Emerson National Hunger Fellows Program

Is it for you?

The Bill Emerson National Hunger Fellowship program seeks to create effective leaders who will understand and develop innovative solutions to the problems and root causes of hunger and poverty. For the first half of the eleven-month program, fellows are placed in community-based organizations throughout the country with a local or regional focus. For the remainder of the term, fellows work at nonprofits or government agencies in Washington, D.C., using the practical experience that they gained to develop policy at a national level to fight problems of hunger and poverty. Throughout the fellowship, fellows hone their skills and build a strong cohort through in-person trainings, retreats, and professional development sessions. The Congressional Hunger Center will provide Emerson Fellows with a total financial package from $38,000 to $45,000 (depending on placement location) over the duration of the fellowship.

After the fellowship, Emerson alums are eligible for significant discounts on tuition for masters’ degrees in public health or public policy at select institutions of higher learning (as of 2022, Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College and the University of Virginia’s Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy).

What are the key dates?

The application cycle for 2023-24 has closed. Please check back in fall 2024 for updates on the next cycle. 

Deadline for NFP draft review: TBD for 2024 (normally mid-December)

To submit draft essays for review and access other resources (including sample essays), please email us at nfp@jhu.edu and ask to be added to our Canvas site for Emerson applicants (please include your JHED if you contact us using a non-JHU email address). The Canvas course goes offline between application cycles; it should be available again in fall 2024.

Official deadline: TBD for 2025 (normally early to -mid January)

Are you eligible?

Candidates for the Emerson Fellows Program must have:

  • U.S. citizenship or permanent legal residency.
  • a bachelor’s degree or the equivalent.

Additional selection criteria:

  • Commitment to ending hunger and poverty in the US.
  • Flexibility and ability to adjust to new situations.
  • Commitment to racial equity and social justice.
  • Demonstrated leadership qualities and skills.
  • Creativity and initiative in problem solving.
  • Enthusiasm for learning from experts in the field, and searching for new models in anti-hunger and anti-poverty work.
  • Lived experience with hunger and poverty.
  • Experience working in low-income communities.
  • Excitement about peer learning in a tight-knit community of fellows.

How do you work with the NFP?

JHU nomination is not required for the Emerson, though applicants are encouraged to work with NFP staff, who are available to advise them and read drafts of their essays. Applicants submit their own materials to the Emerson National Hunger Fellows Program.

The timeline gives an overview of the application process and when to reach out to us. In preparation, see “have a closer look” below for more resources about the Emerson.

NovemberContact NFP to learn more
early-mid DecemberSubmit first drafts of résumé and application essays to NFP to receive feedback
December – JanuaryWork on application materials with NFP support
mid-JanuaryMeet the Emerson official deadline

Are you competitive?

About 18-22 fellowships are awarded each year. Selection decisions are based on the following materials:

  • Online Application
  • Résumé: Limited to one page
  • Personal Statement: In one essay, the applicant should answer this series of questions:
    • What values, principles, and identities (race, class, gender, etc.) shape your interest in the Bill Emerson National Hunger Fellowship?
    • What particular qualities, knowledge, experiences, and skills will you contribute to your potential field and policy placements?
    • How do you expect this fellowship to contribute to achieving your professional goals?
  • Two short essays: applicants are asked to answer the two following questions, with each response single-spaced and a half-page in length.
    • How have your community work and life experiences changed your perspective on hunger and poverty over time?
    • What role do you believe government plays, or should play, in addressing complex social problems such as hunger, poverty, and systemic racism?

Have a closer look:

Visit the Official Website

Emerson National Hunger Fellows Program

Hear from JHU Recipients

HUB article about Taz Shah, 2021-22 Emerson Fellow

HUB article about Olivia Chan and Ally Hardebeck, 2020-2021 Emerson Fellows

HUB article about Courtney Colwell, 2018-2019 Emerson Fellow