AmeriCorps & Partner Opportunities


Do you want to help make a difference in the lives of people involved in the criminal legal system?  The Missouri State Public Defender’s Holistic Defense Services Program has teamed up with AmeriCorps Missouri to pioneer a groundbreaking holistic approach to public defense. This approach tackles the root causes of our clients’ involvement in the criminal legal system and helps to break the cycle of criminalization.  

As a Holistic Advocate, you will play a vital role in growing MSPD’s Holistic Defense Services Program, helping to shape the future of Missouri’s criminal legal system. Your dedication and passion will drive the transformation of a system that values compassion, fairness, and the inherent worth of every individual.  

Holistic Advocates will step into Missouri communities and engage with local service providers to connect clients to essential resources and services – which can help us get clients out of jail and back to their families and communities. Advocates will also collaborate closely with attorneys to help share their clients’ meaningful and powerful stories in their cases.  

Are you ready to make an impact? Apply to join our dynamic team of Holistic Advocates today! 

MCSC AmeriCorps logo with dark blue and red designAs a Holistic Advocate, you will join us in the fight for justice by 

  • Connecting clients to a wide range of vital resources, from housing and mental health care to substance use treatment and transportation. 
  • Helping clients obtain essential documents and services, like IDs and health insurance, to help eliminate barriers and create more stability. 
  • Uncovering the untold stories of clients through in-depth interviews, delving into their backgrounds to provide a holistic perspective that truly represents their journey. 
  • Rallying support from their loved ones and community by engaging with family, friends, and support systems, while collecting impactful letters of support that amplify our clients’ voices.  
  • Crafting compelling memos that weave together the narratives of our clients, showcasing their unique experiences and circumstances.  
  • Building relationships with community partners to break down barriers and ensure that clients have access to the support that they need.  
  • Embracing data-driven impact by collecting and analyzing valuable data to track the transformative effects of our work, paving the way for evidence-based change. 

Holistic Advocates will join a passionate team that thrives on collaboration, as you work closely with attorneys, clients, and support staff in your local trial office. Plus, Advocates will gain invaluable guidance and extensive training from our regional and statewide Holistic Defense Services team.

Required Minimum Education and Experience

High school diploma or equivalent is required. Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university is preferred. A specialization in social work, psychology, sociology, or closely related field will be favored. 

Qualified candidates will be empathetic, resourceful, non-judgmental, organized, and will have a passion for public service. Candidates must have an ability to build rapport and trust with people from a diverse range of backgrounds and identities. Strong writing and advocacy skills will also be beneficial for this role. 

Service Period

As part of the 2024-2025 AmeriCorps program, these positions are designed to span from 9/1/24-8/31/25. We seek full-time candidates, but less than full-time opportunities may be available

Living Stipend/Benefits

Candidates who can commit to serving roughly 35-40 hours a week are preferred. Part-time service options may be possible at all listed service sites, please contact us for more information. Holistic Advocates are eligible for a living allowance, paid in regular bi-monthly increments; member health care coverage for full-time members who are not otherwise covered by a health care policy; a Segal AmeriCorps education award at the end of the term; and professional development training. 

Service OptionsTotal Service HoursEstimated Annual Living AllowanceEstimated Education Award AmountHealth Insurance Coverage
Three quarter-time1,200$24,640$4,826.50No
Reduced half-time675$13,376$1,824.07No

For a more comprehensive look at AmeriCorps State benefits, visit AmeriCorps Member Benefits.

Many universities offer scholarships, application fee waivers, and other benefits to AmeriCorps members. You can find school-specific details on the Schools of National Service list.

Potential Placement Locations

Various sites across the state of Missouri.


Applications are now open. Please submit your application through the AmeriCorps Listing. We plan to hold interviews in late-April/ early-May 2024 and make offers by the beginning of June 2024.


The Missouri State Public Defender (MSPD) is developing a more holistic approach to public defense– an approach addressing the needs and risk factors of clients outside the scope of traditional representation. The Holistic Defense Development VISTAs will work with attorneys, social workers, AmeriCorps Holistic Advocates, and MSPD leadership to increase MSPD’s capacity to address such needs and to play a crucial role in establishing a more holistic approach to public defense in Missouri. Results will include improving case outcomes, life outcomes, and the economic opportunity of our clients and their communities.

AmeriCorps Logo

Specifically, VISTA members will:

  • Develop an understanding of public defense and the problems afflicting MSPD clients
  • Evaluate the current state of Holistic Defense Services by gathering and analyzing feedback and program data
  • Maintain and build upon existing program partnerships, resources, guides and manuals
  • Develop a framework for maintaining and expanding grant funding, training initiatives, and volunteer networks related to the holistic representation of MSPD clients, and more

Those who wish to have a positive impact on the criminal legal system and its intersection with poverty and social instability in Missouri are encouraged to join us in our effort to support our vulnerable community members and deliver a more equitable approach to the criminal legal system. Qualified candidates will be inquisitive, collaborative, resourceful, open-minded, effective at expressing complex concepts and hold a passion for public service. Preferred candidates will display effective leadership, organization, communication and project management skills. Ideal candidates will have excellent attention to detail, strong computer skills, and a general knowledge of statistics or data collection. The VISTA will serve for one year and be placed in St. Louis, Kansas City, or Columbia.

