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Summer 2017 Fellows standing or seated in wheelchairs, smiling and posing for the camera

Public Policy and Civic Engagement Fellowship

The National Leadership Program: Fellowship in Public Policy and Civic Engagement


National Leadership Program participants standing in front of the White House

Our nation was founded on the principle that anyone who works hard should be able to get ahead in life. People with disabilities deserve the opportunity to earn an income and achieve independence, just like anyone else. For decades, people with disabilities working together have advanced major legislation to improve their lives. The Americans with Disabilities Act is a key example of how different groups came together to enact change through civic engagement and coalition building to change or enact legislation. The disability rights movement led to the ADA, but there are still regulations in place that prevent the full integration of people with disabilities in society and only one-in-three working-age Americans with disabilities is employed.

Public Policy and Civic Engagement Fellows are ambassadors for the policy work of RespectAbility and will support the broad work of RespectAbility’s Policy and Civic Engagement Department. Assigned project will help to advance our nation-wide policy agenda, educate candidates for public office about disability issues, and support existing state-based coalition building strategies. Fellows will work substantively to contribute to RespectAbility’s work by developing resources, researching new materials and publishing reports.

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 Fellowship is for college and graduate students (with an interest in pursuing a career in government or public policy) as well as for people transitioning into the workforce for the first time, or back into the workforce after a break.

Fellowship Duties

The Apprentices will work closely with the Policy Team and the National Leadership Program Senior Manager. Individual projects will be assigned based on an individual’s unique skill set and their own ability to “bring something to the table.”

Projects will include researching federal or state legislation, leading outreach effort to connect with candidates running for public office, writing press releases about emerging issues in a nonpartisan way, submitting public testimony to state agencies, expanding databases of state/local contacts, and other work as assigned.

Upon the completion of the Fellowship program, applicants can expect to come away with experience in the field of public policy, professional networking connections, and leadership skills to help them grow into confident advocates.

Each Fellow will receive many opportunities to learn new skills, network, and gain direct experiences. In addition to hands-on work experiences, all Fellows will participate in special presentations by guest speakers. Each Fellow will develop their own career plan and will work to advance the necessary skills to begin turning that plan into a reality.

Important Details for Applicants

  • Excellent communication and organizational skills are strongly preferred, and Fellows should exhibit leadership skills to complete their own projects.
  • Strong preference for college seniors and above.
  • The Fellowship program lasts five and a half months.
  • Core hours include between 11 AM-5:30 PM ET.
  • Fellows are required to work 20 hours per week.
  • Fellows will receive $17/hr.
  • Your cover letter must explain why this Fellowship 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 commitment of 20 hours per week.
  • Participation in staff meetings and team meetings.
  • Attendance in weekly speaker series.
  • Work with the National Leadership Program Senior Manager on advancing your career goals. This will include strengthening your resume, cover letter and building your professional network.

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.

All Fellowship Opportunities

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