Fellowships: Diversity, Criminal Justice Reform, Education and More

Throughout my career, fellowships were central in assisting my academic pursuits and research with colleagues in the U.S. and abroad. I have fond memories of these awards, because they enriched my life and work. Federal and private donor fellowships are awarded for a multitude of reasons, including dissertation completion, advanced research, collaborative and interdisciplinary work, and exceptional research in areas ranging from science and engineering to the humanities and the arts. A few examples of programs I recommend are listed below by topic:

Criminal Justice Reform

The Open Society Foundation has awarded $1.2 million to create national networks of “women affected by violence and incarceration, striving to raise public awareness of the tolls these forces take, and help women mobilize on behalf of their families and their communities.” Other fellowships have been awarded to improve life outcomes and public understanding of those convicted of sex offenses, repurpose prisons as sustainable farms, and combat racial profiling and police brutality. https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/grants/open-society-fellowship

The National Institute of Justice sponsors fellowship programs to increase the number of researchers looking at the issues of crime and justice. This is accomplished by providing early career researchers in any academic discipline with resources to engage in critical and innovative research on pressing criminal justice problems that can be advanced to the national level. http://nij.gov/funding/fellowships/Pages/welcome.aspx

Diversity and Education

The Ford Foundation Fellowship Program seeks to increase diversity at the nation’s colleges and universities. Ethnic and racial minorities are encouraged to apply, as well as those who can demonstrate utilization of diversity to enrich student education. Working in conjunction with the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, national fellowship awards are given for predoctoral, dissertation, and postdoctoral work. http://sites.nationalacademies.org/pga/fordfellowships/index.htm

The Spencer Foundation awards fellowships to strengthen connections among education research, policy, and practice through communication and networking activities. The Dissertation Fellowship Program supports grantees whose dissertations show creative potential for bringing constructive perspectives to the history, theory, and practice of education worldwide. Thirty-five fellowships in the approximate amount of $27,500 each will be awarded in the upcoming competition. http://www.spencer.org/fellowship-awards


The American Association of University Women offers fellowship support to women scholars who wish to complete their dissertation, plan research leave from their academic institutions, or prepare for their publication research. Candidates are evaluated on the basis of scholarly excellence, originality, and active commitment to helping women advance their careers and research. http://www.aauw.org/what-we-do/educational-funding-and-awards/american-fellowships/

The Women’s Leadership Program (WLP) awards fellowships for professional and developmental opportunities in the U.S. and other countries. One of the key criteria for the award is for participants to make a commitment to mentor and empower women to advance the next generation of emerging women leaders. https://www.efworld.org/our-programs/international/2015-women-leadership-program

The Forté Foundation awards fellowships to women who want to pursue careers in business. The Forté Fellows Program was created with the intention of increasing the number of women applying to and enrolling in MBA programs. This is accomplished by offering fellowships to women pursuing a full-time or part-time MBA education. To date, $68 million has been awarded to more than 3,000 Forté Fellows. http://www.fortefoundation.org/site/PageServer?pagename=mba_fellows#.Vbldq_lAaUk


The National Endowment for the Humanities has a variety of fellowships that support grantees in pursuit of advanced research that makes a significant contribution to the humanities. Recipients, who may be at any stage in the development of their projects, produce articles, monographs, books, digital materials, archeological site reports, translations, editions, or other scholarly resources in the humanities. http://www.neh.gov/grants/research/fellowships

The American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) is a leading private institution which supports scholars in the humanities and related social sciences at the doctoral and postdoctoral levels. The fellowships awarded are intended as salary replacements to help scholars devote up to one year to full-time research and writing. In the most recent competitions, the ACLS has awarded over $16 million to more than 300 scholars selected from over 3,500 applications. https://www.acls.org/programs/overview/

International Research

International Science and Engineering (ISE), in collaboration with the National Science Foundation (NSF), provides postdoctoral fellowship support for international research and education. The objective of the International Research Fellowship Program (IRFP) is to introduce scientists and engineers in the early stages of their careers to international collaborative research opportunities. These fellowships will further research on an international level and have fellows forge long-term relationships with scientists, technologists, and engineers abroad. http://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=5179

United States Agency for International Development (USAID) offers research and innovation fellowships to early-career scientists who work across the globe with universities, the private sector, research institutions, government, and non-governmental organizations to engage in research and collaborative projects. In addition, graduate students at U.S. universities may apply for funding. http://www.usaid.gov/RIFellowships/fellowship-opportunities

Distinguished Performance Fellowships

Alfred P. Sloan Foundation awards 126 two-year fellowships to early-career scientists and scholars of outstanding promise via the Sloan Research Fellowships. These are awarded to researchers in recognition of distinguished performance and unique potential to make contributions to chemistry, computational or evolutionary molecular biology, computer science, economics, mathematics, neuroscience, ocean sciences, physics, or a related field. http://www.sloan.org/sloan-research-fellowships/

The MacArthur Fellows Program, one of the most prestigious fellowships, is awarded – with no strings attached – to talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their areas. According to the Foundation, the criteria for the selection of Fellows are: exceptional creativity, promise for important future advances based on a track record of significant accomplishments, and potential for the fellowship to facilitate subsequent creative work. https://www.macfound.org/programs/fellows/

The National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) helps ensure the vitality and diversity of the scientific and engineering workforce of the U.S. The program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students who are pursuing research-based masters and doctoral degrees in science and engineering. The GRFP provides three years of support for the graduate education of individuals who have demonstrated potential for significant achievements in science and engineering. https://www.nsfgrfp.org/

Fellowships serve many purposes, but the common denominator is that they allow participants to receive an education, expand their horizons, do the research that will create paradigm shifts in their fields, contribute to their communities, and enable themselves and others to make meaningful and important contributions. In my own case, as a recipient of some of the above fellowships as well as the Fulbright Scholars Program and the U.S. Department of Education Title VI programs, I have been able to enrich my horizons, and have since been able assist others find fellowships for the same purpose.

Mathilda Harris

Over the past 18 years, she has written grants, conducted capital campaigns, developed strategic plans for grant procurement, and assisted individuals and institutions to write winning proposals for various donors.

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