate in advance of major legislative deadlines.

Please note that harmful beliefs, practices, and behaviors persist within many sectors of the public policy arena. We do our best to prepare our fellows to respond to these dynamics, to inform our speakers and trainers about our social justice principles and the diversity of our SPI cohorts, and to create as brave an environment as possible for fellows experiencing multiple forms of oppression. Due to the nature of the public policy arena, however, we cannot guarantee that every space you will enter as a fellow—both inside and outside the Capitol, and including retreats—will be safe or that every person with whom you interact, including speakers and trainers, will be trained in anti-oppression and anti-racist principles. If having safety is a requirement for you at this time of your life, the SPI might not be an appropriate program for you.

Applicants will need to create an account for to apply or login to an existing account to submit the application. You may stop and save your application at any time. In addition to the general application, applicants should be prepared to submit a 150-200 word statement from their employer/reference, upload documents such as a 1-page resume, and download & upload other needed forms, which are available to download from the application website. You will be asked questions regarding your experience in the issue area to which you are applying, your relationship to communities, your public policy experience, and more.

First, please keep in mind that our final decisions are based both on individual merit and the overall “fit” of the five people who we have selected for a team. We often receive strong applications from leaders who we would love to admit to the program, but who are not a good fit in the year they applied due to the nature of their interests relative to the rest of the applicant pool, their having recently started a new job, their being in the process of looking for a new job, or other reasons.

Applicants who articulate clear personal and professional reasons for wanting to learn policy advocacy, make a strong case for organizational support, exhibit deep issue area expertise, and are rooted in the community they hope to serve are always strong candidates for the program. If you have any interest or experience working in other issue areas, please mention that in your application as well—we often consider applicants for teams in issue areas other than the one under which they applied. Applicants with varying degrees of past policy experience—from none at all to a lot—will be considered for the program. Good luck!

This year, interviews will take place from July 22 – August 2, with the potential for some interviews to take place during the weekend, as well. If you are requested for an interview, the sign-up sheet will be sent via SurveyMonkey Apply and you will be expected to sign up between July 15 and July 18. The Solís Policy Institute interviews are conversational and are conducted by the mentors for each respective Issue Area.

The Solís Policy Institute interviews are conversational. We ask questions that help us better understand your interests within the issue area under which you applied, your experience with policy advocacy, your reasons for wanting to participate in the fellowship, your organization’s relationship to policy advocacy, and the degree to which your organization supports your participation in the program. A good way to prepare is to review your individual narrative as well as the selection criteria and participant requirements.

The Solís Policy Institute shifted to an entirely virtual format in March 2020 and as business in government has continued to shift again, so has the fellowship.  SPI State now contains mandatory virtual and in-person programming. Our in-person programming is subject to change upon government mandates and overall concerns from our cohort, but otherwise, fellows will be expected to attend in-person retreats. The Foundation does not currently have the capacity to host virtual participation at our in-person events.  Additionally, applicants should know that the norms in the state legislature for pitching bill ideas, lobbying for legislation, etc are almost all back in person.

The Foundation still strives to provide a healthy environment, so our in-person components include mandatory rapid testing and the provision of personal protective gear.  Recognizing that COVID-19 has not gone away, additional provisions are also subject to addition or modification.

The fellowship is offered free of charge. The Women’s Foundation California is committed to eliminating all financial barriers to access and we raise approximately $13,000 for each fellow’s participation in the program. In a typical Solis Policy Institute year, we provide stipends and reimbursements for in person retreats if a fellow’s organization does not have available funding for travel and meals (which is the case for the majority of our fellows). 

I’m currently self-employed or unemployed.

The short answer is that you are eligible to apply for the Solis Policy Institute as long as

  1. You are rooted in a community that will benefit (i.e., grow in its ability to do policy work) from your participation in the program and to which you are accountable
  2. You are connected to a non-profit or grassroots organization that endorses your participation, and
  3. Your employment status will remain the same throughout the Solis Policy Institute year.

