Projects and Events

A group of students and speakers in front of the 'deis IMPACT! banner

2018 'deis IMPACT! supporters and speakers

Since its establishment in 2006, the Legacy Fund has sponsored a series of initiatives designed to help students, enrich the university community, and address social justice concerns on and off campus. Projects and events supported by the Legacy Fund include:

2023 — SEED & commUNITY Diversity & Social Justice Admissions Recruitment Programs

In 2023, the Louis D. Brandeis Legacy Fund for Social Justice continued its support of two Admissions programs integral to the Univeristy's efforts in recruiting students from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds. Students Exploring and Embracing Diversity (SEED) invited 42 prospective students to campus; commUNITY invited 58 admitted students with a parent/guardian. The Legacy Fund provided travel, transportation, lodging, and food for these students to engage in workshops, panels, speeches, and additional programs with faculty, current students and administrators. These programs will help ensure Brandeis has a diverse student body, capable of recruiting students from all backgrounds who will contribute to a culture of social justice.

Read the 2023 report on these programs. 

2022 — 'Deis Impact 2022

The 'Deis Impact 2022 festival for social justice took place March 30 – April 1, 2022. This year’s theme of “Cultivating Sites of Belonging” took the form of dialogue-based workshops facilitated by Brandeis faculty, staff, student leaders, as well as community partners including Keshet, MassNow, and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD).

Deis Impact 2022 highlights:
1. “Cultivating Sites of Belonging: Telling Stories through Movement”
2. “A Fish Bowl Conversation with Transgender NCAA Athletes”
3. “LGBTQ+ Jewish History”
4. “The Roots of Belonging: Book Talk by Dr. Janice Johnson Dias '94”
5. “Out of the Closet and into the State House: Gender Justice Public Policy in

Earned media coverage:

2021-2023 Roses in Concrete, Department of Community Service

As a direct response to the Brandeis Black Action Plan, the Department of Community Service launched a pilot program of Roses in Concrete to provide leadership and mentorship opportunities through workshops and intergenerational mentoring for students at Brandeis and Waltham High School. Read the final report online.

The Legacy Fund was proud to support Roses in Concrete's pilot phase and continues to support the program through 2023. 

Summer, 2020 — Generation to Generation

In response to the increase in loneliness and loss of community as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and quarantine, the Legacy Fund provided a grant to implement a one-time, four-week, outreach program for current students to contact segments of the alumni population to ease the stressors of extended periods of isolation. Under this program, called Generation to Generation, three undergraduate students placed phone calls to over 1,000 alumni during the summer of 2020 having extended conversations, building relationships, and connections. This program helped build bridges between current students and the older alumni population, engaging in important generational-based social justice work.

Read the 2020 Generation to Generation report here.

Undergraduate and Graduate Student Summer Research Fellowships
During the summer of 2020, the Legacy Fund supported 10 student research fellowships both at the undergraduate and graduate level. These students work directly with faculty on research projects in a variety of different academic disciplines. Some of the projects included were: 
The Cultural is Political: Institutional Memory and Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Communities at Brandeis UniversityAcademic Department: History/Asian American and Pacific Islander Studies
United States Government Prosecution of American Foreign Fighters for Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).  Academic Department: Politics
Cuban Missile Crisis: A Case Study of Negotiation and Leadership.  Academic Department: The Heller School for Social Policy and Management
Fairies and Funnies: Gay Men in Standup ComedyAcademic Department: South Asian Literature and Women's Studies
Learn more about Student Research at Brandeis here. Read a BrandeisNOW article about undergraduate summer research projects, including those funded by the Legacy Fund. 

Distribution to the Brandeis University Class of 2020
Learning on the Left
: Political Profiles of Brandeis University
Stephen J. Whitfield

The Legacy Fund distributed copies of Professor Stephen J. Whitfield's compelling book on the faculty and alumni from Brandeis University who have played a formidable role in American politics as a graduation gift to the Class of 2020, amidst the onset of the COVID-19 global pandemic.

Summer, 2020  — Brandeis Precollege Programs

The Legacy Fund supported a summer course for high school students participating in Brandeis Precollege Programs called “Race, Inequality and Social Justice” to hire instructors, lecturers, and teaching assistants to teach 45 students, 60% of whom were able to attend on scholarship. Sessions ranged from “Racial Justice & Social Change” to “Critical Race Theory & Intersectionality” and “The Color of Justice.” Students ended the program with team capstone project son subjects including “Black Women in the BLM Movement”, “Policy Brutality” and “The Impact of the War on Drugs on Communities of Color.” In addition to providing a learning environment on these topics, the program also introduced high school students to academic and college life. 

