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What is the FAO Schwarz Fellowship?

The FAO Schwarz Fellowship is a two-year program that helps new college graduates gain the skills and experience needed to become social impact leaders. Fellows work at leading nonprofit organizations in Boston, New York City, and Philadelphia is known for delivering significant value to their communities. The Fellowship program also includes a variety of professional development, mentorship, and networking experiences. Read an overview.

What is social impact?

Social impact directly targets the root causes of inequality. A social impact approach involves understanding the drivers of social challenges, addressing systemic causes of specific inequities, and creating, implementing, and managing innovative solutions that increase inclusion and reduce inequality. Read more about social impact.

What do Fellows do?

Fellows spend 45 percent of their work time engaged in direct service to the community. They spend an additional 45 percent on special projects that build capacity or strengthen the impact of their host organization. The remaining ten percent is spent on professional development, cohort gatherings and Fellowship-related projects and activities such as social media and recruiting. 

Direct service work has taken the form of tutoring, advising college-bound high school seniors about financial aid, presenting workshops on healthy eating to school children, leading environmental field trips, mentoring students, and beyond. Special or strategic projects provide Fellows with opportunities to hone their leadership and management skills. Examples include designing an alumni engagement program, conducting research and developing tactics to support program expansion strategy, or developing a policy agenda aligned with the priorities of the host organization. Read more about direct service and projects.

What kind of Fellowship-related projects are Fellows involved in?

Fellows spend about 2 hours each week engaged in Fellowship-related activities. These activities offer different avenues for Fellows to gain skills while working with other Fellows. Activities often have a strategic component and include planning professional development retreats, making presentations, developing communications recommendations, connecting with alumni Fellows, planning and conducting social media campaigns, and writing blog posts. These activities help Fellows expand their skills and portfolios while giving them opportunities to work closely with other Fellows. 

Hosts commit to ensuring their Fellows are available to participate. This work is valued by the Fellowship and ensures that our Fellows’ perspectives and ideas become part of the design of the program.

How is the Fellowship different from an entry-level job?

Entry-level jobs in many nonprofits are not typically comprised of equal parts direct service and strategic projects. That combination plus the professional development experiences and mentoring Fellows receive over the course of the Fellowship provide a valuable jumpstart to a career in social impact. 

Are Fellows paid?

Yes. Fellows who start their Fellowship during the summer of 2024 will receive total compensation of approximately $90,000 plus benefits over the two-year Fellowship.

• $42,000 in year one (includes $2,000 start of Fellowship bonus)

• $48,000 in year two (includes a $3,000 end of Fellowship bonus)

• Health insurance coverage (100% — approximate value $12,000/year)*

• Monthly subway pass (approximate value $1,200/year)

• Professional development & leadership training

*Fellows are responsible for co-pays and any expenses not covered by insurance.

Does the Fellowship or the host organization assist with relocation expenses?

No, but the start-of-Fellowship bonus is meant to support with some of these up-front costs.

Where are the Fellowships located?

We offer Fellowships in Boston, New York City, and Philadelphia.

Where do Fellows work?

FAO Schwarz Fellows work at some of the most innovative and effective nonprofit organizations in the country. Read more about our host organizations.

Is housing included in the Fellowship?

Housing is not included in the Fellowship, Your host organization and Fellows in your city can help you navigate the process of finding housing.

How does the cost of living in each city compare?

We recognize that some cities are more expensive than others and that every Fellow’s needs will differ. While FAO Schwarz Fellowship offers salaries that are competitive with those of other prestigious fellowships, we appreciate that city living can be expensive. To learn more about the cost of living, we encourage you to explore cost-of-living calculators like those at Nerd Wallet and CNN Money. In addition to the salary, all positions include health insurance and public transportation passes, which would otherwise come out of your salary in an entry-level role.

What about professional development?

The Fellowship is deeply committed to the professional development of our Fellows—it’s a core component of the program. 

