The Policy Academies has three primary programmatic components. Together, they provide seamless supports from college completion through graduate school to early career:

1) Academy Fellowship Training  -- one and two year fellowship programs for undergraduates and pre-masters students of color in the nation’s leading think tanks. When Fellows complete their training fellowships they will become Graduate Fellows and automatically a part of the  Alumni Fellowship Program.

2) The Alumni Fellowship Program -- supports the early career development of Academy graduates.

3) Graduate School Network --  The Policy Academies is designing this component to formally collaborate with leading  graduate programs in public policy and related fields to support the Academy alumni's  further education and training and allow them to complete graduate school on time and debt-free.

The Policy Academies programming is free of costs to participating students. The Policy Academies will also cover airfare, lodging, and a competitive stipend.

Academy Fellowship Training Programs

The Academy Fellowship Programs

The undergraduate programs are  one-year fellowships for undergraduate students each year entering their senior year of college.  The Masters-level Academies will annually host two-year fellowship programs for students entering Masters programs in such areas as social and economic policy, urban planning and public administration. Each fellowship will begin, on location at one of out distinguished partner institutions, with a summer-long program of skills-building and training in policy analysis and research tailored to the student’s level of policy and research experience.  Exposure to career networks will also begin at this early juncture.  Programming will include:

Policy Seminars – Daily discussions with senior scholars from a range of think tanks;

Technical Skills Seminars – Daily hands-on training in research methods and statistical applications programming;

Guided Research and Writing – Research mentor teams will guide a research project on a policy topic of each fellows’ choosing. The Policy Academies will also arrange for fellows to have opportunities to present their research in professional settings;

Peer Research Review – Weekly research project review and support sessions led by The Policy Academy staff;

Exposure to Policy Careers – Weekly visits to leading policy institutions for seminars with senior staff and executives;

Career Skills Seminars – Weekly seminars led by human resources experts and research staff.

After completing the Academy, all Fellows will have:

•       Training in rigorous quantitative and evidence-based research;

•       Understanding of how to conduct data analysis with commonly used public policy datasets; 

•       In-depth knowledge of a range of domestic policy issues;

•       A completed research paper or policy brief on a topic of their choosing;

•       Understanding of how research is used in public policy debates;

•       Familiarity with careers in public policy research and their requirements;

•       Improved research presentation skills; and

•       A professional network of policy researchers and practitioners to support their career advancement.

Alumni Fellowship Program

The Alumni Fellowship Program

The Alumni Program focuses on the early career development of Academies graduates. The Alumni Program works with our think tank partners to offer continued skill building, network development, career support, publication opportunities and connections to graduate schools and fellowships. The Alumni Program design has been informed by the 41 alumni of the original pilot.  The core components of the program include:

  • Publication Opportunities - The Policy Academies will work with partner organizations to provide research and policy paper publication opportunities for program alumni. The Policy Academies staff will help finalize and polish the work and recruit policy experts to review drafts. Publications with leading research organizations will promote alumni career advancement. The Urban Institute and Brookings have already committed to publishing Academy alumni products.
  • Annual Policy and Career Development Convening – This 4 to 5 day annual convening will give Academy alumni a chance to connect with each other in-person as well as with leaders in the DC policy community. This convening will also serve as a graduate school and career fair.
  • Social Justice Data Lab –  One central activity of the annual convening will be providing Alumni the opportunity to perform discrete data tasks for small community based and/or racial equity organizations with limited data analysis capacity.  The Policy Academies staff will supervise the completion of these tasks.
  • Advanced Mentoring – Program alumni have noted they have some discomfort in asking work supervisors or graduate school department staff for career advice.  To support this important function, the Academies will maintain a database of researchers and professionals willing to serve as on-going mentors or to be contacted for one-time consultations.
  • Professional Development – The Alumni Program will offer opportunities for additional training on empirical research methods and software skills courses, (e.g. GIS, STATA, R, Python), and provide advanced workshops on analytical and research writing as well as seminars on the effective use of data for advocacy.
  • Formal Career Network– The Policy Academies staff will create and maintain an extended network of institutions, organizations and agencies to provide alumni with the most current information on job opportunities, fellowships and trainings.
  • Supporting Peer Connections – Alumni have reported that they would like a space to celebrate their victories and share problem-solving advice with one another.  The Alumni program will support these connections via social media, newsletters or Listservs. 
  • Graduate School Application Support– The Alumni program will create workshops and webinars on the graduate school application process.  We will also offer peer-review of graduate school applications, cover letters, etc. Alumni would also be connected with our mentor network to have policy experts review application essays and provide feedback and coaching. 

Graduate School Network

Graduate School Network

The Policy Academies’ staff is in the process of developing formalized partnerships with leading graduate school programs in public policy and related social sciences.  The Academy will serve as a feeder program for these graduate programs. We will additionally work with these schools to make sure that Academy alumni receive all necessary supports to ensure graduates school program retention and on-time completion. In addition, we will work towards ensuring Academy alumni complete their graduate studies debt-free so they can make the career choices that best serve their communities. To ensure that Academy graduates prepared for their courses of study, the graduate school program partners roles will advise on the Academy’s  curricula, and giving general program guidance when requested. An example of this relationship, during the pilot program, George Washington University offered a full scholarship to their Masters in Public Policy program for one Academy Fellow for 2010 and 2011.


We are also developing an extended Scholar Network that will serve as informal advisors to The Policy Academies programming and curriculum development as well serves as mentors to the Alumni fellows as they move through their early careers.  We recognize that young people often need advocates and supports outside of their home institutions.  Additional guidance for young analysts and researchers, serve as thesis and dissertation reviewers, provide support for targeted job searches, general career guidance, etc.