It is with great honor that we announce and congratulate William Hrabe as a recipient of the 2019 Equal Justice Works Fellowship, one of the most prestigious and competitive post-graduate fellowships in the country. Equal Justice Works is the nation’s largest facilitator of opportunities in public interest law. Out of 450 applicants, 76 recent law school graduates were selected to launch their careers through an Equal Justice Works Fellowship project of their own design. The projects are funded by the generous support of law firms, corporations, foundations, and individuals.
William's project is with Equip for Equality, a disability rights & advocacy firm in Chicago, sponsored by Aon and Kirkland & Ellis. He will be focused on Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and remedying violations found by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) that delayed or denied services to potentially thousands of students with disabilities. Will's project will identify those students who were harmed, ensure they receive the services to which they are entitled, and set up supports to ensure that students have access to the services they deserve in the future.
More specifically, his project will provide support on three levels. First, he will be working to provide legal support or direct representation for students most in need. Second, he will visit communities that have been most harmed by CPS policies to do outreach and educate parents to enable them to more effectively advocate on behalf of their children with disabilites. And third, he will be working with an ISBE independent monitor and advocy group to report on the ongoing issues and implementation of ISBE’s Corrective Action Plan and develop policy recommendations to ensure compliance with state and federal law in the future.
"I have seen how vital these services can be, and as a result, I am best suited to ensure that students within CPS have the same opportunities as those living elsewhere," he said.
Will is no stranger to Equip for Equality, having interned with the organization for the past two summers of law school.
"I have loved working at Equip and am excited to get back there," he said.
Will came into law school knowing that he wanted to do disability rights and advocacy work. In high school, he spent a lot of time volunteering with Special Olympics and the special education program at his school. And as an undergraduate at the University of Illinois, when he couldn't find a major that was quite the right fit, he created his own, in disability studies. By the time he began law school at Illinois, he had already volunteered at the Center for Disability & Elder Law and worked as a paralegal to learn more about the legal side of disability rights.
The duration of Will's fellowship with Equip for Equality is two years. At the end of it, he is not sure where he will end up, but we are certain to see great things from him, wherever he lands.