The Forge Fellowship: Reclaiming Public Power in Local Communities

This fellowship is a stipend opportunity for 5-8 students currently enrolled at community colleges and public universities that do not have an existing Roosevelt chapter on their campus. Participants will be trained in core research, policy, organizing, and base-building skills, and receive one-on-one guidance from Roosevelt staff and alumni as they build chapters and launch policy projects.

The Forge Fellowship is intended to build progressive civic infrastructure in communities and regions that have historically been shut out of political power at the federal, state, and local levels. We believe government can and should be a force for the public good — if we change who has decision-making power in our communities. The fellowship strives to enable local communities to reclaim public power by helping develop student leaders at public universities and community colleges. These leaders will work to build pathways for themselves and others to participate in our democracy. We’re looking to support students who not only have innovative and important contributions to make to the broader progressive movement but also want to start local and organize within their community.

The fellowship will start with a part-time, eight-week, remote Training Boot Camp that will run between June 3rd and August 4th. Upon completion of summer programming, Fellows will be funded to travel to the Roosevelt Network’s annual student retreat in Hyde Park, NY from August 1st – 4th, 2019. Students will then return to campus for the 2019-2020 school year with a stipend and support from Roosevelt National Staff, Roosevelt’s National Student Leadership Team, and an alumni advisor as they work to build their chapter and pursue their policy project.  


  • Community college and public university students who will not be graduating or transferring in the next academic year.
  • Students whose schools are located in the Midwest, South, and Southwest.
  • Students who have consistent access to technology (internet, phone, computer) throughout the course of the fellowship.
  • Students who are not already part of the Roosevelt Network and whose campuses do not already have an established Roosevelt chapter.

Students should complete the Fellowship in or near the community where they attend school (exceptions can be made during the summer for students who have relocated for an internship or employment).

Summer Training Boot Camp
Over the summer, each Forge Fellow is expected to complete 10-12 hours of fellowship work per week. Some of this time will be spent in mandatory training webinars and staff check-ins, and some of it will be independent work researching and drafting campus-specific materials. Toward the end of the summer, fellows will also be paired with an alumni advisor who will help support their work throughout the school year.

Fall and Spring Semesters
When Fellows return to campus after the summer, they will structure their time based on their own schedules. Each fellow will work to build their chapter and implement their policy projects on campus or in their local community. Fellows will have regular check-ins with a member of Roosevelt’s National Student Leadership Team or Roosevelt staff, as well as an alumni advisor, to discuss progress toward their goals, professional development, and opportunities for in-person collaboration with alumni and/or other fellows.

Each Forge Fellow will be paid a stipend of $1,500 for the summer, alongside receiving a $200 project budget for any work expenses incurred. Fellows will also receive a travel stipend to attend the annual Roosevelt Network student retreat from August 1-4th, 2019 in Hyde Park, NY. Upon successful completion of summer programming, each participant will receive funding to support the continuation of their work during the school year on campus. Students will also have access to advice and opportunities through an advisory group consisting of Roosevelt network alums and friends of Reese Neader.

Applications open on February 12, 2019, and close March 15, 2019, at 11:59pm EST.

Each candidate should complete an online application form. The form contains several “short answer” sections where we hope to learn more about each applicant, the work they’re interested in, and the school environment where they would be organizing. Fellowship candidates should also be prepared for a short phone conversation with a Roosevelt staff member and Network alumni.

The Forge Fellowship was created in memory of Reese Neader. Reese worked to build civic infrastructure that would confront the individual challenges faced by communities frequently neglected by political organizing. Reese recognized the untapped potential for progressive power in many of our diverse, hardworking, and often overlooked communities—largely in the Midwest. His life’s work was dedicated to building that power: he founded Forge Columbus to encourage civic innovation in Ohio, worked for the Obama campaign as the youth vote director in Pennsylvania, and served as Policy Director for the Roosevelt Network. This fellowship seeks to empower a new generation of leaders like Reese who enthusiastically envision and push for progressive policy change in their communities.

Wins from 2018

  • Detroit-based fellows had dinner with Michigan State Senator Ian Conyers, Michigan’s youngest ever State Senator.
  • Two fellows, Alex and Deondre, will participate in a Lobby Day on February 14th alongside 40 other Michigan-based Roosevelt students. Their Forge Fellowship projects are two of the ideas being lobbied for.
  • Two chapters headed by our Forge Fellows participated in our in Financialization Incubator to help develop research and advocacy campaigns to increase financial transparency and combat the increasing privatization of higher education at their respective institutions.
  • Fellows met and collaborated with other chapter leadership at our annual conference in Hyde Park, New York.
  • Roosevelt @ Wayne State is an officially registered chapter on their campus, with around ten student members.
  • Sadiya attended the Western Regional Conference in early February to connect with other Roosevelters in the region and work on her chapter-building and project development efforts.  
  • Deondre, Lou, and Nia will attend the Midwest Regional Conference, happening in Chicago in late February.  
  • Nia was profiled by Mott Community College for her involvement in the fellowship.
  • Sadiya is connecting with Arizona State Representative Athena Salman about providing menstrual hygiene products to incarcerated individuals in the state.
  • Through an alumni connection, Deondre was hired on a successful congressional campaign to do field organizing in Eastepointe, Michigan.


Also published on Medium.

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