National Urban Fellows

A Master of Public Administration fellowship and mentorship experience brings diverse perspectives to social justice leadership

Dates of RWJF support for National Urban Fellows: 2005–2014

The National Urban Fellows MPA Fellowship combines graduate-level training, a nine-month mentorship, and networking to build leadership skills among people of color and women to prepare them to become “agents of change.”

Description: Racial, ethnic, and gender imbalances persist in public, private, and nonprofit leadership positions. Only 15–18 percent of the leaders in the federal government, state elective positions, nonprofit organizations, and foundations are people of color.

RWJF began funding the program in 2005 as a mentorship site, and since 2010 has been supporting initiatives that add public health-related training to the experiences of all of the participating fellows.

RWJF has served as a mentoring site for 22 National Urban Fellows from 2005 to 2013, and will continue that support at least through June 2014. Additional RWJF funding for the Health Policy Advocacy and Education Initiative at National Urban Fellows builds greater awareness of public health-related issues among all of the fellows participating in the MPA program.

Since its inception, National Urban Fellows alumni have assumed leadership positions across the country, and in almost every sector of the economy. Almost two-thirds of alumni consider themselves leaders in the policy-making arena, have held a community or civic role, and have informed legislation or public policy.

“While National Urban Fellows is a degree-granting program, it is also a program that develops a kind of courageous, social justice leadership. Combining those two ideas together is really what makes it different.”—Jacinta Gauda, National Urban Fellow board member

Some 180 National Urban Fellows have been mentored at RWJF and other foundations during the life of the program, and about 75 alumni now work in foundation settings, according to National Urban Fellows President and CEO Miguel Garcia.

Alumnus Catherine West says the National Urban Fellows experience taught her “to think big, to think boldly, to create change.”

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People of color are >33% of U.S. residents but only 15-18% of government, nonprofit & foundation leaders

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National Urban Fellows program creates diversity in social justice leadership

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