Public Service Fellowships

Opportunities to help you give back to the community


As a Public Service Fellow, you have the opportunity to develop and implement a service project of your own design. You also have the option of interning with a service-focused organization to learn about how they operate and help them meet their mission.

Collaborate with a partner in the community

If you have a service idea you want to implement in collaboration with a community partner—or if a service organization wants your input as a consultant—apply for a Public Service Fellowship to support your endeavor. 

Pilot a social enterprise

If you are developing your own nonprofit or social enterprise, a Public Service Fellowship could help you pilot your idea. 

Explore a public service career

Public Service Fellows can also intern with service agencies. This option enables you to explore service careers or build your experience by working for service agency staff. You might help to expand an agency's services, for instance, or assess operations. This opportunity was made possible by a gift in honor of Paul and Priscilla Gray.

Looking for an idea? Community partners often suggest projects or challenges that could be developed into fellowships. Check out the listings on the Community Opportunities page.

Application deadlines

  • Applications for summer 2017 fellowships are due by noon on Friday, March 24th, 2017.
  • Applications for fall and spring fellowships can be submitted at any time.

Apply here

Proposal Writing Workshops
When: Thursday, March 16 from 12–1 pm, Friday, March 17 from 12:30–1:30 pm,
Wednesday, March 22 from 11:30 am – 12:30 pm
Where: PKG Center (W20-549) Conference Room

Eligibility

All registered full-time MIT students are eligible to apply. Graduating students can receive funding for up to three months after graduation.

Funding

We fund summer, IAP, or semester-long work. Projects can be done independently or as part of a small team (typically two or three students). However, we fund individuals, and each team member must apply individually without a guarantee of each team member receiving funding.

Fellowship funding is intended primarily for living and travel expenses. For summer and IAP projects we provide the fellowship amount upfront as a direct deposit or check. For most semester projects, funding is provided at $12/hr through the MIT payroll system.

You may apply for supplemental grants to cover additional expenses such as prototyping materials, printing, or safety equipment. Grant requests must be submitted in advance of making purchases and will not be considered retrospectively. Supplemental grants are not a guaranteed source of funding for students awarded fellowships.

Time commitments

We give preference to projects with potential for significant community benefits and sustainable outcomes, and these typically require substantial time commitments.

  • For summer, we favor projects of six weeks duration or longer.
  • For IAP projects, we favor four-week projects, but will accept shorter projects if the scope of work is appropriate.
  • For local semester-time projects, we favor a minimum of five hours per week and cannot fund students for more than twenty hours per week.

Topic and location

You can suggest projects tackling issues faced by underserved communities around the world, including the United States. If you are proposing an international project, check the MIT travel policy and travel warnings, as travel to some locations is prohibited.

We take your safety very seriously, and so should you. You must carefully consider the safety implications of the challenge you are working on and your proposed location and address these in your application.

Preparation

Start early! All fellowships require partnership with a community organization that must be established prior to submitting an application. This helps you learn more about organizational needs, collaborate with community partners to develop a work plan, and ensure that there is a mutual understanding of what the fellowship entails.

Feasibility is a crucial factor for fellowship planning. You should realistically appraise your skills in relation to the proposed project.

Additionally, request a letter of support from your community partner and a letter of recommendation from an MIT faculty or staff member early, so they can send it to us in time.

What to discuss with your community partner:

  • Learn from them about the community’s needs and challenges.
  • Collaborate with them to develop your project and work plan.
  • Arrange for someone to be your official community partner and submit a letter of support for your application.
  • Make sure they understand that you are seeking funding for the work, but may not receive it.
  • Be sure not to promise anything that you may not be able to deliver.

Selection criteria

Successful fellowship proposals will show:

  • Potential for sustainable benefit to an underserved community
  • Evidence of strong motivation to carry out the project
  • Potential for effective community partner/student relationship
  • An overall sense of project feasibility indicating that the project scope matches the student qualifications, time frame, and community partner expertise/input
  • Appropriate understanding of safety issues and a thorough safety plan

Timeline

The deadlines for submitting applications are typically mid-October for IAP and mid-March for summer, with interview invitations sent shortly after. Exact dates and deadlines are released nearer to the funding periods.

Program requirements

If we award you a fellowship, before beginning your project you will be required to:

  • Sign a contract, liability waiver, and MIT travel forms. Minors will also need the signature of a parent or guardian.
  • Submit a spreadsheet of personal and contact information.
  • Arrange for all necessary health, safety, and legal needs: e.g. passport and visa if needed, health insurance, vaccinations, etc.
  • Arrange all travel and accommodation.

While in the field, you have to:

  • Check in at least once a week with fellowship staff, describing work accomplished so far, plans for the following week, and general reflections.
  • Ensure that your community partner is supporting the project appropriately and remaining in contact with the Center staff as requested.

After fellowship work, we require you to:

  • Submit a brief report describing your experiences in the field. Alternatively, you can write a project blog during the course of the project.
  • Complete an online evaluation of your fellowship experience.
  • Submit photographs with captions.

We may also ask you to give presentations based on your fieldwork experience to members of the MIT community.

Help

Students in need of assistance developing fellowship ideas or who would like feedback on a draft or application should reach out to the fellowships staff as early as possible. We are happy to help!

Learn how to prepare your application and apply now.


Dates and Deadlines

Proposal Writing Workshops
When: Thursday, March 16 from 12–1 pm, Friday, March 17 from 12:30–1:30 pm,
Wednesday, March 22 from 11:30 am – 12:30 pm
Where: PKG Center (W20-549) Conference Room


Summer Public Service Fellowships Deadline
Deadline: Friday, March 24, noon

Apply here

 

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