In the second part in our three part series on the City Hall Fellows, Rance Graham-Bailey speaks on his experience in the program and how it has influenced his career.
By Rance Graham-Bailey
It’s been two years since I completed my memorable year of service as a City Hall Fellow with the City and County of San Francisco. Among the most memorable fellowship experiences was a January 2010 visit to the 10th and Mission Family Apartments run by Mercy Housing and Catholic Charities.
Only six months removed from completing my undergraduate degree, I had much to learn about the highly sophisticated industry buttressing the work of affordable housing. It is characterized by a decentralized system that relies more and more on non-profits like Mercy Housing (as well as for-profits) as agents of the public good. It is supported by federally and state allocated low-income housing tax credits and operating subsidies such as project-based rental assistance (formerly known as Section 8 vouchers). Equally important is property management that is both tenant-driven and revenue-concerned and complicated real estate financial modeling that glues everything else together and attracts necessary debt financing.
It’s always enjoyable to reflect on past experiences that have been so formative to my current path. Even outside of our formal Civic Leadership Development Program (CLDP) sessions, I had the same hunger for figuring out why cities looked the way they did, the challenges they faced and the strategies that they employed. On one morning, I found myself traveling through East Baltimore, hearing about the Johns Hopkins-led redevelopment surrounding its campus and struck by the severity of social and physical distress in areas that were unfortunately farther away. Later that day, I subsequently “discovered” and concluded that urban planning is the best platform on which to pursue neighborhood revitalization. Later, I would realize that the CLDP curriculum of the fellowship was based-on city and regional planning, so what seemed like a discovery at the time was really just a natural progression towards viewing challenges I’d cared deeply about for a while through a bottom-up lens.
Fast forward two years later. I capped off my first year of graduate school in urban planning at MIT in May. This past summer, I spent 3 months in Chicago working with an affordable housing developer. I helped complete applications for housing subsidies, assisted the construction and rehabilitation of mixed-income housing, analyzed neighborhood social and economic conditions and contributed to the formulation of a strategy to target and redevelop scattered vacant buildings that can serve as a major impediments to neighborhood improvement. Because of the practice-based learning, innovative scholarship, tangible skills and case studies that my program has exposed me too, I am incredibly excited about where I am today and where I might be another two years from now.
Taking a step back from my particular field, I’ve always found it important to promote public service as a profession and a lifestyle in addition to a passion. With the issues that I’m focused on, it is not simply a matter of a social phenomenon, an economic challenge, a policy misstep or a matter of individual flaws. It is a multi-layered issue that requires these and other aspects to be considered (or discarded). My goal has been to take the broad view, develop a craft, operate among many sectors and seek to make a difference while being all the while reflective about the ideas and beliefs that I hold. My time with City Hall Fellows was both my first full-time job and my first foray into government and the experience continues to pay dividends in all these respects.
Rance Graham-Bailey earned a B.A. in Economics with a Minor in African and African-American Studies at Stanford University, completed City Hall Fellows in 2010 and is now a second-year graduate student at the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at MIT.
© Victoria Johnson 2012, all rights reserved.
- How The City Hall Fellowship Launched My Public Policy Career
- Examples of Leadership From The City Hall Fellows Program
- From Notetaker to Changemaker: Niiobli Armah IV on the City Hall Fellows Program
- Esteemed Fellows Dinner San Francisco: Networking Across Fellowship Programs
- April Esteemed Fellows Dinner in Washington DC
During my seminars in Boston, I talked quite a bit about public policy fellowships that offer students and recent graduates an opportunity to work in local, state or federal government. These programs include the New York City Urban Fellows Program (I’m a 2001-2 alum), the City Hall Fellows Program in San Francisco and Baton Rouge, and the Capital City Fellows Program in Washington, DC.
