Gleitsman Leadership Fellowship

Gleitsman Leadership Fellowships are funded through an endowed gift to CPL from the estate of Alan L. Gleitsman. These fellowships provide significant financial support and a robust cocurricular experience to promising Harvard Kennedy School students interested in social change.

Gleitsman Fellowships recognize Harvard Kennedy School students for their background or potential as activists. With the income generated by a $23 million endowed gift from the estate of Alan L. Gleitsman, CPL launched the Gleitsman Program in Leadership for Social Change (GPLSC) in 2007. It was Mr. Gleitsman's hope that if the world knew of the accomplishments of social activists, others would be inspired by their stories and would fight to correct some of the other problems facing the world, thereby improving the quality of life for all of us.

"My experience at CPL was absolutely transformative. It inspired prepared me through skill-based learning...and it connected me with a broader base of fellows that could push ideas forward. Every day I carry that experience with me in my work."

-Babak Mostaghimi, MPP '10


Step 1: Apply to Harvard Kennedy School: Application deadline is early December 1, 2016.
Step 2: Apply for the Fellowship: Application deadline for the Gleitsman Fellowship is February 24, 2017.

To apply for the Gleitsman Fellowship please visit the Student Financial Services web site.

Applicants must submit:

  1. Resume or Curriculum Vitae, not to exceed 2 pages in length.
  2. A document containing written responses to the following two prompts:
    1. Please discuss a topic you are passionate about and its personal significance (1,000 words or less).
    2. Please discuss briefly your interest in the fellowship and how your experiences and goals have motivated you to apply (200 words or less).
  3. Two letters of recommendation specific to your fit for the Gleitsman Fellowship. The letters must be in PDF form, signed by the referrer, on letterhead indicating the referrer’s institution. All application materials, including recommendations must be submitted by the fellowship application deadline, February 28, 2017.



Finalists for the Gleitsman Fellowship will be asked to participate in an interview with members of the Gleitsman Fellowship Selection Committee.

About the Program

  • Gleitsman Fellows are awarded a scholarship up to full tuition and health fees for up to two years, depending on the length of their graduate degree program.
  • Successful applicants will demonstrate their potential as emerging social activists and innovators and interest in pursuing a career with transformative impact on society, as well as demonstrating strong character and excellent academic credentials.
  • The Gleitsman Fellows are part of the Center for Public Leadership's community of graduate fellows and will participate in an enriching co-curricular experience designed to enhance their skills and engage their development as the next generation of public leaders. The co-curricular program typically includes a welcome retreat, a weekly series of speakers, workshops and seminars, a field experience (a multi-day trip to a major U.S. city), and opportunities to connect with other Center for Public Leadership fellows and alumni.
  • Welcome Retreat: CPL Fellows interact with and get to know one another and begin the process of supporting one another's aspirations as leaders.
  • Leadership Discussion Series: On a weekly basis, the Fellows engage one another as well as eminent practitioners and local and national leaders on topics of service and leadership.
  • Field Experience: Fellows, along with selected students from the broader Kennedy School community, take a multi-day trip to a major U.S. city and meet with area leaders in order to gain an understanding of the deep rooted problems of society and innovative approaches to resolving them.
  • Connection with CPL and Gleitsman Fellows Network: Fellows engage with these other emerging leaders as they begin their careers through opportunities like roundtable discussions, mentoring experiences with fellowship alumni, leadership skills workshops, and networking events.


Award decisions will be primarily merit based but with a consideration of financial need as determined by the HKS Student Financial Services. Both domestic and international students are eligible to apply. Active participation in the weekly co-curricular program is a requirement of all fellows for the duration of their award.

Alan L. Gleitsman, was a successful entrepreneur in the television industry for more than three decades and the founder of The Gleitsman Foundation, which he established in 1989 to honor individuals who have initiated social change. Mr. Gleitsman "wanted to recognize people who make a difference, tell their story and make other people aware of what one person can do."

In addition to the Foundation, Mr. Gleitsman initiated a scholarship program at UCLA designed to help attract outstanding medical students to the field of geriatrics; was honored by the University of Southern California for his contributions to cancer research; participated in the International Peace Walk in the Soviet Union; and established a scholarship program at the high school he attended in Great Neck, New York that is awarded annually to the school’s most outstanding graduate.

Mr. Gleitsman began his business career in sales for Sterling Television, a television program distribution company that later became The Walter Reade Organization. In 1970, he started Alan Enterprises, Inc. in Los Angeles, specializing in the syndication of television programs in the United States. By the time he sold the company in 1986, he had acquired the rights to a substantial library of motion pictures, cartoons and series, and was actively involved in distribution to television and video throughout the world.

With the income generated by a $20 million endowed gift from the estate of Alan L. Gleitsman, CPL launched The Gleitsman Program in Leadership for Social Change (GPLSC) in 2007. It was Mr. Gleitsman's hope that if the world knew of the accomplishments of social activists, others would be inspired by their stories and would fight to correct some of the other problems facing us, thereby improving the quality of life for all of us.

The GPLSC's three principal components are:

  • The Gleitsman Leadership Fellowship Program, which provides significant financial support and a robust co-curricular experience to promising students interested in social change;
  • A set of programmatic initiatives, including visiting practitioners and curriculum development, through which CPL plays a catalytic role in the School's (and Harvard's) efforts to better prepare students as leaders for social change, whether through activism, social enterprise, or other strategies for change; and
  • The Gleitsman Citizen Activist and International Activist Awards, each of which carries a $125,000 cash prize and enables students and the greater Harvard community to learn from the presence of an extraordinary change agent when she or he visits campus.
  • Does the fellowships selection committee have access to my Harvard Kennedy School admissions materials?
    The Gleitsman Fellowship selection committee does not see the personal statements, transcripts, or letters of recommendation submitted to the HKS admissions committee, only the documents submitted on this form.

  • May I apply to more than one fellowship?
    Applicants may apply for multiple fellowships at CPL, but we encourage applicants to think about which fellowship aligns with his/her experience and goals.

  • Where do I send my fellowship application materials? Where do I send my fellowship recommendations if sent separately by the referrers?
    All students’ application materials go to the Financial Aid office; any questions regarding the Financial Aid site or general application should be directed to Student Financial Services. CPL may only accept those letters sent separately by recommenders. (See instructions above on sending recommendations by email or postal service.)

Please Note: the fellowship/scholarship review process requires that we be able to electronically compile your submitted materials into a single document. It is imperative, therefore, that none of the documents you submit be protected by passwords or any other means. For example, documents submitted as PDFs should be configured to permit edits, changes and copying. If the fellowship/scholarship for which you are applying requires you to submit a letter from a recommender, please remind your recommender not to protect these documents. If you do submit protected documents you risk not being considered for the fellowship/scholarship for which you have applied.