College of Law > Academics > Centers, Institutes & Initiatives > Racial Justice Initiative

Disrupting Systems of Injustice Through Research, Training & Advocacy​

Launched in Fall 2022, DePaul Law’s Racial Justice Initiative (RJI) is dedicated to advancing racial justice through a collaborative and interdisciplinary approach. By bringing together students, lawyers, researchers, policymakers and activists, the RJI focuses on creating community-driven solutions to address racial injustice and inequity in Chicago and Illinois. The initiative targets key areas such as policing, housing, economic opportunity, education, health and voting rights, operating at the intersection of public policy and the legal system.
Key Focus Areas: 
  • Research-Based Policy Work: The RJI prioritizes immersive experiences for its students, training them in research-based policy work and advocacy. In Spring 2023, the first cohort of RJI student research assistants began working on projects aimed at dismantling systemic racial injustices. These projects addressed issues such as voting rights, criminal justice and housing. Students partnered with organizations like the Chicago Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and First Defense Legal Aid to tackle voter protection and education efforts, monitor legislative changes, and draft model legislation addressing racial and environmental justice. 
  • Community Education and Outreach: The RJI is committed to community engagement and education as central components of its mission. Collaboration with the Inside Out Think Tank at Statesville Prison allowed student research assistants to provide advice to incarcerated individuals on legislative initiatives. Students also worked on analyzing police misconduct claims and assessing compliance with the Just Housing Amendment.  
  • Training and Experiential Learning: The RJI also emphasizes enhancing students’ understanding of racial injustices. The Initiative launched a speaker series and community conversations featuring prominent figures such as Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul and Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx. These events, along with the inaugural Spring 2024 Summit, "Racial Justice at the Crossroads: A Summit to Situate the Moment and Shape the Future," featuring keynote addresses and panel discussions, facilitated critical dialogue and policy momentum, while also fostering meaningful connections and conversations among attendees.  
Building on the strong foundation laid in its initial years, the RJI will continue to foster collaboration among students, legal practitioners, scholars, policymakers and activists to drive meaningful change in the fight for racial justice. It is a pivotal program that leverages the power of community collaboration to address systemic racial injustices. Through research, advocacy, education and outreach, the RJI not only trains the next generation of legal professionals but also actively contributes to the broader fight for racial equity in Chicago and Illinois.