The Public Service Fellowships program funds students who are looking to engage in sustainable, culturally sensitive service work locally, nationally, and abroad. Through fellowships, students can take on projects ranging from piloting their own social enterprises to consulting or interning for a service-oriented organization.
Through fellowships, students can take on projects ranging from piloting their own social enterprises to consulting or interning for a service-oriented organization. Before beginning your application, please carefully review the program overview and information on eligibility, timeline, and the selection process.
- Complete an applicant information form
- Submit your project proposal (see guidelines below)
- Upload your resume
- Request a letter of commitment from your community partner
- Request a letter of recommendation from an MIT faculty or staff member
Please read before you apply
The information below describes everything you need to include in your project proposal. You will need to enter this information in the online application system. We recommend that you prepare your text offline and then copy and paste it into the relevant sections online. You can save your work as you go and return to edit it before finally submitting.
Be specific in your application. Don’t just tell us what you are going to achieve, show us how you’re going to do it. There are suggested limits on your answer length, so make each word count. Provide concrete examples and clear connections between your work plan and your goals. And remember, we are probably not technical experts in your field, so write in clear language anyone would be able to understand.
- First name
- Last name
- Project title
Project abstract (200 words)
Summarize your application. Be clear, specific, and jargon-free. Pretend that a friend who knows little about your project asks you to explain your proposed work. How would you describe it to them? Include the name of the community or organization you will be serving and its location.
Funding request total
How much money are you requesting from the PKG Center?
Community needs and community partner
Identify the community you will be serving and the organization or people you will be working with. Who is your main community partner, what is their role in the community or organization, and how will they support your work?
Describe the need that you and your community partner will address and explain why it's significant. As specifically as possible, describe the impact you intend your project to have on the community. How will the community be different because of your work? What are the sustainable benefits of your project? Who will benefit?
The rest of your application should explain how you are going to address the community needs you describe, so focus on the local rather than global scale. For instance, it is not relevant to know that 2 billion people worldwide lack clean drinking water. However, it is relevant for us to know that you plan to provide clean drinking water to 30 households that currently lack it.
Work plan (1–2 pages)
Essentially, this is your plan of attack. Imagine you are describing your work plan to someone who needs to implement it without you. What are your goals? What steps will you need to take and in what sequence in order to accomplish those goals? What is the timeline for this work? How will you evaluate your success in meeting your goals? Roughly, how will your time be organized and spent? What preparation do you need to do? Describe your plan primarily in words, not charts.
If you are applying with other people, outline each person's role in the project and how you will work together.
How many weeks do you plan on spending on your project at the location specified? Will you be working part-time or full-time and how will this shape your work plan? If you will also be doing significant work from MIT during the semester before or after, outline this in the work plan.
Qualification (half page)
What qualifies you to make a success of this project? Describe what you bring to this project in terms of directly applicable skills, knowledge, first-hand experience, job experience, hobbies, etc. What, if any, courses have you taken will provide particular background for your project (4 courses max)? We will also read your resume, but we want you to explain how your skills will help you to do the proposed work.
List the languages you know that may help you in the community you will be serving. Give the skill level (fluent/intermediate/beginner) for both written and oral competencies for each language you list.
Teamwork (half page, if relevant)
If you will be working with other people on this project, list each team member and their MIT affiliation (if any) even if the other people are not applying for a fellowship through the PKG Center. If any of the team members are applying for a fellowship or funding at the PKG Center, indicate this.
Describe each person's roles and responsibilities. How will your jobs intersect and support each other? Would you consider doing the project if not all members of the team receive funding? Tell us what sort of role you prefer to take in a team, and what sort of people you do and do not enjoy working with on a team.
Important! If you are applying with other people for a group fellowship, each group member must write and submit individual applications. The selection committee will award Fellowships based on applicants' individual merits, so there is no guarantee that people who apply together will be selected together.
Motivation and personal outcomes (half page)
Tell us why you want to do this work. What is driving you to take on this challenge? Do you have previous experience working on this issue or in the particular community in which you have proposed this project? What do you want to learn or experience? Will the work advance your personal or professional career?
Safety and cultural impact (1 page)
Outline your safety considerations for the project. What are the main safety issues in the location you will be working in? What steps will you take to prioritize your safety and what resources have you identified to help you stay safe? Does your project have any safety implications for the community you are serving and how will you address these?
If you are planning a project in a relatively high-risk location, you will need a particularly strong safety plan and work plan.
Help us to understand how the cultural context will affect your project. Tell us about any experience you have living and/or working with other cultures. How might you prepare yourself for living in the cultural context relevant to the project you are applying for?
Fellowship funding is intended primarily for living and travel expenses.
Include a project budget explaining:
- What you need funding for. For example, plane tickets, accommodation, ground transportation, or food.
- How much each item will cost. For ongoing expenses like accommodation, list the weekly and total expense.
- What funds you have for the project so far — including your own money if you can contribute any, other sources you have applied for and intend to apply for, and how much you are requesting from the PKG Center. If any of these funds can only be spent on certain types of expenses, note this.
If you receive funding from other sources after applying to the PKG Fellowships program, we require that you notify us, and we may make appropriate funding modifications in consultation with you.
Letter of commitment from community partner
You’ll be asked to give the name and email address of a key community partner you will collaborate with. The online system will then email them a request for a letter of commitment for your project.
This letter should outline the project idea, describe how you and your community partner plan to work together, and show the community partner's commitment to supporting you with project advice and local knowledge.
Letter of recommendation from MIT faculty or staff member
You’ll also be asked to give the name and email address of an MIT faculty or staff member. The online system will email them a request for a letter of recommendation. Your recommender should be in a position to vouch for your achievements, abilities, character, and motivation. Their comments must be pertinent to your ability to carry out the project(s) you are applying for.
Important! Please make sure you have talked to your community partner and recommender before submitting these forms and that they are expecting the request and familiar with your plans.
Note! If you are applying for a group fellowship, each applicant needs a separate MIT faculty reference. The group may submit a single letter of support from your community partner as long as this letter mentions each group member by name and shows awareness of the full scope of the project.
Committee on the Use of Humans as Experimental Subjects
If your fellowship involves human subjects research such as surveys, tests, observation of public behavior, or the study of instructional strategies, then you must apply for approval from the Committee on the Use of Humans as Experimental Subjects (COUHES) and complete an online human subjects training course. Visit the COUHES website for details.
Service projects typically fall into the exempt category, which requires COUHES approval and passing the online course, but is a relatively fast and straightforward process. However, you should start working on this soon!
Note that the fellowships administrator, Alison Hynd, is authorized to sign exempt forms for fellows as the Faculty Sponsor. In contexts where it’s not realistic for community partners involved in the research to take the online training or equivalent, then you may instead propose a training session to ensure your community partners understand the fundamentals of ethical research with human subjects.
Don’t worry, we can help with all this!
For ESG applicants
If you are applying for the ESG-PKG fellowship, please indicate this in your materials, and make sure you read the ESG-PKG fellowship overview.
What are Public Service Fellowships?
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