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Frequently Asked Questions

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What is the FAO Schwarz Fellowship?

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

What is social impact?

Social impact directly targets the root causes of inequality. A social impact approach involves understanding the causes of social challenges, addressing the drivers, and creating, implementing and managing innovative solutions that significantly reduce or eliminate inequities.

What do Fellows do?

As a Fellow, you’ll spend about half of your time engaged in direct service delivering your host organization’s programs to the community. Our current Fellows’ direct service work includes, tutoring, advising college-bound students about financial aid, presenting workshops on healthy eating to school children, leading environmental field trips and mentoring at-risk youth.

For the other half of your time, you’ll work on a strategic projects that enhance the work of your host organization—and give you the opportunity to hone your leadership and management skills. You might design an alumni engagement program for students served by your host organization, conduct research and develop tactics to support program expansion strategy, or develop a policy agenda aligned with the priorities of your organization (more about direct service and projects here).

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 work plus the professional development experiences and mentoring you receive over the course of the Fellowship combine to give Fellows a valuable jumpstart to a career in social impact.

Are Fellows paid?

Yes. FAO Schwarz Fellows who start their Fellowship during the summer of 2020 will receive total compensation of approximately $77,000 over the two-year Fellowship.

Here’s how that breaks down:

$30,000 salary for the first year
$30,000 salary for the second year
$2,000 bonus at the end of the Fellowship
Healthcare benefits plus subway pass (value of approximately $15,000)

Does the Fellowship or the Host organization assist with re-location expenses?


Where do Fellows work?

FAO Schwarz Fellows work at some of the most innovative and effective nonprofit organizations in the country (see the list of the current host organizations).

Where are the Fellowships located?

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

Is housing included in the Fellowship?

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

What about professional development?

We’re deeply committed to the professional development of our Fellows—it’s a core component of the program. The program hosts two professional development retreats a year. These four-day retreats include hands-on workshops, site visits and discussions with leading professionals in organizational development, policy and education.

At our retreats, you’ll also build relationships with a network of current and alumni Fellows. They’ll be valuable sources of advice and support during your fellowship and beyond. They can provide help with job applications, advice about graduate programs and information on a variety of topics that can support your success and growth (more about retreats).

What mentoring do Fellows receive?

Mentoring is a major component of the Fellowship. Fellows meet weekly with a supervisor at their host organization. They also have an Alumni Fellow mentor and a FAO Schwarz Family Foundation Trustee mentor. In addition, the Executive Director of the Fellowship will support you in your Fellowship experience from day one (learn more about mentoring here).

What’s the cohort experience like?

No one succeeds alone. Your peers, your colleagues and your friends all play a role in your growth and future success. That’s why the cohort matters so much and why Fellows value it so deeply. For most Fellows, it is their first experience of professional collegiality.

The shared experience of growing as leaders, as professionals and experts—of discussing your work with others who know what you are going through, of being able to turn to others who are working on similar social problems with their organizations and learning from them—is powerful, even transformative. It will give you a deep understanding of the world of social impact leadership.

As you go through the program, your network evolves into a valuable resource that includes alumni fellows, host organizations and well-known social innovators. You’ll 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?

We’re proud of our alumni Fellows—this is why we call them the Supremes! After their Fellowships come to an end, Fellows go on to new careers and new challenges. Some accept full-time jobs in new roles at their host organizations. Others attend graduate programs, and some pursue new opportunities at other social impact organizations.

Ask any of our incredible alumni Supremes, and they’ll tell you that the Fellowship has proven indispensable in shaping their careers. From applying to graduate school to pursuing further opportunities in the social impact sector—no matter what path a Fellow chooses, we know that they leave us with a powerful sense of what is possible when we work together to address critical social problems.

Can you explain the benefit of the Fellowship subway pass?

Starting with the cohort of Fellows that begin their Fellowships during the summer of 2020, host organizations will pay for the cost of a subway pass (MBTA in Boston, SEPTA in Philadelphia, MTA in New York City) for Fellows who use the subway regularly in their commute to work. This benefit does not apply to other forms of travel (e.g. car, train, commuter rail).

How do I apply?

Applications open in early November when we announce the next group of host organizations. Prospective Fellows then apply directly to the host organizations, which conduct their own screening and interview processes. The deadline for applications is February 15. Hosts announce their decisions in April (more about applying).

