Open Society Youth Fellowship Program 2015-2016

Posted: Tue Apr, 2015


The Youth Fellowship Program (Youth Fellows) supports young activists and organizers as thought-leaders and allies in crafting solutions and new youth-focused approaches to open society challenges. The fellowship funds work that supports and enriches understanding of youth-led methodologies for change and inspires conversations within the Open Society Foundation and in the world.

Prospective fellows could be a youth activist tackling a critical open society issue in their respective region, or might be given for projects that are dedicated to creating tools or content-rich material (toolkits, studies, etc.) that more broadly supports youth work.
Fellowship applications should relate to at least one of the following areas of work:

  • Youth mobilization and innovation in traditional human rights movements (i.e. the LGBTQ rights movement, disability rights, women's rights, drug policy reform, etc.)
  • Youth participation and civic engagement particularly around elections
  • Youth-led movements
  • Youth-led work in the field of justice (for example, policing, pre-trial detention, incarcerated youth, or alternative sentencing)
  • Youth tactics in advocacy and awareness-raising (for example new media, arts activism, peer-to-peer networks, etc.) around human rights issues
  • Youth in closed or transitional societies

Fellows should take advantage of the considerable intellectual and logistical resources of the Open Society Foundations and expect to contribute meaningfully to the Foundations' thinking in return.  While Youth Fellows will work outside of Open Society Foundations core offices, they will liaise with the Youth Exchange to identify opportunities for both in-person and virtual engagement with Open Society Foundations staff and partners. The Youth Exchange will work with each individual Fellow to identify additional opportunities for the Fellow to learn from and collaborate with Open Society Foundations staff and partners through site visits, speaking engagements, and other fora.
Fellows may produce a variety of work products including publications such as reports or blogs, infographics and other visual content, innovative education and training resources and tools, the launch of new campaigns or organizations, or creation of artistic or cultural expression projects.  They may also engage in activities such as hosting panel discussions, traveling to conferences, and presenting on their work in other public spaces.

  • All applicants should be under the age of 30.
  • While we will consider applicants who are currently employed by a civil society organization or university, we will request additional information to confirm that the individual is acting on their own in regards to their proposed project, and that their current employer is flexible with their independent role as an OSF Youth Fellow.
  • Applicants should possess a deep understanding of their particular field and a record of successful movement-building initiatives, innovative project management experience, and/or experience in research/tools development.
  • Applicants must be proficient in spoken English.


  • Only individuals may apply.  We will not accept proposals that are clearly on behalf of an NGO or other formal organization.
  • Fellows may not use stipends to replace funding for activities or projects that a host organization is already implementing
  • Enrolment for degree or non-degree study at academic institutions, including dissertation research
  • Please note that under federal tax rules applicable to U.S. private foundations, the Open Society Foundations cannot support lobbying activities. Projects that include lobbying activities will not be funded.


  • Fellows will receive a stipend of $35,000-50,000 depending on experience and current income.

Applications will be reviewed by a selection committee comprised of Open Society Foundations staff. Reviewers consider whether the applicant's background, track record, and depth of expertise give reason to believe that the project will be successfully completed and whether the applicant offers persuasive evidence that the fellowship project will significantly inform the public and the Open Society community.

  • Applications must be submitted by May 15, 2015
  • Applications will be reviewed in May/June 2015
  • Applicants will be notified of their status in late June 2015
  • Short-listed applicants will be invited for an in-person, Skype, or telephone interview by July 1, 2015

All interested applicants should complete the online application form listed on the fellowship homepage and submit supporting materials for consideration.
Applicants may submit a project proposal or other materials in a language other than English, as long as they also submit an English translation. Certified translations are strongly recommended.
Once the initial information has been entered, applicants receive login details and an ID number that allows them to make additions and revisions to the form until materials are submitted. The ID number should be quoted in any correspondence.
The program strongly encourages applicants to submit only electronic supporting materials. However, if applicants have hard copy materials that they feel are essential to the evaluation of their project, they can list these at the end of the project proposal. Fellowship staff will reach out to applicants should it be necessary to review these materials.
Note: Only applicants without Internet access may send an application by post. A PDF application form can be downloaded below. All others must apply online.
For more information or technical difficulties with this online application form, please contact the Youth Exchange at