How to Use Your Fellowship Experience for Further Funding Opportunities

Mar 19, 2020

By Rosalyn Leban 

Your project doesn’t have to end just because the grant period is over! Recently, a fellow Fulbright alumna and I received a grant from the Citizen Diplomacy Action Fund to carry out a project in partnership with Huellas de Paz, the Nicaraguan community organization my project co-leader founded with a 2011 Davis Projects for Peace Grant. Citizen Diplomacy Action Fund grants are project-based funding opportunities that award up to $10,000. These grants are available only to teams of two or more U.S. alumni of U.S. Government exchanges, including the Fulbright Program, the Critical Language Scholarship, and the Boren Fellowship, among others. 

Eligibility for this kind of additional funding is a little-known perk of being an alumnus of a fellowship program and is just one way that you can leverage your previous grant experience for additional funding for projects after your grant period ends. Here are some tips for finding opportunities and leveraging your past experience in future applications.

Finding Opportunities

There are many funding opportunities open to previous participants in a Department of State exchange program. Department of State program alumni should consult the International Exchange Alumni website to review their eligibility for grants based on their participation in exchanges. Non-U.S. alumni of U.S. Government exchanges, for example, are eligible for Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund grants of between $5,000 and $25,000 to carry out a public service project. This year’s theme is “Women, Peace, and Security,” and applications are now open. Being an alumnus of a Department of State program also grants one access to Foundation Directory Online, a searchable directory of grants and funding opportunities.

In addition to the International Exchange Alumni website, your specific program may offer funding opportunities for alumni. For example, the Critical Language Scholarship offers small grants of up to $2,500 for projects, events, activities, or language tutoring through its Alumni Development Fund. Alumni of the Fulbright Program (both U.S. and Foreign) can apply for the IIE Centennial Fellowship. These funding opportunities are specific to U.S. government exchanges, but being an alumnus of private programs often results in similar eligibility. Many of the opportunities are not widely advertised, so don’t ignore that alumni newsletter!

2 Tips for Levering Your Previous Experience in an Application

Your grants and fellowships should feature prominently on your resume and in your other application materials, along with any other experience you have carrying out projects.

1. Highlight your ability to manage grant funds

Being an alumnus of certain fellowships does not only grants eligibility for specific grant opportunities – it also proves your ability to manage grant funds. In your application for funding opportunities, be sure to highlight your previous reception of grants to demonstrate your proven track record of effective execution and reporting. 

2. Focus on previous experience in your host community

If you’re applying for funding to work in a community where you’ve carried out grant-funding successful projects before, make sure to play up that experience. For example, my teammate and I proposed working with an organization my teammate founded as a Davis Projects for Peace grant recipient. When we applied for other funding opportunities, we made sure to emphasize our existing relationships in the community. Even when a funding opportunity doesn’t explicitly require an institutional partnership, it’s a good idea to include information about organizations with whom you’ve worked in the past to demonstrate the feasibility of your project. This is particularly important when you’re working in a community that isn’t your own.

If you have an idea for a project, your experience as a fellowship recipient can be a great asset in making your idea a reality. Make sure to research exclusive funding opportunities available to you based on your previous awards and to highlight your fellowship experience in future application materials to make the most of your experience.

Rosalyn Leban is an alumna of the 2018 Fulbright U.S. Student Research Program in Guatemala, the 2018 Davis Projects for Peace Fellowship in Nicaragua, and the 2017 Critical Language Scholarship in China. In 2020, she was the recipient of a Citizen Diplomacy Action Fund grant to carry out “Nuestra Huellas: Stories of LGBTQ+ Youth” in Nicaragua. She graduated from Mount Holyoke College in 2018 and currently works as an immigration paralegal.

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