I also recently learned about The Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston at the Havard Kennedy School sponsors a Public Policy Summer Fellowship for graduate students to spend a summer in key state and local agencies in the Greater Boston area. Students from all graduate schools in Greater Boston are eligible, including Tufts, Boston University, and MIT. Fellows participate in a weekly seminar series with leading practitioners and scholars and receive a $7000 stipend for the summer. Fellows have worked on a diverse range of projects that include: school reform plans, environmental risk assessment, public-private partnerships, community development projects, performance-management systems, racial bias in the juvenile justice system, health coverage for foster children, and reduction plans for greenhouse gases. The Rappaport Institute also offers a Summer Doctoral Public Policy Fellowship specifically for doctoral students.
Application deadlines for the 2012 fellowship programs have passed, but keep these programs in mind when considering fellowships next years. Applications deadlines for these programs normally fall between December – January for a fellowships beginning in the summer or fall.
- Google Policy Fellows Fight for Internet Accessibility and Open Government
- A Review of Science and Engineering Fellowships
- Fellowships for Education Entrepreneurs: 3 Questions With ProFellow Chike Aguh
- Education Fellowship Sweetens The Deal With a $20K MBA Scholarship
- Esteemed Fellows Dinner San Francisco: Networking Across Fellowship Programs
In preparation for my upcoming seminar at MIT, I’ve gone back through my posts on science and engineering fellowships. Here’s a review of some of the best we’ve found.
- The Hertz Foundation Graduate Fellowship is a competitive and prestigious fellowship for exceptionally talented doctoral students in the applied physical, biological and engineering sciences.
- The Amelia Earhart Fellowship is a $10,000 award for women of any nationality pursuing a doctoral degree in the field of aerospace-related sciences and aerospace-related engineering.
- The Hydro Fellowship Program is awarded to mechanical and electrical engineering graduate students in their final year of study who are interested in conducting research related to the improvement of conventional hydropower.
- The KPCB Engineering Fellows Program is a paid summer fellowship for entrepreneurial engineering students at the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins in the San Francisco Bay Area.
- Yale University offers 20-25 annual Gruber Science Fellowships for students of any nationality pursuing a PhD in biomedical and biological sciences or in astronomy and astrophysics.
- The L’Oreal USA Fellowships for Women in Science is a competitive fellowship program that provides five awards of up to $60,000 to women postdoctoral researchers who are pursuing careers in the life and physical/material sciences, as well as mathematics, engineering and computer science.
- Code for America is a highly competitive professional fellowship program that recuits talented web developers, designers, and entrepreneurs to work on innovative tech projects in city government agencies across the U.S., including Philadelphia, Seattle, Washington, DC and Boston.
- The Google Policy Fellowship is a paid summer fellowship for undergraduate, graduate, and law students to spend 10 weeks in Washington, DC, San Francisco, Toronto or Ottawa, Canada at public interest organizations working on public policy in broadband access, content regulation, copyright and trademark reform, consumer privacy, and open government.
- The DHS Emerging Leaders in Cybersecurity is a paid professional fellowship program for computer science graduates; fellows complete rotational assignments at the Department of Homeland Security in Washington, DC.
We hope to see you at our Spring 2012 University Tour in Boston! Read here for details.
We’re psyched to announce that from Feb 27-29, 2012, I will be giving seminars at Boston-area universities on finding and applying to professional and academic fellowships. Participating universities include Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, Tufts University’s Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences, Boston University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Watch this page for updated times and locations.
This second tour will be even bigger and better than the last. I’ll provide insiders tips on how to prepare a competitive application, how to rock the individual and group interview, and how to make the most of your fellowship experience. I’ll also give an overview of a wide range of fellowships for graduate school, career advancement and experiences abroad. Stay tuned for announcements as we finalize our plans. If you have questions, please feel free to contact me.
We hope to see you there!
Join the crowd
Our step-by-step guide for a competitive fellowship application
1. Create a plan
2. Project proposal ideas
3. Talk to current / former fellows
4. Prepare an effective resumé
5. Find a host institution
6. Write a compelling personal statement
7. Prepare a strong project proposal
8. Get great recommendation letters (P1)
9. Get great recommendation letters (P2)
10. Nail the individual and group interviews