Tisch College to fund summer campaign fellowships, national convention trips

Barnum Hall is pictured on Feb. 12. Ann Marie Burke / The Tufts Daily

The Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life will provide two special summer fellowship programs to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the college’s founding, funding student work for election-related campaigns in addition to four students’ trips to the Democratic and Republican National Conventions.

Students vying for the campaign funding, called the “Tisch Campaign Fellowships,” will compete for 10 grants of up to $4,000 each, which can be for work on a wide variety of jobs, according to the Tisch College’s website.

The convention trips, called the “DNC and RNC Convention Experience,” offer a fully funded two-week trip for two students to attend each party’s convention.

While Tisch College offered the convention trips once before for the conventions in 2016, this is the first time Tisch College has offered the campaign fellowships, according to Jen McAndrew, director of communications, strategy and planning at Tisch College.

McAndrew highlighted the variety of work that the campaign fellowships could finance, encouraging students to think beyond the still-uncertain presidential race. 

“I think students should think broadly when we talk about campaigns: there are non-partisan voter registration organizations, state parties, and the national party,” McAndrew said. “We want to make it clear that we are supporting all types of campaigns and all political affiliations.” 

The Tisch College website also indicated that it will consider a variety of different types of work for these fellowships, including advocacy campaigns for particular issues and voter registration efforts. 

The primary requirements are that students secure their own position, and that they work at least 30 hours per week for eight to ten weeks, the program’s website says. 

McAndrew recognized that such amounts of unpaid work can cause large financial burdens for student workers, and these fellowships revolved around making this type of work more accessible.

Alan Solomont (A’70), dean of Tisch College, echoed this sentiment, recognizing the merits of campaign work as well as its drawbacks.

“Campaigns and organizing work, though hugely rewarding and valuable, is often unpaid and under-resourced,” Solomont wrote in an email. “We hope that these fellowships will enable more students to pursue meaningful, full-time campaign internships working for a candidate or on an issue of their choice.” 

Sophomore Nic Salem explained that he is applying for a campaign fellowship in his hometown of New York City.

Salem expressed his interest in working for a presidential campaign, discussing his decision-making process about which campaign to apply for.

“A lot depends on which candidate gets more traction,” Salem said. “You ideally want a job that will exist there in the summer, which is not guaranteed for all of the campaigns.”

Salem also expressed concern and uncertainty at the application process, specifically regarding campaigns that may or may not make it through the summer campaign season.

McAndrew cited a few steps that Tisch College has taken to account for that uncertainty, particularly with how the application deadlines were determined.

“We tried to pick a deadline date that was in the middle, so that students could have a little time between now and when the application is due to work this out, but not push it so far out that students have uncertainty if they are going to get the funding,” McAndrew said.

McAndrew explained that planning the campaign fellowship program was a balancing act, encouraging students with concerns to reach out in well in advance of deadlines. She emphasized that Tisch College had some flexibility on their end with respect to helping students navigate the application process.

For the convention trips, Tisch College will select two students to send to each political party’s convention and work with either a media outlet, advocacy group or logistics organization, according to its website.

Tisch College is partnering with the Washington Center, an independent, non-profit organization, to send the four students to the two conventions and provide the additional programming. 

Additionally, students will participate in small group discussions, carry out fieldwork assignments, and possibly conduct interviews,  among other activities, according to Tisch College’s website. Tisch College will cover the full cost of the program, including housing, though students must apply for funding for transportation costs separately.

McAndrew added that the funding for these programs originates from the same fund as other Tisch Fellowships, which was primarily built up over time through philanthropy.

The deadline for applications to the national conventions is March 2, with decisions coming out as soon as March 10, according to the Tisch College website. Applications for the campaign fellowships will be due on March 30, and applicants must be able to provide proof of a job offer along with their application.