Brandeis Admissions - Diversity Recruitment Programs 
Since 2019, the Legacy Fund has funded two programs within Undergraduate Admissions that support Brandeis' mission to recruit students of diverse backgrounds.
  • Students Exploring and Embracing Diversity (SEED), is a 3-day, 2-night event that brings high school seniors from diverse backgrounds to campus to experience life at Brandeis. SEED exposes these students to on-campus resources that focus on multiculturalism and social justice. The prospective students stay overnight in a residence hall, meet with current students and faculty, and receive support from admissions counselors in their application process. Legacy Fund support helped pay the transportation costs for these students to visit, giving preference to those who are underrepresented in higher education, including first-generation, low-income, and minority students.
  • commUNITY is an invitation-only, on-campus weekend that gives remarkable students of diverse backgrounds the opportunity to explore a community committed to intellectual creativity and academic rigor. Participating students immerse themselves in life at Brandeis and envision the impact they can make on campus and in the world by meeting with faculty, staff, and current students. Students explore what diversity means at Brandeis and start building relationships with their future classmates. 

The ENACT Labor Network
A program of ENACT: The Educational Network for Active Civic Transformation

In 2019-2020, the Legacy Fund spported a pilot initiative of ENACT, a program out of the International Center for Ethics, Justice, and Public Life at Barndeis University, called the ENACT Labor Network (ELN). The ELN is a deep dive into labor issues, guided by four ENACT Faculty Fellows who work with a small team of students on state labor issues, meeting with advocates experts, and state legislators. Read the 2019-2020 report here.

The Legacy Fund provides support to the Heller School for Social Policy and Management, “the only graduate school where the idealism of a social justice mission meets the rigor and prestige of a top-ranked policy school.” The Heller School is a leading community of scholars committed to progressive social policy and development, at a school specifically founded to advance careers committed to social change.

Brandeis Bridges is a student-run organization that aims to create a space for Black and Jewish students to engage in dialogue, community building, and social justice. Over the years, the Legacy Fund supports students participating in the Bridges fellowship. Students in the fellowship commit four hours per week to study Black and Jewish relations in the U.S., as well as build relationships with each other and brainstorm how to make Brandeis a more welcoming and fair place for people of all backgrounds. As part of the Bridges fellowship, the students attend a week-long trip during February break to visit Black and Jewish sites and communities.

The Legacy Fund has supported the student club the Brandeis Labor Coalition. The purpose of the club is to ensure fair labor practices at Brandeis and to promote fair labor practices around the world. The club’s goal is to raise awareness about labor issues and to actively work to help attain fair labor practices. With that goal in mind, the club seeks to empower students by informing them of and facilitating change around problematic labor issues that affect them both directly and indirectly. Working cooperatively with Brandeis staff and their union representatives, the Brandeis administration, faculty, and student body, we seek to create a more inclusive university community, responsible to all of its members and the larger world in the tradition of this university’s foundational pillar of social justice.

Feb. 8, 2019 — The Legacy Fund provided a grant in 2019 to support the 50th Anniversary Commemoration of the African and African American Studies Department. The program hosted literary critic Hortense Spillers, PhD’74, who received the Alumni Achievement Award, and a keynote address and conversation with activist and icon Angela Davis ’65, facilitated by Julieanna Richardson ’76, H’16. The program celebrated 50 years since the student takeover of Ford Hall, leading to the creation of one of the nation's first academic departments in African and African American Studies.

March 12, 2014 — Publication of "Guided by the Light of Reason", an award-winning, scrapbook-style biography of Louis D. Brandeis, which is presented to each member of the incoming class.

Feb. 5, 2014 — Kweku Mandela-Amuah and Ndaba Mandela, grandsons of the late Nelson Mandela, the anti-apartheid activist and first black president of South Africa, delivered the keynote address for the third annual 'deis IMPACT! festival of social justice. Organized by the International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life and the Student Union with support from the Louis D. Brandeis Legacy Fund for Social Justice, the 10-day festival featured more than 50 events. Talks, workshops, performances and exhibitions were organized by students, faculty, clubs and academic departments to raise awareness of social justice on campus, in Waltham and around the world. "'deis IMPACT! is an audacious, bold undertaking whose goals are not beer and football," Mandela-Amuah said. "[Social justice] is a goal you are destined to fail [to achieve]. No society has ever achieved it. You remind us that each and every one of us can try."

