Tow Policy Advocacy Fellowship

The Tow Policy Advocacy Fellowship provides John Jay College of Criminal Justice graduate students with hands-on internships working for successful policy advocacy organizations in New York City while they complete relevant coursework to deepen and enrich their field experiences.

A collaboration between the Tow Foundation and the College, the fellowships are administered by the Prisoner Reentry Institute and open to graduate students committed to social justice. Fellows complete the program ready to join the workforce as the next generation of social justice policy advocates.

Students accepted to the Tow Policy Advocacy Fellowship receive full tuition remission at the in-state rate for the fall and spring semesters while they participate in the Fellowship.  The nine-month Fellowship, which begins with a week-long orientation in August each year, has two components:  Advocacy and Academics.

Note: The Tow Fellowship is now accepting application for its 2019-2020 cohort. Click here for more information and to submit the application.


Fellows complete a nine-month internship with a dynamic policy advocacy organization engaged in cutting edge social justice work in New York City, gaining real-world knowledge to supplement their classroom instruction. Our partner organizations range in size, scope, and approach, addressing a wide variety of social and criminal justice issues. The following organizations have hosted a Tow Fellow:

Click here to find out more about becoming a Tow Fellowship host site.


As a complement to their internships, Tow Policy Advocacy Fellows also take a graduate-level practicum in public administration [PAD 814-16]. The Practicum is a two semester, six credit course designed to prepare Fellows for and support them during their internships. Through the Practicum, Fellows will develop an in-depth understanding of public policy and problematic social issues by integrating research methods, policy analysis, advocacy, and information technology. With this foundation, they will emerge able to confidently formulate and effectively communicate empirically valid policy analysis and arguments.

Course Modules:

  • Policy Analysis: Students will learn to define problems; establish evaluative and analytical criteria; develop feasible policy alternatives; project outcomes; evaluate programs; conduct cost-benefit analyses and trade-off assessments; and master statistical literacy.
  • Communication: Students will learn to write a policy memo/brief/report; master oral presentation skills; and formulate and deliver an “elevator pitch.”
  • Leadership and Social Change: Students will develop a capacity for leadership that is attuned to group dynamics, skilled in overcoming pitfalls of collaborative work, and focused on achieving short- and long-term goals while they undergo training to identify and overcome common obstacles to policy change.
  • Political Awareness: Students will engage in stakeholder analysis, political feasibility assessment, and power mapping.
  • Research: Students will find, collect, and analyze high-quality data for advocacy; assess the impact and outcome of their work; master qualitative data skills such as interviewing, survey writing, and conducting focus groups; learn quantitative data skills such as administrative data management and analysis and descriptive and basic inferential statistics; and engage in multi-method research design.
Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible for the Fellowship, applicants must:

  • Be graduate-level students at John Jay College for the entire academic year of the Fellowship
  • Have at least a 3.2 GPA
  • Demonstrate passion about and commitment to social justice and policy advocacy
  • Intern at a Tow Fellowship partner organization for 14 hours per week throughout the academic year and participate in the required course each semester (PAD 814-816)

Meet the Tow Fellows.