A Summer Program in Social Justice: The Forge Fellowship Experience

Mar 18, 2020

The Roosevelt Institute Forge Fellowship is a summer opportunity for students currently enrolled at community colleges and public universities across the country that do not have an existing Roosevelt chapter on their campus. Participants will be trained in core policy, organizing, and base-building skills, and receive one-on-one guidance from Roosevelt staff and alumni as they build chapters and launch policy projects. Fellows will receive a stipend of $1,500 plus funding to cover work expenses and travel costs while attending a retreat in New York; additional schoolyear funding is available.

We talked to D’Andre Gordon, a recent Forge Fellow, to learn more about the program and get some application tips.  

1. What inspired you to apply for the Forge Fellowship?

I was inspired to apply for the Forge Fellowship through the Roosevelt Institute because it seemed like an opportunity to serve my community. Given my strong interests in public policy and my work in the field, I view the Forge Fellowship as a way to more actively and meaningfully engage my community. 

Additionally, I had hoped to gain deeper insights into how the field of public policy work. The Roosevelt Institute’s strong emphasis on increasing public goods aligns well with my worldview because I firmly believe that the exponential increase in corporate power and presence is detrimental to humans’ wellbeing and the world as a whole.

2. What have been some of the most eye-opening moments during your fellowship?

The most eye-opening moment in my fellowship thus far has been just how much my project has been refined. I started with a bold, but not a radical idea, and since then my idea has changed quite a bit. Initially, I wanted to work with county officials and community members to establish a community development authority since my county does not have one. The community development authority would give the county more power to create affordable housing. 

Since my initial idea, the focus has changed from creating more affordable housing to raising awareness about gentrification and mitigating the adverse effects of gentrification on low-income, and predominantly communities of color. In my project’s current form, I hope to work with community members to create a traveling art exhibit that highlights what gentrification looks like in various parts of Saint Paul. The exhibit will be used as a medium to uplift the voices of people who are most negatively impacted by gentrification and hopefully create policy changes on the local and state level that protect the rights of low-income people and communities of color. 

3. What tips would you give others applying to the Forge Fellowship?

The Forge Fellowship application is fairly simple. The application asks that you provide some basic demographic information like where you attend college, your address, and your name. Once a person has completed the demographic information section, there are questions that ask about how you define community and give you an opportunity to speak about social justice issues that you care about. Additionally, the fellowship application asks about your leadership style. 

The biggest tip I would give people applying for the Forge Fellowship is to be their authentic selves and speak about their passions. If they have a policy proposal, they should discuss their proposal/s as well. 

D’Andre is a senior at Metropolitan State University studying Psychology and Criminal Justice. He is very passionate about creating lasting and impactful positive change on the community and interpersonal levels. D’Andre hopes to earn a law degree and work in foreign policy and criminal justice. In his spare time, he enjoys watching Netflix and Hulu. His favorite show is How to Get Away with Murder. 

Interested in applying? Bookmark Roosevelt Institute Forge Fellowship to your ProFellow account.

© Victoria Johnson 2020, all rights reserved.