Read more about the Keynote Address

April 22, 2013 — Activist, scholar and journalist Peter Dreier, the Dr. E.P. Clapp Distinguished Professor of Politics at Occidental College, visited campus to deliver a lecture, “What Makes Social Justice Movements Succeed? Lessons from the Past, Present and Future.” Dreier has worked as a reporter, community organizer and senior policy advisor to Boston Mayor Ray Flynn. He writes regularly for The Nation, American Prospect, Dissent, the Los Angeles Times and Huffington Post about American politics, activism, sports, and popular culture.

Michael HarringtonNov. 4, 2012 — More than 150 Brandeis faculty, students and community activists gathered to assess the state of poverty in the United States today – 50 years after the publication of Michael Harrington’s “The Other America: Poverty in the United States.” Speakers included Robert Kuttner, author, founder and editor of the American Prospect and a Boston Globe columnist, and Bob Herbert, former New York Times op-ed columnist, Demos distinguished fellow and senior adviser to the Institute on Assets and Social Policy at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis. Heller School faculty and community organization officials led discussions, which explored how economic and policy trends affect poverty and the “new poor” today, and what can be done to address the crisis.

Read more about the conference

Oct. 17, 2012 — The Legacy Fund sponsored a screening of the documentary “Soul of Justice: Thelton Henderson’s American Journey,” which chronicles the life of an overlooked hero of the civil rights movement. A Q&A with producer/director Abby Ginzberg followed the screening.

March 22-23, 2012 — About 30 Brandeis students, faculty and staff made a “field trip” to “The Other America Then and Now,” a conference marking the 50th anniversary of the breakthrough analysis on poverty in the United States by Michael Harrington. Speakers at the conference included Harrington biographer Maurice Isserman; Michael Kazin, a Georgetown professor and co-editor of “Dissent;” and William Julius Wilson, a Harvard professor and author of “When Work Disappears: The World of the New Urban Poor.”

Diane NashOctober 24, 2011 — Brandeis marked the 50th anniversary of one of the most pivotal events in the American civil rights movement when three Freedom Riders and the alumnus whose historical scholarship helped bring their stories to prominence visited campus. More than 300 people students, faculty, staff, alumni and members of the local community watched excerpts from the Emmy Award-winning documentary “Freedom Riders” and then heard Freedom Riders Diane Nash, Ellen Ziskind and Paul Breines and leading historian Ray Arsenault, MA’74, PhD’81 discuss the efforts of civil rights activists to challenge segregation in the American South in 1961.

Production and distribution of “Fifty for the ’50s,” a compendium of pages from The Justice student newspaper that chronicled Brandeis’s first decade. “Fifty for the ’50s” was distributed at the first ’50s decade Reunion in June 2010 and mailed to all alumni from the ’50s.

March 22, 2011 — Harvard Law professor Charles Ogletree, one of the country’s foremost experts on race and justice and a passionate advocate for the rights of the accused, spoke about race, class and crime in the United States.

More than 200 people attended an event featuring leading anti-racism activist Tim Wise, who spoke about his new book, “Between Barack and a Hard Place: Challenging Racism, Privilege, and Denial in the Age of Obama.”

Justice Brandeis stampSept. 29, 2009Brandeis Celebrates Brandeis, a pair of events that paid tribute to Justice Brandeis as he returned to the public consciousness through the issuance of a U.S. postage stamp (right) in his honor and the publication of a new biography in the fall of 2009.

Oct. 23, 2008 — The Brandeis Explores the Journey of Humankind Project gave student volunteers the opportunity to trace their family ancestry, while highlighting the existence of a shared human history. Renowned geneticist and anthropologist Spencer Wells, the explorer-in-residence at the National Geographic Society and director of the Genographic Project, gave a public lecture on campus as part of the project.

March 25, 2009 — The visit of Kim Bobo, a leading voice for workers’ rights and justice and the founder of Interfaith Worker Justice, who came to campus to talk about her experiences as a social justice leader and organizer.

Dec. 1, 2008 — The 40th anniversary celebration of the founding of the Transitional Year Program (now the Myra Kraft Transitional Year Program) at Brandeis.

The Justice Brandeis Jubilee, a year-long campus celebration of Justice Brandeis’s 150th birthday during the 2006-2007 academic year, which included academic symposia, art and archival exhibitions, a birthday reception, and other events.

Production of “Louis Brandeis: The People’s Attorney,” a 50-minute documentary directed by Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Charles Stuart that aired on PBS.

“If we would guide by the light of reason we must let our minds be bold.”

Justice Louis D. Brandeis