The Tow Policy Advocacy Fellowship (TPAF) is currently seeking host sites for the 2017-18 academic year. Coordinated by the Prisoner Reentry Institute (PRI) and funded by The Tow Foundation, the Tow Fellowship prepares young professionals to become skilled policy advocates for social justice. Tow Fellows are John Jay College graduate students selected for their academic achievements, professional experience, and commitment to social justice. Tow Fellows work at least 14 hours per week at TPAF host sites, while also completing a two-semester, six-credit course at John Jay to build skills relevant to policy advocacy.
We aim to place Tow Fellows at successful policy advocacy organizations, where they can gain experience in the field and exposure to the legislative process at the city, state, and/or national level. The ultimate goal of the fellowship is to develop highly-qualified individuals to join the policy advocacy workforce. Previous Tow Fellows have contributed to the policy agendas of NYC nonprofit organizations by conducting outreach to and organizing constituents, developing advocacy materials, researching and tracking the legislative landscape for particular bills, assisting with coalition-building, planning and executing events, carrying out research and analysis, and meeting with lawmakers and other stakeholders.
“As a small organization we have benefited greatly by having a fellow who serves as a member of the policy staff. It has been useful to have an additional staffer to conduct background research for advocacy meetings, track our legislation, and represent the organization in meetings.” –Prior Tow Fellowship supervisor
The ideal TPAF host site is interested in making a unique contribution to the long-term vitality of this field—by providing stimulating placements with good supervision and mentoring, sharing experiences with the TPAF cohort, advising us on professional development opportunities for Fellows, and maintaining communication with us about the process and content of the program. More specifically, TPAF host sites should have:
• An active and engaging policy advocacy agenda;
• Ability to make good use of the Tow Fellow’s 14 hours/week;
• Ability to expose Tow Fellow to a wide array of aspects related to policy advocacy;
• Capacity to offer supportive and constructively critical supervision;
• Access to a wider network of allied organizations; and
• Demonstrated success in effecting policy change.
All Tow Fellows participate in a two-semester course at John Jay while completing their placement hours. The course uses foundational and critical texts in policy analysis and includes modules on policy analysis, political advocacy, strategic research and communication, nonprofit management, and leadership and social change. Fellows also engage in periodic professional development trainings in software (e.g., SPSS, LexisNexis) and skill-building (e.g., public speaking). The TPAF staff will share the Tow Fellowship course syllabus with the host site supervisors. Our hope is that the classroom-based training will support Fellows’ work at host sites, which will in turn provide context and real-world substance to classroom instruction. Fellows also have full student access to CUNY’s research resources, which may be of value to host sites.
The Tow Fellowship’s John Jay College faculty partner is Leigh Graham, PhD, a professor in Public Management and an expert in community economic development. Professor Graham teaches the TPAF course and serves as a liaison between the Fellows and the host sites. In addition, Rafael Rodriguez, Program Associate for the Prisoner Reentry Institute, manages the Fellowship, and is the primary point of contact for administrative matters.
If you would like to join us in training the next generation of advocates for social justice policy and believe that your organization could benefit from hosting a Tow Policy Advocacy Fellow, please submit this application by 5pm on Monday, July 24, 2017.
Before submitting your application, please take the following into consideration:
• The Tow Policy Advocacy Fellowship is a 9-month program. Fellows will begin their service placements at their sites in early September 2017 (the first full week of the John Jay academic calendar) and will serve through mid-May 2018.
• The application process will include a “matching event” at John Jay College, at which representatives from prospective host sites have the opportunity to meet the 2017-18 Tow Fellows. The event is scheduled for 9am to 12pm on Tuesday, August 15. Attending this event is a mandatory step for serving as a host site; the prospective Tow Fellow supervisor must attend. (1 to 2 staff members who may interact with the Tow Fellow are invited as well.)
• Host Site supervisors are strongly encouraged to attend the Tow Fellowship Host Site Supervisors’ Orientation (date and time TBD). The purpose of the orientation is to provide supervisors of Tow Fellows with information they will need to maximize the effectiveness of the Tow Fellowship for their projects, organizations, and Fellows. Specifically, Tow Fellowship supervisors will
- Learn about the background and goals of the Tow Policy Advocacy Fellowship;
- Understand their role as a supervisor of a Tow Fellow, and what they can expect from their Fellows and PRI’s Fellowship Initiative team; and
- Get answers to their questions about the Tow Policy Advocacy Fellowship.
• Fellows commit to 14 hours per week of service time to their placement site during the fall and spring semesters. During the John Jay winter break (late December to late January), Fellows are expected to average 14 hours of service time per week at their sites, but the actual time schedule can be negotiated between the Fellow and the host site supervisor (as Fellows’ schedules will be more flexible, not having classes during the break). Students are not expected to provide service to their sites during John Jay’s spring break or when sites are closed for holidays.
Returning Host Sites:
To be considered to continue hosting a Tow Policy Advocacy Fellow, please upload an updated application. All portions of the application must be included in a single Word document or PDF and must be uploaded here by 5pm on Monday, July 24, 2017.
New Host Sites:
To apply to host a Tow Fellow for the 2017-18 academic year, address the prompts below and upload your application here by 5pm on Monday, July 24, 2017. (Please label each portion of your application as detailed below. If possible, submit your application in a single Word doc or PDF. Include additional attachments as needed.)
Please organize and label your application as follows:
1. An overview of your organization’s mission and programs, including annual budget, staffing, major sources of funding, and organizational chart of the branch or unit where the Tow Fellow will be placed. (Submitting existing organizational materials as attachments is sufficient.)
2. An explanation of your interest in hosting a Tow Fellow, including current projects or organizational focus to which the Fellow would contribute. Please describe how your organization will provide the Fellow broad exposure to both the management of the organization and the larger public policy field in which it operates. Finally, please describe the benefits to the organization and the Fellow from placement, and how the host site will help develop the Fellow’s policy analysis, policy research, policy advocacy, leadership, and communications skills.
Tow Fellow Placement:
3. A position description tailored for the Fellow, including primary responsibilities, ideal qualifications, and scope of services to be rendered. Please include the days/times at which it would be most helpful to have a Tow Fellow on site, and please note also if any travel is expected. As a guide, we consider the following to be important professional development experiences for Fellows, and will look for a range of these and similar opportunities in the position description: exposure to the legislative process, participation in public meetings, meaningful interactions with policy networks, writing, public speaking, stakeholder engagement and analysis, data analysis, client-based work.
4. A description of infrastructure capacity to host a student (e.g. office space, computer, phone, as required to accomplish assigned tasks).
5. Current resume, contact info, and title for the staff member who would provide primary supervision and be the liaison between the organization and the Fellowship.
6. A statement of commitment written and signed by the Fellow’s prospective supervisor, indicating that he/she will meet with the Fellow at least bi-weekly to provide guidance, feedback, and any necessary support.
7. A signed letter of support from your organization’s Executive Director, including contact info, expressing his/her support of this application to host a Tow Fellow.