PROJECT Janice Nittoli Practitioner Fellowship

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  • How to Apply for the 2019 Fellowship

    Who Should Apply?

    We encourage mid-to-senior-level leaders who are seeking to drive change in their organizations, communities, or fields to apply. The ideal candidate will have extensive professional experience (10 or more years) working in the government, nonprofit, or social enterprise sectors and a strong record of success in helping vulnerable communities overcome barriers to opportunity and mobility. A master’s degree is preferred. Practitioners should demonstrate that their work focuses on reducing one or more dimensions of inequality.

    Program Timeline and Expectations

    The 2019 fellowship will begin in February and end in February 2020. The Urban Institute encourages the fellow to spend a minimum of one month (30 days) in residence at the Urban Institute, but the time spent in residency does not need to be consecutive, and prior fellows have made several short visits to Urban over the course of the year.

    Specific activities will depend on the fellow’s chosen topic. In general, the work will focus on developing the evidence for innovative and ambitious solutions for the problem posed by the fellow. The fellow will be expected to:

    • Collaborate with senior Urban researchers to refine the question posed during the application process and consult on an approach for developing evidence during the course of the fellowship project;
    • Assist in developing and evaluating sources of information by, for example, providing data from the home organization or identifying stakeholders for interviews;
    • Participate in team meetings and relevant site visits and exchanges to discuss emerging findings and share insights from the field;
    • Consult with other Urban research teams who are working on intersecting issues to offer a practitioner perspective;
    • Involve stakeholders at the home organization to collaborate on the research concept with the fellow and Urban research teams;
    • Co-author a paper that presents the problem being addressed, a proposed solution, and the evidence base; and
    • Develop and help implement a collaborative strategy for sharing research findings with the fellow’s home organization, policymakers, other practitioners in the field, and other key audiences.

    The fellow will receive a stipend of $70,000 over the duration of the fellowship. They will also receive funds to cover related travel and lodging expenses.

    Application Process

    The application and selection process for the third fellow is now open. A written application is required and is due by Friday, November 2, 2018 by 12:00AM EST. Finalists will be chosen and interviewed by a committee of Urban researchers via video conference throughout the month of November. The final fellowship decision will be made by December 14, 2018.

    For your written application, please prepare responses to the two prompts below. Responses for each prompt should not exceed 3-5 pages.  

    In addition to the written application, please submit:

    • (3-5 pages) Define a primary motivating “what would it take” question from your field and address the following topics:
      • Why is your question critical for improving outcomes for vulnerable individuals in your community?
      • How do you believe your work could be advanced by an active partnership with urban researchers to mine and expand the evidence base for defining problems and crafting solutions?
      • What sources of information and insight could you bring forward to contribute to exploring your proposed research question? For example, does your organization have administrative data that could be analyzed? Are there key experts in the field you would recommend the research team consult? Is there a current or proposed intervention for which you would like to develop an evaluation plan? Have you or your home organization contributed to research that the Urban Institute could extend or complement? We do not expect you to be a researcher or have engaged in prior work but want to understand the context for the fellowship’s research objectives.
    • (3-5 pages) Discuss your ability to successfully participate in a fellowship and to help disseminate insights from the research, specifically:
      • Describe your unique qualifications for the fellowship. For example, we would be interested in your track record in overcoming challenges and catalyzing change; life experiences that inform your commitment to addressing inequalities; evidence of leadership skills; and capacity to work with people from diverse fields and backgrounds to achieve results.
      • Identify concrete ways in which the fellowship work might be translated into changes on the ground, including potential policy or practice changes in your home organization and/or community (including geographic community, community of practice, and potential application in other settings). If appropriate, discuss how you would involve other stakeholders at your organization in this process.
      • Confirm your ability to spend some period of time during the fellowship year on site at Urban (e.g., multiple, short visits) and propose a ways of maintaining engagement with the project when not at Urban.
      • Discuss ideas for communicating project insights to your home organization, other professionals in your field, and a broader policy audience and suggest ways to do so from your perspective.  Dissemination activities might include blogs, policy briefs, or scholarly papers that you would co-author with Urban researchers; convenings at the Urban Institute or your home organization; and/or speaking opportunities and other communication channels available through your home organization, professional associations, or networks.
      • Describe any organizational and personal challenges in completing the fellowship and discuss how these might be addressed.
    • The most current version of your Curriculum Vitae (CV)
    • Contact information for three professional references (references will not be contacted without your prior knowledge)

    To learn more about the fellowship, see our home page. All inquiries regarding the fellowship can be directed to

    Policy Centers Center on Labor, Human Services, and Population