Announcing the Fellowship Industry Report: Trends and Promising Approaches to Impact Evaluation and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Jan 08, 2021

ProFellow is pleased to announce the release of the Fellowship Industry Report: Industry Trends and Promising Approaches to Impact Evaluation and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. The report was prepared in collaboration with IREX, a global development and education organization.

In late 2020, ProFellow and IREX surveyed fellowship organizations, primarily those based in the U.S. The new Fellowship Industry Report provides demographic information on fellowship programs as well as insights into how organizations are approaching impact evaluation and diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

The report revealed that a growing number of fellowship programs have been established in the last two decades to provide professional and leadership development opportunities in the social and public sector. However, the industry as a whole is only in the nascent stages of incorporating impact evaluation, to measure the impact of the fellowship program in achieving the organization’s mission, and incorporating initiatives to support and evaluate diversity, equity and inclusion in fellow recruitment, programming and staffing.

Some of the key findings include:

  1. The fellowship industry is characterized by many new fellowship opportunities for early and mid-career professionals to support their development as leaders. Some of the top areas of focus for fellowships include: Leadership Development (63%), Social Justice (62%), Capacity Building (56%), Public, Community, and Global Health (55%), and Community Development/Revitalization (55%).
  2. Gender, race and ethnicity are the top tracking metrics for diversity among fellowship programs. The survey found that 87% of the fellowship programs track the diversity of their fellows by using one or more metrics, primarily gender and race. Metrics for tracking fellows’ socio-economic background, educational attainment and disabilities, among other metrics, are not commonly used.
  3. Most organizations measure the impact of their fellowship but many are challenged by a lack of measurable indicators of impact. Fellows’ satisfaction with the fellowship program/experience is the most common metric used to measure impact. Organizations are challenged by the lack of organizational capacity and in-house expertise on evaluation.
  4. The fellowship industry as a whole is in the early stages of incorporating diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives. The survey discovered that 59% of the fellowship programs have been designed to improve diversity in specific sectors or disciplines. 93% of fellowship programs are actively working towards recruiting diverse fellows. Less common DEI initiatives include staff training (59%), events and programming for fellows on DEI topics (57%), hiring diverse fellowship staff (56%), and recruiting diverse partners (55%). Only 28% of the programs evaluate the effectiveness of their DEI initiatives.

ProFellow’s CEO Dr. Vicki Johnson shared, “As a nexus for information on fellowships, ProFellow was uniquely positioned to gather data on industry trends and practices. We hope the 2020 Fellowship Industry Report will support new and on-going collaborations within the industry to achieve greater equity, diversity and inclusion in fellowship recruiting and programming, and improve our ability to measure if our organizations are achieving our respective social impact missions.”  

The research initiative was supported by a Steering Committee of fellowship organization leaders representing IREX, Global Health Corps, Mozilla Foundation, Stoneleigh Foundation, BA Women’s Alliance and the Public Policy & International Affairs Program (PPIA). 

Cheryl Schoenberg of IREX stated: “IREX was excited to partner with ProFellow on this research. We know that understanding the impact of fellowships and how such programs promote diversity, equity, and inclusion have been front and center in the fellowship community and this report serves as a starting point for further inquiry and discussions to strengthen our work in these areas.”

At this page, you can download the 38-page Fellowship Industry Report as well as a Directory of Participating Fellowship Programs is a U.S-based social enterprise that provides a free public database of more than 1,300 fellowship and funding opportunities for individuals. You can learn more about ProFellow’s mission, values and history here. For questions and media inquiries, please contact us here

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