The long answer is that our model is to invest in the capacity of organizations and communities, not individuals, for engaging in policy advocacy. We do this because

  1. Strong organizations and coalitions should be the driving forces behind public policy advocacy;
  2. We believe that more non-profit and community-based organizations should employ policy advocacy as one of their strategies for social change; and
  3. It would be impossible and impractical to attempt to train every single potential individual policy advocate in California, as our impact increases exponentially if our fellows are taking their training back to their organizations and communities.

Moreover, a change in employment status could impact your ability to stay in the Solis Policy Institute (i.e., your new organization won’t allow you to stay in the program, you move out of state, etc.). If you do not plan to remain self-employed or you are actively looking for work during the Solis Policy Institute fellowship year, this might not be the right time to participate in the Solis Policy Institute. Teams suffer when they lose a member halfway through the program, so it’s important for us to know with a fair degree of certainty that your employer is supportive of your participation and that you plan on being with that employer throughout the Solis Policy Institute year.

We know that COVID-19 has resulted in unpredictable employment for the majority of people in addition to a limited capacity for most individuals and their organizations. Ultimately, you know your own circumstances best, and you are the person who is best equipped to decide whether this is the right time for you to apply. If you choose to apply, please make sure to read the application instructions for a clearer understanding of the time commitment and expectations.

I’m a college student.

If you will graduate before or during the Solis Policy Institute fellowship year and are planning to search for and start a new job, please see the answer to question #3 above. Unless you are certain that your job will be supportive of your participation in the Solis Policy Institute, this may not be the right time for you to apply.

If you will not be graduating before or during the Solis Policy Institute fellowship year, we encourage you to review the retreat and webinar dates and determine whether you will be able to miss class on those days. You may want to speak with an advisor or the chair of your department about whether they can support your full participation in the program, including missing classes and whether retreats fall too close to finals week, etc. If counting your participation in the program as an internship would help secure your time away from classes, please explore that option with your department. We are happy to be supportive of that approach in any way we can.

Reproductive justice is a core value of Women’s Foundation California (WFC). This includes fighting for reproductive care in all forms, including abortion, paid parental leave, and protection from pregnancy discrimination.

If a fellow plans to give birth or welcome a new child to their family during SPI, we hope they will take at least 6 weeks off from the fellowship. We value the importance of bonding time for parents and other caregivers. We hope applicants planning to welcome a child will carefully consider if this is the best time in their career to apply for the Solís Policy Institute. Any potential parental leave will mean the fellow will miss a significant portion of content for learning as well as work to advance a piece of legislation. Experiential learning based on real-life advocacy is a central part of the fellowship.

WFC has robust policies to support parenting fellows in this work. This includes, but is not necessarily limited to:

  • Working with the team and their mentor to discuss clear transitions back to the fellowship after parental leave
  • Stipends for child and attendant care during programming (full days for retreats & partial days for seminars)
  • In select cases, the fellow may choose to bring a young child and the childcare provider to the in-person retreats
  • Working with the fellow to take lactation breaks (pumping or nursing.)

The Foundation respects the rights of all people to choose if and how they parent. WFC’s staff will work with fellowship participants to support their participation in the fellowship.

If you are aware of other applicants in your issue area with whom you would like to be placed on a team if you are both accepted into the program, you will be given the opportunity in the application to list those individuals.

As a general rule, we look for applicants who hold deep issue area expertise and are also willing to work on an issue that might not be a priority for them or their organization/community, or an issue that might not be their primary interest. The reason for this is that our objective is not to get a policy win—it is to teach you the legislative process so that once you graduate, you will know what it takes to get a policy win and you can focus on your specific issue. For this reason, while we encourage teams to pick policy projects that are meaningful to them, we also encourage them to pick policy projects that are moveable for first-time advocates. 

That said, we recognize that our issue areas are broad and that there are countless different subtopics and problems impacting our communities within those issue areas (for example, education as it relates to “Economic Security,” or immigration issues as they relate to “Criminal Justice Reform”). If that’s the case for you, we strongly encourage you to urge as many other people within your field to apply as possible—that way, we are more likely to be able to put together a team of five people interested in working on that particular  subtopic.

This work is powered by you.

The feminist future we are building together in California is going to be built by all of us sharing our time, our money, and our skills.  Please consider contributing today.

Together We Are Unstoppable.

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