Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What kind of time commitment is involved?

Fellows attend three virtual and one in-person convenings of either a day or multiple half days. 

  • Convening 1: April 17, 18, 19 @ 9am-12:30pm PT (virtual)
  • Convening 2: June 6, 7 @ 9am-12:30pm PT (virtual)
  • Convening 3: Sept 19, 20 @ 9am-12:30pm PT (virtual)
  • Convening 4: Nov 22 @ 10am-5pm PT (in person)`

Fellows also commit to writing a minimum of two opinion pieces (“op-eds”). During the fellowship year, we also encourage other forms of concrete thought leadership in the public sphere. There is no minimum time commitment; however, we expect fellows to approach this experience meaningfully and purposefully, with an appreciation for the extraordinary resources and talent invested in them. Some fellows work a lot (several hours or more weekly) because they want big and consistent results. Others work in waves, communicating in advance with their Fellowship Coach around a more flexible schedule that may include intense bursts of activity at periodic intervals. Both options are fine as long as communication is clear. Fellows are busy professionals with full plates; the same is true for our Fellowship Coaches. Our aim is to use time with radical efficiency and maximum meaning, making it possible to achieve remarkable results in an amount of time that would otherwise be impossible.  

2. Will the Fellows have mentors?

Yes. Each fellow is assigned a Fellowship Coach to serve as their journalist mentor from The OpEd Project. Generally, two Fellowship Coaches are assigned to each fellowship, each of whom mentors ten fellows (with a coach swap midway for maximum mentorship impact). Additional facilitators and journalists may attend the convenings. 

3. Will there be individual meetings with our Fellowship Coaches?

Yes. Fellowship Coaches will meet with fellows at each convening. Following the first convening, they will kick off the fellowship by setting up a one-on-one call with each of their fellows in the first week. Beyond that, there are no required individual meetings. In most cases, fellows will work with their Fellowship Coach virtually (via email, phone, or Zoom) between convenings.

4. What can I expect from my Fellowship Coach?

You can generally expect meaningful and timely support from your Fellowship Coach, but not 24/7 support. Like you, Fellowship Coaches have other full-time commitments (we are journalists and have other things cooking), but you can count on them to be in your corner regularly. 

You can expect your Fellowship Coach to provide editorial support and coaching for diverse ideas, including those with which they may disagree. You can expect your mentor to provide an initial response to your emails within 24 hours (except on weekends). Edits to content may have a longer turnaround time but will be delivered in a timely manner. Any urgent, time-sensitive requests will be prioritized by our team, and faster edits can be expected. Fellows can also expect advice and support with pitching at the start of the fellowship when our team will typically pitch for you and CC you in the outreach. As we progress, you can expect us to provide advice on pitching as you begin to pitch yourself increasingly, building important media relations skills that are imperative for becoming a thought leader.

5. What will my Fellowship Coach expect from me?

We expect fellows to treat Fellowship Coaches like colleagues, not employees (better yet, if it’s real, treat us as friends). We expect fellows to be fully present for all four convenings, start to finish, with cameras on during virtual convenings, and to bring your most challenging and most meaningful ideas to the table. At these convenings throughout the fellowship, we expect fellows to engage with one another in meaningful dialogue, sharing ideas, challenges, and successes at a regular cadence.

Fellowship Coaches expect you to engage with them regularly, responding promptly to our communications. As a condition for acceptance into this fellowship, you commit to writing a minimum of two opinion pieces. Therefore, over the course of the fellowship, we expect you to send us at least two viable drafts—and hopefully many more—and to respond quickly to edits you receive.

6. We were asked to commit to writing at least two op-eds. Will these be submitted to media outlets?

Yes. All fellows commit to writing at least two op-eds and are encouraged to work on other concrete “thought leadership” results in the public sphere (for example, a TED talk, an essay or blog post, a speech, a podcast interview, etc.). Our Fellowship Coaches will help fellows pitch at the beginning of the fellowship and, in later months, will guide fellows in pitching themselves independently. Many fellows will produce more than two pieces.

7. Can one work in other types of public media in order to be considered beyond print (e.g., op-eds, essays)?

Yes. In addition to the minimum of two opinion pieces, fellows are welcome to focus on any concrete thought leadership outcomes they wish across any media platform they like, whether written, broadcast, online, public speaking, or something else. The purpose of committing to concrete outcomes is simply to ensure we put ideas into the public sphere and not merely talk about them.  

8. Will there be opportunities to work with Fellowship Coaches to decide how, where, and when to publicize our work? Including in other media?

Yes. We work across a broad spectrum of media and will work with fellows to land on target media outlets for their pieces.

