YLS Receives $3 Million Gift from Robina Foundation to Support Human Rights Fellowship Initiative
July 24, 2008

Yale Law School will expand the next generation of human rights leaders with the help of a $3 million gift from the Robina Foundation. The gift, to be administered over the next three years, will create the Robina Foundation Human Rights Fellowship Initiative at Yale Law School, which will provide support for human rights leaders at all stages of their careers, from J.D. students to senior-level fellows.

The Robina Initiative will meet the intense interest students have in human rights and their need for financial support to pursue human rights careers. It will also foster the work of human rights advocates by providing opportunities for them to spend time in residence at Yale Law School. 

“Investing in the development of human capital is a critical, but usually overlooked, step toward ensuring the successful future of the human rights movement worldwide,” said Dean Harold Hongju Koh. “The Robina Foundation Human Rights Fellowship Initiative here at Yale Law School will seek to fill that gap by educating future leaders at all levels and fields of human rights work.”

Through the Robina Human Rights Fellowship Initiative, Yale Law School will make financial support available as:

• Student Scholarships—financial aid to offset the tuition of students committed to human rights careers;
• Summer Human Rights Fellowships—living stipends and travel funds available for first- and second-year law students to spend the summer working in human rights-oriented jobs.
• Postgraduate Fellowships—funding for Yale Law School alumni to begin their human rights practice immediately after law school;
• Fellows in Residence—opportunities for scholars, clinicians, government servants, and practitioners to take time away from the intensity of their international human rights careers to explore and contribute new ideas in the stimulating intellectual community of Yale Law School.

The result of these efforts, said Dean Koh, “will be an expanding network of superbly trained human rights scholars, practitioners, and teachers capable of making a difference in all varieties of human rights struggles.”

Gordon Aamoth, president of the Robina Foundation, said, “James Binger, a Yale alumnus and prominent Minneapolis businessman and philanthropist, established the Robina Foundation funded by his estate with the purpose of supporting projects that are transformative that will positively affect our society and the world we live in. We believe the Robina Human Rights Fellowship at Yale Law School will do this with a lasting legacy.”

Yale Law School has long been committed to human rights education and advocacy. For decades, its Orville H. Schell Jr. Center for International Human Rights and Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic have educated and provided valuable experience to top-flight students passionate about human rights promotion, hired academic and clinical educators with the theoretical and practical knowledge to train students in the practices most likely to yield human rights improvements, and created a community of alumni committed to a culture of encouraging public service. An array of fellowships, including the Robert L. Bernstein Fellowships in International Human Rights, provides opportunities for current students and graduates to deepen their experience. By operating in partnership with the Schell Center, the Robina Initiative will build on the Center’s reputation, allowing the Law School to expand its impact on human rights across the world.

The Robina Foundation, a Minnesota-based private grantmaking foundation, seeks to positively affect critical social issues by encouraging innovation and financially supporting transformative projects of its four institutional partners: Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis, The Council on Foreign Relations, Yale University, and the University of Minnesota Law School. These partners were selected by the Foundation’s founder, James H. Binger, a 1938 alumnus of Yale College who passed away in 2004 at age 88. Mr. Binger was a noted philanthropist, theater entrepreneur, and former chairman of Honeywell. Through the Foundation, his vision, sense of adventure and generosity, and commitment to creative endeavors endure.