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Apply for a Local Policy Fellowship

Purposes

  • Provide expertise and in-person guidance directly to policymakers on important local issues, often as a member of their staff or a legislative body.
  • Make a substantial commitment to engagement. Most state-level fellowships are for Ph.D.-level scientists and engineers, run for one year, and require a move to the state capitol.

Ideal Outcomes

  • Substantive impact on policy decisions at the local level

Auxiliary Benefits

  • Gain a deeper understanding of the local policymaking process
  • Build a network of policy professionals as peers within the fellowship
  • Learn to establish and maintain relationships with representatives

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Identify which fellowship you’re interested in.
  2. Research how the fellowship operates.
    • Four elements are necessary for these fellowships: champions, a non-profit home, a liaison within the state legislature, and funding
    • Funding may come from a regional foundation, there may be a state legislature champion, and state agencies may also contribute depending on the economic times
    • Read our blog post on local fellowships
  3. Apply for the fellowship by the deadlines.
    • As these fellowships are fairly competitive, it will be important to stand out with a compelling personal statement 
    • Research the timing of the fellowship applications, as it will likely take you some time to write the necessary statements and obtain letters of recommendation
    • See our blog post for a few fellowship deadlines
  4. Prepare for the interview.
    • If you are selected for the interview, ask as many former fellows as possible about their experience, and you can also ask them to read your application materials prior to the interview itself
    • Think about why you are interested in this particular fellowship, how it ties in with your long-term goals, and how you will specifically contribute to the policy-making process
  5. Prepare to begin the fellowship.
    • If you are selected as a fellow, congratulations! Prepare with enough time ahead allowing you to move and find your living arrangements, as you will have to move to that particular state.
    • Read orientation materials and prepare the necessary documents to begin your fellowship

Examples

Article - October 30, 2022
Researching Mobile Crisis Services in Virginia
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Translational biology PhD candidate Frankie Edwards recalls his experience with analyzing data to find mobile service gaps in the Commonwealth of Virginia and how his work contributed to redesigning crisis services.

Article - November 4, 2021
COVES: Serving in Behavioral Health and Developmental Services
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Psychology PhD candidate Janey Dike shares her interest in trauma-informed, community-based supports and how it has motivated her goal to bridge science and policy.

Article - November 4, 2021
COVES: Serving as a Science Advisor
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Environmental science and policy PhD student Chelsea Gray discusses her experience as a science advisor and the up-close interaction between law and science-based solutions.

Article - November 4, 2021
COVES: Serving in the Finance and Appropriations Committee
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Integrative life sciences PhD candidate Adele Balmer shares her experience with policymaking in Virginia and how the results from a mathematical model she built has inspired her to work in science policy after graduation.

Article - March 28, 2021
From Neuroscientist to Running for Public Office
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Tepring Piquado discusses her journey from the field of neuroscience to running for public office. Read about her experiences with the California Council on Science and Technology, and her transition into the legislative process from academia.

Article - October 25, 2020
Thriving Earth Exchange: Connecting Scientists and Communities
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The AGU's Thriving Earth Exchange program connects communities with scientists to develop community science programs tackling natural hazards, resources, and climate change. These projects are driven by the philosophy that all communities should have access to science.

Article - March 8, 2020
Scientific Citizenship Initiative
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The Scientific Citizenship Initiative (SCI), based in Boston, Massachusetts, aims to make science “more socially responsive and responsible” by expanding STEM student training in leadership, communication, and ethics, and developing fellowships for scientists to serve in their communities.

Article - February 4, 2020
Apply for a Local Policy Fellowship
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Our latest playbook guide aims to help you apply for local science and technology policy fellowships for policies. We share resources to help identify, prepare to apply, and interview for the right fellowship for you.

Article - December 8, 2019
MOST Policy Initiative: A Midwestern Take on Science Policy
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The MOST Policy Initiative connects Missouri scientists and policymakers during the development of new legislation. The initiative also runs the Missouri Science and Technology Policy Fellows Program, placing Ph.D.-level scientists in the Missouri General Assembly. Director Rachel Owen recently spoke to ESAL about MOST and its importance in Midwestern politics.

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Last Updated: Feb 3, 2020
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