9. Will the fellowship help with venues like the New York Review of Books, London Review of Books, The New Republic, Harpers, etc., or is it just the short venues that “count”?

It depends. Fellows are welcome to aim for those magazine outlets, too, if they wish – but they should understand that doing so is a different game and (on the whole) may be less strategic. This is because literary and political magazines like the ones mentioned above tend to feature professional writers and journalists with experience in reporting. There are, of course, exceptions (several of our fellows have published in these outlets). Still, these types of outlets tend to favor the skill set of professional writers – and in this arena, academics and nonprofit leaders, who are not trained in this way, may be less competitive.  

By contrast, short-form opinion forums (across all media and public platforms) prioritize the contributor’s ideas and expertise. Communication skills still matter; obviously, one still needs to be able to express an idea clearly and compellingly, but since opinion forums favor expertise, academics and nonprofit leaders have a strong competitive advantage. For this reason, we place a strategic emphasis on these forums. 

Nevertheless, Public Voices fellows are free to weigh these strategic considerations and decide for themselves. Our curriculum is not about any particular platform – it’s about making more and better ideas happen, creating an environment where we can think more expansively, and using the best available research and methods to increase our ability to influence the planet. If we do our job, the lessons will apply to any media and any realm of life. 

10. When will fellows be expected to arrive and depart for the in-person convening in Atlanta, GA, on October 17-18, 2024?

During the in-person convening and seminar, fellows are expected to arrive in Atlanta, GA, by 2 pm on Wednesday, October 16, 2024. The in-person convening will take place from 9 am – 4 pm (EST) on Thursday, October 17, 2024, and the in-person seminar will take place from 10 am – 2 pm (EST) on Friday, October 18, 2024. Selection as a fellow includes the opportunity to attend NBCDI’s 53rd Annual Conference from Friday, October 18-20, 2024. Fellows receive complimentary registration for the conference.  

11. Are there any other in-person opportunities for fellows to attend outside of the in-person convening?

Following the in-person convening and seminar, Fellows have a unique opportunity to participate in the National Black Child Development Institute’s 53rd annual conference from Friday evening, October 18, to Sunday afternoon, October 20, 2024. 

12. Do Fellows receive in-person travel stipends?

Yes. Fellows can receive need-based travel stipends. Travel stipends will cover room and board (hotel), transportation (flights, transfers, etc.), and complimentary registration for the NBCDI Annual Conference in Atlanta, GA. 

Fellows are strongly encouraged to attend the NBCDI Annual Conference, and the travel stipend will cover full conference registration. The fellowship will provide need-based travel stipends to allow the fellows participating in their organizational and professional development to utilize those resources if available. 

13. Why are fellows encouraged to attend the NBCDI Annual Conference?

We encourage fellows to attend NBCDI’s 53rd Annual Conference from Friday, October 18-20, 2024. The National Conference is the only convening of its kind in the United States that convenes educators, policymakers, elected officials, parents, childcare providers, and corporate leaders to focus on the unique challenges facing Black children and communities and highlight their success, resilience, assets, and strengths. 

Attending NBCDI’s National Conference can benefit the writing process and awareness of issues needing a voice, thought leadership, and talented writers to start the conversation. Also, NBCDI’s conference focuses on  NBCDI’s Eight Essential Outcomes, which serve as benchmarks for achieving racial justice in early childhood.

14. What if I have to miss a convening?

Commitment to attending all the fellowship convenings and seminars in full is a mandatory step in the application. Your commitment to attend and participate in all convenings in full is also a condition of acceptance into the fellowship. 

This fellowship is built around a social mission. Your presence is not just about what you will get from this fellowship but what you will give. As a fellow, you are an important member of a small cohort chosen in part to contribute to each other’s experiences, and we expect you to show up.  

If an emergency arises, fellowship institutions (NBCDI) may allow fellows to make up a session in order to continue with the Fellowship. In such cases, we will assist the fellow to make up for the missed convening, at no charge, by attending the corresponding fellowship convening at another participating Public Voices institution if possible. Fellows are required to cover their travel costs if the make-up convening is in person. In addition, The OpEd Project provides up to one make-up spot (per fellowship cohort) at any of our public programs at no charge, as relevant. Any additional fellows who wish to attend one of our public programs can register and pay or ask for a need-based scholarship. This is because our public programs run on a separate budget under our social justice revenue model. Every spot we give away eliminates a scholarship spot we can give to someone in need.   

Please note that a fellow who misses the first convening will not be allowed to proceed with the fellowship. Please contact the Director of Fellowships at The OpEd Project to discuss any exceptional situations.