Full-time VISTA members will receive a living allowance of $22,819 for the duration of their service and a choice between an end-of-service-stipend or an AmeriCorps Education Award. For a more comprehensive look at AmeriCorps State benefits, visit AmeriCorps Member Benefits.

Many universities offer scholarships, application fee waivers, and other benefits to AmeriCorps members. You can find school-specific details on the Schools of National Service list.

Potential Placement Locations

VISTAs may serve in Kansas City, St. Louis, or Columbia. St. Louis and Kansas City are preferred.


The application is currently open. Please submit your application through the AmeriCorps Listing. We plan to hold interviews in mid-April 2024 and make offers by the beginning of May 2024.


MSPD has enlisted the services of the national organization Partners for Justice to help us bring on advocates who will provide our clients with holistic defense services.

About Partners for Justice 

Partners for Justice (PFJ) was founded to transform public defense at scale, diminishing the effect of race and wealth on legal outcomes. This means empowering public defenders to assist clients with the underlying drivers of arrest and achieve better legal and non-legal outcomes, ensuring people can walk away from the criminal legal system with their rights, lives, and future intact.

About the Partners for Justice Professional Fellowship for Client Advocates

Our Professional Fellowship offers a unique opportunity to drive meaningful change while gaining hands-on experience within the criminal legal system. As a Partners for Justice Client Advocate, you’ll engage in a meaningful fellowship experience designed to make a concrete difference in clients’ lives. With training, mentorship, and ongoing support, Advocates are integrated as full-time employees within public defender offices across the country, offering real life exposure to the criminal legal system.

During your Professional Fellowship, you will become part of a carefully selected nationwide cohort of fellows with aligned passions and goals. Throughout your time, you’ll cultivate negotiation, persuasion, and storytelling skills that will prepare you for professional and academic opportunities beyond your placement. In preparation for future opportunities, the PFJ Professional Fellowship offers access to professional development support, funding, training, coaching, mentorship, and assistance in professional and academic applications. Acknowledging the challenges of working inside the criminal legal system, Partners for Justice also supports Advocates with mental health and wellness programming, funding to support access to mental health services, and an Advocate Hardship Fund to address financial emergencies. PFJ also provides relocation assistance to fellows who indicate financial need.

What You’ll Do as a Client Advocate

As a Client Advocate Fellow, you’ll serve as a full-time, in-person, entry-level employee within a public defender office for up to two years. Opportunities for employment beyond the fellowship’s duration are at the discretion of the public defender’s office. Advocates play a pivotal role in providing client-led direct service to people facing criminal charges. Each day presents new challenges and opportunities, from direct engagement with clients to collaborative efforts with community partners.

As a Client Advocate you will:

  • Build relationships with and interview clients to understand their challenges and priorities, as well as identify potential consequences of an arrest.
  • Provide clients with streamlined access to wraparound services, including but not limited to; housing, employment, social and medical benefits, and treatment needs.
  • Advocate for clients by engaging with service providers, landlords, employers, prosecutors, judges, and others, conveying clients’ stories and needs in a compelling way that gets results.
  • Coordinate with legal and social service teams to support to facilitate collaboration and communication on client cases.
  • Partner with attorneys to compose persuasive narrative reports, support arguments, and provide relevant information and records.
  • Maintain detailed knowledge of court processes and requirements
  • Collect and report data about work and your achievements.
  • Actively participate in the Partners for Justice Professional Fellowship program.

Who We’re Looking For

Partners for Justice is committed to equity and inclusion in our Advocate selection process. We urge people who have been impacted by the criminal legal system or who share lived experiences with public defender clients to apply for PFJ placements.

As a potential Client Advocate, you will need:

  • A demonstrated interest in public service or social justice.
  • Strong relationship management skills or customer support experience.
  • Outstanding written and verbal communication skills.
  • Comfort in working with minimal oversight and the ability to independently
    structure your own work.
  • Past work or volunteer experience within a public defender office, a legal office
    serving low-income people, or in social service delivery is preferred.
  • Reliable transportation.
  • Professional-level Spanish language skills are highly valued. Spanish-speaking
    Advocates in some offices are eligible for a pay increase.
  • Interested in working within a public defender’s office in the

You should be an early-career professional or be willing to accept an entry-level
position. Please note that Advocates cannot offer legal or clinical support, and we are
unable to place licensed social workers or candidates with JDs.

Compensation and Benefits

Annual compensation ranges from $40,000 to $55,000, depending on office
placement. In addition to the fellowship’s supplemental benefits, employment
benefits are specific to the placement office and may vary; however, all placements
include medical coverage and paid time off. More information on the compensation
and benefits package for specific placements is provided during the interview process.

Application and Selection Process

To apply for the summer 2024 cohort, please visit Applications close on March 25, 2024.


Reach out to Alex Lubbe, Holistic Defense Services Coordinator, at or 314-340-7625 ext. 247.