In addition to ongoing training at the host organization, professional development led by the Fellowship takes place during two professional development retreats each year. These four-day retreats take place on a revolving schedule in our three cities and include hands-on workshops, site visits, and discussions with leading professionals in organizational development, policy, and education.  

Fellows build relationships with a network of current and alumni Fellows and host organizations during these retreats. This network becomes a valuable source of advice and support during and beyond the Fellowship experience. From job applications to advice about graduate programs and information on a variety of leadership topics, this network supports the success and growth of our Fellows. Most of our alumni Fellows will tell you that the professional development they received was one of the most valuable aspects of the program. Read more about professional development

What mentoring do Fellows receive?

Mentorship is a major component of the Fellowship. Fellows meet weekly with a supervisor at their host organization. They also connect with an Alumni Fellow mentor and an FAO Schwarz Family Foundation Trustee mentor. In addition, the Executive Director of the Fellowship supports all our Fellows during their Fellowship experience from day one. Read more about mentorship.

What’s the cohort experience like?

No one succeeds alone. Peers, colleagues, and friends all play a role in a Fellow's growth and future success. For most Fellows, the cohort experience is their first experience of professional collegiality.

Each cohort typically includes six first-year Fellows and six second-year Fellows. Although the Fellows lived across the three host cities of Boston, NYC and Philadelphia, they are uniquely positioned to empathize with each other’s experiences and support each other’s growth. The cohort often connects online and sometimes in person to exchange ideas. The shared experience of growing as leaders, professionals, and experts—of sharing experiences with peers at the same stage of their careers, of being able to turn to others working on similar social problems with their organizations and learning from them—is powerful. 

As Fellows go through the program, they find the same resources in the FAO Fellowship network—a valuable resource that includes alumni fellows, host organizations and well-known social innovators. Fellows learn to use the network to address challenges, solve new problems and collaborate on big ideas. The most critical challenges of our time can only be solved when we work together.

What do Fellows do after their Fellowship is over?

After the Fellowship, some alumni Fellows accept full-time jobs in new roles at their host organizations. Others attend graduate programs, and some pursue opportunities at other social impact organizations. About 95 percent continue to pursue leadership roles related to social impact.

Ask any of our incredible alumni Fellows, and they’ll tell you that the Fellowship has proven indispensable in shaping their careers. No matter what path a Fellow chooses, they leave us with a powerful sense of what is possible when we work together to address critical social problems.

Who is eligible to apply?

Applicants must be college seniors at accredited four-year institutions at the time of application. They must also be eligible to work in the United States for the duration of the Fellowship.

Do I have to be nominated?

No. Any eligible candidate is welcome to apply to the Fellowship.

How do I apply?

Candidates apply directly to the host organizations. Hosts accept applications starting in early November after we announce the new Fellowship positions. 

The deadline for applications is February 5. Hosts announce their decisions in April. Read our application overview for more info.

Can I apply for just one year?

No. The Fellowship is a two-year program. If you accept an offer, you are making a two-year commitment to complete the Fellowship program with your host organization.

Can I apply to more than one host organization?

Yes. But you should apply to the host organizations that best match your interests and professional goals. Please be aware that the application process can be time-consuming so you may want to focus on your first-choice organization.

Is there a preferred major?

Fellowship positions do not require a specific major. 

However, to the extent that a major reflects a deep interest, that could be to a candidate’s benefit. Over the years, we have partnered with a wide variety of hosts in areas as diverse as the arts, environmental justice, education, food security, health and wellness, civic engagement, gender equity, and economic opportunity. While some majors or experiences may be an advantage for a particular position in a particular year, no specific major or academic experience is required to apply. 

How many Fellows are accepted each year?

We typically offer 6 new Fellowship positions each year. Since it’s a two-year Fellowship, the number of Fellows in any given year is usually 12.

When do you announce the host organizations?

New hosts are announced in early November. We’re happy to email you if you’d like a notification. Sign up at this link.

What’s the deadline for applying?

Applications are due by 9:00 PM ET on February 5. Late applications will not be considered.

When will I know about final outcome of the application process?

