Dwight Hall Summer Fellows is launching the 2024 application cycle with an exciting update to its programming model. The program will now offer full and partial funding for summer projects focused on social change, with the aim of meeting more students where they are and increasing the number of funding opportunities.
Dwight Hall Summer Fellows was created in the summer of 1968 with a singular challenge: establish the environment for students to create social change through full-time, paid engagement in coordination with New Haven community partners and organizations. Since then, students have utilized the resources and infrastructure of the program to form lasting relationships with communities in New Haven and nationwide, helping tackle challenges such as homelessness, mental health, criminal justice, and the climate crisis.
In recent years, Summer Fellows have supported New Haven-based organizations like HAVEN Free Clinic, Elena’s Light, and Neighborhood Housing Services. The Summer Fellows program has also funded student placements in cities nationwide, including New York City, San Francisco, Washington, DC, and Los Angeles.
Applicants typically propose eight weeks of work on a research proposal, project, or internship, and submit a common application which includes a letter of support from the community partner with which they intend to work.
After submission, student applications are evaluated and matched to funding sources. Funding partners include: the Yale Club of New Haven, which has supported the program for decades; Yale Alumni Nonprofit Alliance, which since 2017 has supported students working domestically who are eligible for financial aid but no longer eligible for Yale’s Summer Experience Award; and the Dr. Peter R. Muehrer ’82 Fund, which since 2018 has funded students working within the field of community mental health. Additional funding is provided by alumni and by Dwight Hall.
In 2024, Dwight Hall is excited to pilot a new application cycle that is organized around two deadlines: a February 29th deadline for applications for full summer funding and a May 15th deadline for applications for partial funding.
Mark Fopeano, Dwight Hall’s Director of Programming and Evaluation, explained the logic behind this change: “A piece of feedback the Hall routinely received from students was that there were different levels and types of need associated with students’ summer fellowship plans. I wanted to create a structure where we can support students wherever they are. Having fully funded fellowships is really important, and that goes all the way back to our roots in 1968, where the incentive was to make sure that people were building and maintaining relationships with New Haven organizations. . . At the same time, there are a lot of students who would benefit from being involved in Dwight Hall in ways other than a fully funded structure, particularly those who have received funding from other sources but still do not have their budget fully covered due to high financial need.”
Thus, the 2024 application process preserves the classic full-funding structure of Summer Fellows while opening up partial funding to a greater number of students. Priority for full funding applications will be granted to full-time projects based in New Haven or in students’ hometowns, where students are more likely to have formed relationships with local organizations. Students that receive financial aid but are no longer eligible for the Yale’s Summer Experience Award (typically graduating seniors) also receive preference for full funding as they have fewer funding options.
Comparatively, priority for partial funding will be granted to students who have received funding elsewhere but need additional resources. This funding type will likely be popular for students working in metropolitan cities where the cost of living is high. Additionally, preference for partial funding will be given to applicants who are working part-time on a summer service project in addition to other work they have committed to. Dwight Hall will work in tandem with partners like Yale’s Office of Fellowships to ensure partial funding of up to $1,500 for each student.
Besides receiving financial support and access to a cohort of Summer Fellows, participating students will also be invited to engage in alumni mentorship and career development programming during the summer. These events will focus on exposing Fellows to pathways to public service and social justice careers.
Ultimately, student applications stand out when it is evident “they are really passionate about the work they are doing,” emphasized Mark. “It’s really a joy to watch a student develop an idea that they are passionate about over the course of the summer because they don’t ever get tired of the work. They know exactly how to move things forward. . . and take advantage of the networking and development opportunities that are part of that journey.”
The Summer Fellows program advances the Grow pillar of Dwight Hall’s program delivery model by developing students’ intellectual, moral, civic, and creative capacities to the fullest with experiential learning and fellowships.