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Philanthropy Apprenticeship

The National Leadership Program: Apprenticeship in Philanthropy

RespectAbility is looking for people with disabilities seeking a career in philanthropy for an “earn while you learn” opportunity with our dedicated team. Apprentices will have the opportunity to cultivate practical and leadership skills while simultaneously assisting with the day-to-day operations of the host organization they partner with. This will create further openings for Apprentices to find employment in philanthropy while making positive changes for other people with disabilities and strengthening the philanthropic sector.

Learn How Your Organization can Host an Apprentice

We are passionate about bringing intersectionality into not only our work, but into the philanthropy sector at-large. Many philanthropists do not explicitly include the disability community in their portfolio, even though disability cuts across every demographic – race/ethnicity, sex/gender, sexuality, religion, class and more. Indeed, the disability community is the largest minority group in the country. If a philanthropist supports any underserved population, they already are supporting people with disabilities. However, they may not do so with an understanding of what works, or they might not realize that some of their constituents have disabilities in the first place.

RespectAbility staff members smile together wearing gray polo shirts with the RespectAbility logo on them

RespectAbility Staff

Over a six-month period, participants in the National Leadership Program’s Philanthropy Apprenticeship will work virtually with both RespectAbility and philanthropic organizations. RespectAbility will provide job training, skills development, networking opportunities and assistive technology to facilitate greater synergy. Franklin Anderson, RespectAbility’s Director of Inclusive Philanthropy and Development, will oversee day-to-day management. The program is a cohort model, meaning that groups learn and work together, while accumulating skills, contacts and jobs. Every Apprentice will have access to mentors, including many BIPOC disability leaders.

Apprentices will also attend weekly meetings with our writing coach, Stan Goldman, who has a PhD in English and previously worked as a college professor. Goldman was also a program director for health and disabilities at two major foundations, including The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation in Owings Mills, Maryland. Participants will learn answers to the following questions:

  • What are the pearls and pitfalls of resumes, bios and writing samples?
  • What is a nonprofit? What is a foundation? What types of foundations are there? How do you do due diligence on a foundation and a nonprofit before accepting a job or contributing money?
  • Who is RespectAbility? What do we do? How do we do it? How do you judge a nonprofit’s level of commitment to its programs?
  • How do you evaluate a nonprofit and its programs? What do foundations look for?
  • How do you read a 990?
  • How do you read an audited financial statement?
  • How do you write an LOI?
  • How do you roll out a budget for a project or program? What does a budget look like? What’s the difference between a realistic and an aspirational budget? Can the same program send different budgets to different foundations?
  • How do foundations and philanthropists evaluate a nonprofit’s program budgets?
  • How do you conduct a site visit and what do you look for?
  • What types of jobs and positions are available at a foundation or a nonprofit? What skill sets do you need for such positions?
  • How do you prepare for an interview at a nonprofit or foundation? How do you negotiate your salary if you get an offer?
  • How do you write effective grant proposals?
  • What are the various cultures at nonprofits – direct services versus advocacy? What is expected from new employees? What are the dangers in working at a foundation?
  • What are the ethics of accepting and giving away money? What are the do’s and don’ts of fundraising? How do you ensure a good reputation or bad reputation in grant seeking and grant making?

The National Leadership Program is geared towards directly helping young professionals with disabilities. Most Apprentices are recent college graduates or people with disabilities who lost their jobs during COVID-19 and are looking for new employment opportunities. Non-graduates with significant work experience are also eligible. All Apprentices will be persons with disabilities or with a history of strong allyship in the disability community.

Our program is fully accessible for people with disabilities and offers full-time in-house job coaching, skills development, and networking opportunities. Assistive technology and personal care support are available as needed.

Who We Want

The National Leadership Program is ideal for people who want to gain skills and contacts while making a positive difference for people with disabilities. We are looking for thoughtful and results-driven individuals who want to achieve breakthrough results while getting hands-on experience. The Apprenticeship is for college and graduate students, as well as for people transitioning into the workforce for the first time, or back into the workforce after a break. Apprentices ideally will have an interest in the nonprofit/development sector. Past development experience not necessary.

Apprenticeship Duties

The Apprentices will work closely with our National Leadership Program Director and Director of Inclusive Philanthropy and Development. Individual projects will be assigned based on an individual’s unique skill set and their own ability to “bring something to the table.” Tasks might include grant and proposal writing, prospect research, donor relations and attending donor and prospect meetings. Philanthropy Apprentices will join supervisors at workshops, webinars and events that pertain to philanthropy. Apprentices will learn about all our issue areas and departments as well.

Black and white photos of 15 Spring 2021 RespectAbility FellowsEach Apprentice will receive many opportunities to learn new skills, network and gain direct experiences. In addition to hands-on work experiences, all Apprentices will participate in special presentations by guest speakers and intensive strategic communications workshops. A career plan will be developed by each Apprentice that will enable them to gain appropriate workplace experience while contributing directly and measurably to RespectAbility’s impact. Upon the completion of the program, applicants can expect to come away with excellent experience in the fields of policy, strategic communications and fundraising; fair knowledge of issues for people with disabilities; and leadership skills to help them grow into confident advocates.

Important Details for Applicants

  • Excellent communication and organizational skills are strongly preferred, and Apprentices should exhibit leadership skills to complete their own projects.
  • Strong preference for college seniors and above.
  • Commitment for a minimum of nine weeks.
  • Hours are 9-5. Apprentices are required to work a minimum of 20 hours per week though more is appreciated and more hours per week is preferred.
  • There is no tuition cost to do the Apprenticeship, and Apprentices will be paid $15 an hour.
  • Your cover letter must explain why this Apprenticeship in particular is of interest to you and why you believe you have the skills, focus and independent drive to make a positive difference in your time with us at RespectAbility.


  • A minimum commitment of 20 hours per week.
  • Participation in staff meetings and team meetings.
  • Attendance in weekly speaker series.
  • Work with the National Leadership Program Director on advancing your career goals. This will include strengthening your resume, cover letter and building your professional network.


Fill out the form below and send your resume and cover letter to Ben Spangenberg at to apply for any of our National Leadership Program opportunities!

    RespectAbility provides equal employment opportunities (EEO) to all employees and applicants for employment without regard to race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, age, disability, veteran status or genetics. In addition to federal law requirements, RespectAbility complies with applicable state and local laws governing nondiscrimination in employment. This policy applies to all terms and conditions of employment, including recruiting, hiring, placement, promotion, termination, layoff, recall, transfer, leaves of absence, compensation and training.



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