Each host will notify candidates by the end of April. 

What is the waitlist?

Some candidates may receive an invitation to be on a waiting list. If the selected Fellow is unable to participate in the program for any reason before they start, a host may choose to offer the position to a candidate on the waiting list.

Are international students eligible to apply?

At this time, host organizations cannot sponsor work visas. Applicants must be college seniors at the time of application and eligible to work in the United States for the duration of the Fellowship.

What makes someone a strong candidate for the Fellowship?

The Fellowship is designed for graduating seniors who want to be leaders in the social impact and nonprofit sectors. Successful candidates will have a strong academic record, demonstrated leadership, and a strong commitment to social justice. Read more on applying.

What colleges have Fellows come from?

Our Fellows come from a diverse range of colleges and universities. Their majors have varied and include social sciences, education, sciences, and the humanities. What they share is a commitment to eliminating systemic inequality and advancing social justice. 

How can I learn more about the Fellowship Program?

Our website has comprehensive information—our blog provides more personal perspectives. In addition, we periodically host online information sessions. View the schedule here.

Do you have social media or other materials about the Fellowship that I can share with my students?

Yes! We have a one pager as well as links to info session recordings that you can share. A good way to get the word out is to let students know when we have free info sessions.

You can find us on social media @faofellows (Instagram, Twitter/X, Threads) or FAO Schwarz Fellowship (LinkedIn, Facebook).

Let us know if there is something else you would be interested in.

Whom should I contact if I have more questions?

You can always email us at contact@faoschwarzfellowship.org.

What types of organizations host Fellowships?

We work with strong nonprofit organizations with a track record of social impact, innovative programming, and enthusiastic community support. Many of these organizations operate in multiple locations. While they may focus on the environment, arts and culture, educational equity, or other issues, all are involved in serving children, teens, or young adults. 

Which organizations have hosted FAO Schwarz Fellows in the past?

The FAO Schwarz Fellowship has placed Fellows with more than 30 different nonprofits. These organizations serve communities in Boston, New York City, and Philadelphia and are highly respected for the quality of their programs and the results they are able to achieve. View the list of current and former host organizations. 

How do you select the hosts?

The Fellowship is always learning about the work of prospective host organizations. We focus on organizations in three cities, Boston, New York, and Philadelphia, and carefully consider the recommendations of past hosts and Fellows. We also gather suggestions from social impact leaders and other foundations in our own networks. Some of the key host organization characteristics we seek are a compelling mission and model, stable and talented leadership, and a commitment to DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) practices.

We then invite a select group of organizations to consider hosting a Fellow. We work with them to design a valuable Fellowship experience that contributes to the leadership development of the Fellow. The Fellowship includes direct service and a strategic project that will strengthen the organization and advance its mission.

Read more about how the Foundation selects and works with prospective host organizations.

How are the salary and benefits of the Fellows financed?

The Foundation provides the host organization with a grant to support each Fellow's salary. The Foundation also covers the cost of Fellowship-related professional development. The Host organization covers some of the Fellow's salary as well as the cost of health insurance and a monthly subway pass.

How are candidates for the Fellowship position recruited and what is the timeline?

Host organizations are responsible for recruiting and hiring their FAO Schwarz Fellows, taking care to identify outstanding college seniors with a strong academic record, significant leadership experience, and commitment to social impact. Hosts are expected to complete their hiring process in April with Fellows starting their two-year positions in the summer. The Foundation provides detailed guidelines to the organizations selected to host FAO Schwarz Fellows in October. 

The Foundation also invests significantly in promoting the Fellowship positions through a coordinated campaign that includes online info sessions, postings on job boards at colleges, an extensive email  effort to college fellowship advisors and prospective fellows, social media efforts, and more.

What is the timeline for recruiting and hiring a Fellow?

Hosts selected: October
Hosts announced: November 1
Recruiting and outreach period: November – February 5
Common application deadline: February 5
Screening and interview period: February 5 – March 31
Finalist notification period: April
Fellows start Fellowship:  Summer