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Frank Karel Fellowships in Public Interest Communications

The Frank Karel Fellowship Program in Public Interest Communications places high-potential undergraduate students in leading nonprofit organizations that vigorously promote the public interest for a hands-on, experiential summer fellowship.

The Karel Fellowship honors and advances the legacy of Frank Karel, who established, led and nurtured the field of strategic communications during his 30 years as chief communications officer for the Robert Wood Johnson and Rockefeller Foundations.  Among Karel’s strong beliefs was that racial and ethnic minorities were underrepresented in the public interest communications field and that foundations and public interest organizations needed to be proactive in recruiting and nurturing broader participation and leadership in public interest communications and advocacy.frank

frank is a new national conference of public interest communicators from across the social change spectrum – education, health, human rights, environmental protection, civil rights, and others. This gathering offers the opportunity to hear from the second class of Karel Fellows, college students who spent the summer of 2013 working with Washington, DC, nonprofits to drive social change and who are committed to diversifying this field.

The conference will take place at the University of Florida in February 2014. Click here to learn how to register.



Meet our 2014 Class of Karel Fellows

Meet our 2013 Class of Karel Fellows

Meet the 2012 Class of Karel Fellows

All six of the inaugural Fellows reported over a 20% improvement in the following areas:
  • Knowledge of best practice strategies of public interest communications campaigns
  • Connections to a network of young people interested in public interest communications
  • Connections to a network of public interest communications professionals
  • Dedication to bringing attention to the need for growth and diversity of the field of public interest communications
All Fellows showed some improvement in skills, knowledge of, or dedication to:
  • Advocacy
  • Overall knowledge of public interest communications
  • Career opportunities in the field of public interest communications
  • Public interest communications
  • Self-motivation to further develop their public interest communications skills

All Fellows reported that the fellowship has impacted their future career trajectories. One Fellow was planning to enroll in law school before the fellowship. After the fellowship, he is applying to a masters in communication program. The other Fellows reported that they plan to incorporate elements of public interest communications and social justice work into their careers.

Who is eligible?
Undergraduate Communications, Journalism, Political Science, Public Policy, or Social Policy majors or any student who is considering a career in public interest communications.  Women and minorities are encouraged to apply. Priority will be focused on first generation rising junior and senior college students.

How do I apply?
Students from select Colleges/Universities will be nominated by a faculty sponsor for this program. If you have questions about applying, please contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it z.  

Post-Fellowship Expectations
All Fellows are required to attend a symposium at the University of Florida in February 2014.  Mentors and faculty sponsors will be invited as well.  All travel, lodging and food expenses for the Fellows will be covered. Fellows and mentors may also be invited to participate in similar events.

Stipend, Flights and Housing
Each Fellow will receive a total stipend of $4,000 to cover housing, travel expenses and living expenses during the fellowship.

DC offers a variety of housing options for Fellows. Click here for a list of options.


Support for the Fellowships comes from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Kellogg Foundation, Burness Communications, Spitfire Strategies, Fenton, Brodeur Partners, the Viola Fund, and Betsy Karel.

Contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it z for more information.