Helping Nashville Schools During the Pandemic: The Urban Leaders Fellowship

Dec 22, 2021
Victoria Franklin, an Urban Leaders Fellow based in Nashville

The Urban Leaders Fellowship (ULF) is a paid summer fellowship lasting seven weeks. It is for early- to mid-career professionals who are already leaders in their own right and are looking to accelerate their leadership through a fellowship focusing on policy and practice. Fellows work half-time on high-level policy projects with an elected official and half-time alongside partner organizations in cities across the country. The program is offered in 9 cities: Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, Indianapolis, KCMO, Nashville, New Orleans, Oakland, and Washington, D.C. Fellows receive a base stipend of $2,500. 

We talked to Victoria Franklin, an Urban Leaders Fellow based in Nashville, to learn more about the program and get some application tips.  

1. What inspired you to apply for the Urban Leaders Fellowship? 

Potentially learning policy attracted me to ULF. I wanted to improve my STEAM advocacy efforts and enhance my project planning and program implementation skills. What better way to do that is by joining ULF, which I learned about through LinkedIn. 

My hope was to gain a network of peers who were like-minded, community-driven people who could offer me the best practices and recommendations in my leadership journey. 

2. What is a typical week like for an Urban Leaders Fellow?

A typical week as a ULF Cohort Fellow is filled with ongoing speaker series, team collaborations, and meetings with the community partners we are assigned to. The cohort model provides a level of community, experiential and reflective learning as well as peer-to-peer mentoring. I got to meet some amazing people, specifically key decision-makers within Metro Nashville Government. 

I researched evidence-based frameworks and equitable-focused strategies and investments to address considerations for Metro Nashville Public Schools administrators to safely re-open K-12th in-person learning.

The final project included a COVID19 Memorandum that includes strategies to prevent learning loss such as digital divides and provide consideration for public health strategies and best practices for reentering schools based on evidence-based frameworks. The final presentation was presented to the Metro Nashville Board of Education Constituents, and Affiliates. 

I also created a website to support Teach For America Alumni engagement that included a public forum, and a job board.

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

Be authentically you during the interview process. Talk about your willingness to learn and personally and professionally develop so that you can improve your contribution to the cause you are passionate about. The program meets everyone where they are, meaning every fellow comes from different socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds which offer greater perspectives and solutions to problems as it pertains to their projects. I want applicants to BELIEVE and KNOW that each one of them has something to offer. One thing the cohort does well is promote shared experiences to provide more meaning and authenticity. This is why the peer-to-peer collaboration concept works because you will walk away with connections and friendships that are beneficial to your purpose work. 

Vicky Franklin is a Statewide Marketing Coordinator for Tennessee Early Childhood Training Alliance, Tennessee Family Child Care Network, and a CCDF Creative Partners Team Member for the Tennessee Department of Human Services. Vicky is responsible for developing and implementing marketing strategies that drive student enrollment and improve brand awareness for eight Colleges and Universities under the Child Care Development Fund (CCDF). She serves as the National Society of Black Engineers Public Policy Special Interest Group (SIG) Communication Director and is also a professional member. She also serves as the Urban Leaders Fellowship (ULF) as the National Fellow Recruitment Ambassador and Marketing & Branding Consultant.

Vicky is currently pursuing her graduate degree in Executive Leadership, Public Policy & Administration at Tennessee State University. She obtained her Professional Master of Science in Applied Geospatial Information Systems and Bachelor of Science in Urban Studies with a minor in Nonprofit Management from Tennessee State University.

She produces a series of STEAM K-12th and College-Level project-based programming to expand STEAM outreach, improve learning experiences, increase access to higher education, and careers for students from underrepresented groups and those from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. She also activates public spaces by producing regional experiential arts and brand pop-up markets in support of microbusinesses. Because of her advocacy efforts, she was recognized with the 2019 Vision Award by the City of Memphis and Downtown Memphis Commission.

Interested in applying? Bookmark the Urban Leaders Fellowship (ULF) to your ProFellow account.

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