Luke Cole Memorial Fellowship
To learn more about the importance of the Fellowship and Luke's impact on his friends, family and collegues please read our June 2012 Newsletter which features a collection of personal stories from those touched by Luke.
For National Environmental Justice Legal Advocacy
The Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment (CRPE) is launching a memorial fellowship to honor our founder Luke W. Cole. Luke made training the next generation of lawyers a priority as he led CRPE, and it remains a goal of the organization. CRPE will mentor Luke Cole Fellows to take on national environmental justice issues – in the style Luke pioneered – as community advocates and high–impact litigators. This fellowship offers a unique opportunity for new lawyers to practice the key principles of environmental justice lawyering Luke defined in his career:
1. Communities speak for themselves
(Photo: Ralph Abascal and Luke Cole, Co-Founders of CRPE)
In 1989, Luke was looking for a way to practice both poverty law and environmental law. Legal aid organizations sent him to environmental organizations. Environmental organizations sent him to legal aid organizations. No one was doing environmental law on behalf of poor people. But Luke found Ralph Abascal of California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc., who understood that poor people and people of color bear the brunt of environmental problems, and recognized the powerful intersection of environmental and poverty law. Ralph offered Luke a phone and a desk and together they created the Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment.CRPE is proud to offer the same mentorship Ralph gave to Luke to a new generation: offering law students and new lawyers a place to sharpen their skills and practice law that is meaningful to them and the communities they serve.
Luke Cole's National Advocacy
Luke represented communities throughout the country. From rural California to Kivalina, Alaska, Luke set legal precedent by identifying the shared struggle of poor people and communities of color to live in healthy physical environments. He shared lessons from community-led campaigns in publications, courtrooms and classrooms, influencing a generation of social justice advocates.
Friday March 9th CRPE, Ralph Nader and chief of Cal/OSHA Ellen Widess hosted a luncheon to promote the Fellowship. Ralph Nader was Luke's first employer out of Harvard Law School at The Center for Study of Responsive Law. Mr. Nader spoke about Luke's passion and joy.
CRPE's success today speaks to our strong mentoring tradition, and we are proud to share Luke's passion, principles and tactics, through mentorship, with the Luke Cole Fellows. Since 2009, CRPE has built upon Luke's visionary work, including:
Our Vision for the Fellowship
The Luke Cole Memorial Fellowship will be a two-year fellowship position at the Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment for a recent law school graduate. The Fellow will work closely with CRPE's Executive Director Caroline Farrell and General Counsel Brent Newell, who themselves were mentored by Luke. The Fellows will work on CRPE's National Campaign and will focus on the three main strategies Luke successfully employed as a national leader in the Environmental Justice Movement:
The Luke Cole Memorial Fellowship will provide a strong national voice in the environmental justice movement, amplifying not only CRPE's impact across the nation, but also adding a full-time advocate to this growing movement.
Our immediate objective is to raise $150,000 to fund two years of salary and benefits for the first Luke Cole Fellow. Looking ahead, we will continue to seek funding for the fellowship to ensure Luke's lasting legacy.