Who is eligible to apply?

Applicants must be college seniors at accredited four-year institutions at the time of application and 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 free to apply to this highly selective fellowship.

Can I apply for just one year?

No. We’ve designed the Fellowship as 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.

How many Fellows are accepted each year?

We accept 5 or 6 new Fellows each year. Since it’s a two-year Fellowship, the Fellow cohort in any given year is 10-12 Fellows.

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 here.

What’s the deadline for applying?

Application are due by 11:59 EST on February 10. Late application will not be considered.

When will I know if I have been accepted?

Hosts notify Fellows of their decisions during the month of April.

Are international students eligible to apply?

At this time, our host organizations cannot sponsor visas. Applicants must be college seniors at the time of application and be 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 are positioned to be leaders in the social impact and nonprofit sectors. Successful candidates will have a record of academic excellence, demonstrated leadership and a strong commitment to social justice (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 social inequities and advancing social justice (more about Fellow backgrounds).

How can I learn more about the Fellowship Program?

We periodically host online information sessions. See when the next session is here.

Whom should I contact if I have questions?

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

What types of organizations host Fellowships?

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

Which organizations have hosted FAO Schwarz Fellows in the past?

The FAO Schwarz Fellowship has placed Fellows with more than 30 different nonprofits since our founding. These highly respected organizations serve communities in New York, Boston and Philadelphia and are well-known for the efficacy of their work and the quality of their programs. Learn more. 

How do you select the hosts?

The Fellowship is always learning about the work of prospective host organizations. We research organizations in our three cities—Boston, New York and Philadelphia—and listen carefully to the recommendations of past hosts and Fellows, and talk to social impact leaders in our own network.

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

For more information about how the Foundation selects and works with prospective host organizations, click here.

How is the cost of the Fellowship financed?

The Foundation provides the host organization with $62,000 to fund the Fellow’s salary of $30,000/year for two years plus $2,000 at the end of the second year of the program. The Foundation also covers the cost of Fellowship-related professional development.

The host organization provides the Fellow with health insurance benefits as well as a monthly transit (MBTA, SEPTA, or MTA) pass for the duration of the Fellowship. The Host also pays for overhead (e.g., desk, phone, supervision, etc.). The estimated cost to the host organization is approximately $7,000 a year but may be lower if the Fellow is covered under their parent’s health insurance plan.

How do Fellows receive professional development?

In addition to their work with the grant recipient, Fellows also receive professional development experiences through the Foundation. The Fellow must be made available for up to eight weekdays per year for training, mentorship/networking, and reflection organized by the Foundation. These trainings are an important component of the Fellowship. They ensure that the full cohort of Fellows can share their experiences and expertise and benefit from discussions with leading social impact professionals and experts in organizational development, policy, and education. If the Fellows are not able to safely convene for in-person retreats, the Foundation will organize virtual trainings. 

The Executive Director or a senior member of the management team at each host organization is also expected to devote two hours per year to leading a training session or participating in a panel discussion at one of our training sessions. The Foundation also asks that the Fellow’s supervisor help plan a site visit and skills-building session that will contribute to the effectiveness of the training sessions held in the host organization’s city. Fellows also allocate approximately two hours per week on projects related to the Fellowship that develop their skills in management, marketing and strategic planning.

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

Host organizations are responsible for recruiting and hiring the FAO Schwarz Fellows, taking care to identify outstanding college seniors with a strong academic record, significant leadership experience, and commitment to social impact. Grant recipients will be expected to complete recruitment in April with Fellows starting their two-year positions in the summer.

Host organizations must adhere a common application deadline (February 10) and common notification month (April). In order to meet these deadlines, host organizations begin recruiting efforts in November 1. 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 five online info sessions, postings on job boards at several hundred colleges, an extensive email marketing campaign to college fellowship advisors and prospective fellows, social media efforts and more.

What is the timeline for recruiting and hiring a Fellow?

Hosts selected: November 1

Recruiting and outreach period: November – February 10

Common application deadline: February 10

Screening and interview period: February 10 – March 31

Finalist notification period: Early April

Fellows selected and hired: April 30

Fellows onboarded: Summer