Fellowship for Serving African American Communities

The Fellowship for Serving African American Communities brings together diverse and talented emerging leaders based on their demonstrated leadership promise and demonstrated interest in reducing disparities in African-American communities through efforts in health care, education, economic development, public policy, criminal justice reform, social entrepreneurship, and a variety of other fields. The program connects fellows with highly accomplished national and international leaders and provides them with the skills to:

  • Foster sustainable change in communities,

  • Build cross-sector partnerships and collaborations, and

  • Inspire new ideas and innovative change in programs and policies that serve communities.

We need committed people working to achieve social change despite significant odds. We need emerging leaders who want to strengthen their ability to transform communities. We need you.


"This Fellowship provided me with a family that helped me find a power within me that I couldn't yet see. In clinical training I was taught to care for others, often forgetting to care for myself. With the fellowship family, I was always a conversation away from another fellow pushing deep self-exploration. Wednesday nights were filled with empowering accountability, inspiration, and comfort in a learning environment unlike anything I've ever known."
-Kyle Renard Burton, MPP/MD '19


Step 1: Apply to Harvard Kennedy School: Application deadline is December 3, 2019.

Step 2: Apply for the Fellowship: Application deadline for the Fellowship for Serving African-American Communities is February 4, 2020.

To apply for the HKS Fellowship for Serving African American Communities please visit the Student Financial Services web site.

Applicants must submit:

  1. A biographical profile, not to exceed 150 words. (This profile should be short, concise and in the third person.)  Please include the following highlights: an introductory sentence including your name; the degree you are pursuing at Harvard Kennedy School in addition to any joint degree at Harvard or concurrent degree program at another graduate or professional institution; where you are from and where you currently reside; an overview and highlights of your relevant work/professional experience; significant leadership achievements including awards or certifications; and educational credentials with the degrees earned and institutions attended.

  2. A document containing written responses to the following two essay prompts: 1. Please discuss a topic you are passionate about as it pertains to reducing disparities in predominantly African-American communities in the United States and your experience/s as it relates to this topic. Please include specific examples in your response. (750 words or less) 2. Please discuss briefly your interest in the Fellowship and how your leadership goals have motivated you apply. (200 words or less)


Finalists for the Fellowship for Serving African-American Communities will be interviewed in spring, 2020 by members of the Fellowship Selection Committee.

Please visit our Fellowship FAQs page for more information.

Program Information

The Fellowship Experience

Fellows will participate in a yearlong cocurricular program designed by Harvard Kennedy School’s Center for Public Leadership. This not-for-credit program is intended to inspire, to provide concrete opportunities for leadership skill-building, and to connect fellows with an interdisciplinary network of like-minded peers and mentors that will last a lifetime.

The Fellowship cocurricular program will include regaular dinners, an annual retreat, and robust field experiences grounded in discussions with visionary leaders whose work has had significant impacts in marginalized communities. The program will also focus on strengthening core competencies that are central to public leadership, such as promoting strong moral character and ethics, mastering the arts of persuasion and negotiation, and leading effective teams and organizations.

The Fellows for Serving African American Communities will create a vibrant network of students and alumni committed to advancing knowledge, collaborating on solutions to pressing problems, and building leadership capacity in their communities, their nation, and the world.


The fellowship is open to all admitted degree program students at Harvard Kennedy School. Applicants will be considered based on their academic credentials and demonstrated leadership promise and interest in reducing disparities in African-American and other underserved communities.

Commitment to Nondiscrimination   

As a matter of commitment, policy, and law, Harvard Kennedy School does not discriminate on the basis of gender, gender identity, color, race, age, sexual orientation, religion, national or ethnic origin, political beliefs, intellectual focus, disability, or veteran status. The School strongly believes diversity enhances the value of all its activities, from research and teaching to degree programs and public events. The School encourages applications from candidates who are interested in careers in public service and acknowledges a special responsibility to train effective leaders in public policy and management.