Our Work

The Institute for Citizens & Scholars has played a significant role in higher education. Since its founding in 1945, the organization that has grown into Citizens & Scholars has come to represent a network of excellence.

From generations of college professors to thousands of K–12 teachers, to policymakers and public servants, we’ve prepared, engaged, and enriched leaders at all levels. Since the late 1950s we’ve also worked to create new pathways for women and people of color.

Over the years more than 27,000 Fellows have contributed to creating a better educated, more thoughtful, and more inclusive America. They continue that work today as Fellows of Citizens & Scholars’ various programs.

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Networking civic leaders

Networking Civic Leaders

We focus on building bridges and connections across gaps between sectors and across the political spectrum. The Brewer Fellowship to Unite America brings together leaders for a series of professional and capacity-building opportunities. The Higher Education Policy Fellowship creates space for policymakers to collaborate directly with college and university leaders. We are also testing a new program to rebuild a trusting and flourishing civil society through local work that connects communities across the nation.

Building a Civic Learning Ecosystem

Building a Civic Learning ecosystem

To address national divisions and political dysfunction, we need to develop citizens differently—to reimagine and rebuild a field of civic learning. This field must encompass learning both in school and in our communities, religious institutions, homes and online. It must help young people ages 0–24 not only acquire civic knowledge but also develop the skills, capacities, and dispositions of citizens. And it must connect with social-and-emotional learning, service learning/national service, workforce development, character education, social studies and action civics.

Empowering Youth

Empowering Youth

The newest focus of Citizens & Scholars is on developing young people to be better citizens. The Civic Spring Project funded six youth-led civic engagement and learning initiatives. From Civic Spring, we hope to better understand the ways in which young people create and improve on civic activity in their communities—particularly when they are valued as experts based on their lived experiences and their deep understanding of the places in which they live.

Pipeline to the Professoriate

Pipeline to the professoriate

The Woodrow Wilson Fellowships (1945-1971) began by recruiting returning World War II veterans into college teaching. They were followed by programs that developed opportunities in higher education by supporting both new fields and new populations. Programs today support promising scholars at critical junctures, offering fellowships for dissertation completion, research sabbaticals, and early-career professional development.

Building Gender Studies

Building Gender Studies

Since 1974, the WW Dissertation Fellowship in Women’s Studies has been the only national program supporting original, significant, interdisciplinary doctoral dissertations on issues related to women’s and gender issues. Over the past half-century, this Fellowship has supported generations of scholars across the humanities and social sciences who study gender, contributing to the creation of a new field and new areas of traditional fields.

Pathways to Public Service

Pathways to Public Service

In the early 1990s, the Public Policy and International Affairs Fellowships offered new academic opportunities, seeking to diversify these fields and engage first-generation and minority college students who might otherwise not have considered public service careers. The Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship Program, administered for 27 years by the WW Foundation, provided financial support, mentoring, and professional development to undergraduate and graduate students preparing for careers in the U.S. Department of State Foreign Service.

Careers in Schools

Careers in Schools

Two programs—the WW Teaching Fellowship and the WW MBA in Education Leadership—focus on getting highly qualified individuals into the classroom and leadership positions. Another program, the WW-Rockefeller Brothers Fund Fellowships for Aspiring Teachers of Color, also sought to recruit, support, and retain individuals of color as K–12 public school teachers. All three programs have focused on master’s-level preparation for excellent educators, prepared to ensure student success.

Diversity in the Academy

Diversity in the Academy

In the early 1970s, the MLK Fellowships offered two years of support for 250 Black veterans pursuing graduate and professional degrees in preparation for careers in the service of society. Today, programs like the Career Enhancement Fellowship (CEF) and the Mellon Emerging Faculty Leaders Award (MEFL) support scholars committed to eradicating disparities in their fields. CEF offers grants and mentoring for junior faculty, while MEFL provides research assistance for tenure-track faculty. Many of these Fellows go on to hold positions in leadership and administration.

Convening Diverse Perspectives

Convening Diverse Perspectives

Many current programs and initiatives bring together Fellows as a network. The Brewer Fellowship to Unite America convenes leaders from across the democracy reform space for capacity and network building. The Higher Education Policy Fellowship gathers higher education leaders and state-level policymakers to work on state specific initiatives. The Career Enhancement Fellowship emphasizes a strong network of support for faculty from underrepresented groups. We also leverage our connections to partner organizations and supporters so that we can better tackle the critical needs of our times.

Time and space for scholarship

Time and space for scholarship

The Charlotte W. Newcombe Fellowship is the nation’s largest, most prestigious award for Ph.D. candidates in the humanities and social sciences who are addressing questions of ethical and religious values. Administered since 1981, the Newcombe Fellowship has supported nearly 1,300 Fellows, most of them now noted faculty. Other dissertation-level awards, including the WW Women’s Studies program and the MMUF Travel/Research and Dissertation Awards, also help emerging scholars do their work at a moment when funding, time, and visibility are essential.

Testing Innovative Concepts

Testing Innovative Concepts

Citizens & Scholars is testing and growing new ideas for developing citizens, networking leaders, and making education more diverse and more responsive to national needs. We have strong connections across multiple fields including civic education, community rebuilding, national service, education reform, social studies, higher education, and more. We have approaches to screen and test ideas.  And we have identified talent to hire once concepts have been tested and are ready for growth. The goal of all these efforts: To realize a resilient, trust-based constitutional democracy that functions effectively.

Building Momentum

Building Momentum

By supporting Fellows with great professional and scholarly promise, and by gathering and connecting organizations and leaders who have their own networks, we are building momentum together to shape the future.

Our Continuing Journey

Citizens & Scholars continues to support Fellows through individual programs while tapping the power of our network to meet the urgent needs of today. Our work is focused in three areas, each playing a significant role in rebuilding a flourishing society.

Supporting young people to be better citizens
  • The Civic Spring Project made six grants to youth-led civic engagement and learning initiatives across five states.
  • The Civic Learning funders workshop brought together 40 funders from across the ideological spectrum to set best practices for the entire field.
  • A white paper authored by Citizens & Scholars President Rajiv Vinnakota outlines how the work of funders, policymakers, educators, researchers, and nonprofit organizations intersects with the current system of civic education.
Preparing a diverse and responsive next generation of college faculty and educators
  • A suite of junior faculty programs at Citizens & Scholars has supported tenure progress for more than 300 faculty from underrepresented groups.
  • Through dissertation grants, Citizens & Scholars has helped build the field of women’s and gender studies, as well as establish several generations of scholars working on ethics and religion across the humanities and social sciences
  • The WW Teaching Fellowship has prepared nearly 1,300 teachers in six states
Networking civic leaders to ensure a resilient democracy
  • The new Brewer Fellowship to Unite America has brought together 17 cross-partisan leaders for personal and professional development, field-building, and capacity-building workshops.
  • The Higher Education Policy Fellowship has stewarded joint projects between government and higher education leaders in 12 states.
  • Past initiatives like the Public Policy and International Affairs Program have placed hundreds of leaders of color in positions of influence in the public sector.