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Fellowship Program

Overview | Fellowship Project | Curriculum  | Year-long Schedule | Program Structure & Support | StipendWho We're Looking For | Qualifications | Past Fellow Testimonies | 2014-2015 Application


**We are currently accepting applications for the 2014-2015 Fellowship. The First Application Deadline is Sunday, March 9th. The Second Application Deadline is Sunday, March 23rd.**


The Real Food Challenge (RFC) Fellowship Program is a unique opportunity for recent college graduates to gain first-hand experience in building a social movement.  Through this 14-month program, Fellows engage in intensive projects on a regional or national level while also honing their leadership skills and food systems knowledgethrough our participatory learning curriculum and engaged Fellowship community.

Fellows come away with direct campaign and organizational experience, new professional and movement networks and a toolbox of relevant movement-building and organizational skills.  At the same time, they support important student-led efforts to shift millions of university dollars away from industrial agriculture and toward just, sustainable food enterprises.

Fellowship Project

Over the years the Fellowship has continued to evolve based on reflection and needs of the organization. This year’s Fellows will focus on projects relating to the Real Food Movement. These may include:

  • Providing direct coaching, training and on-the-ground support to a small group of campuses where real food campaigns are in progress,
  • Helping to develop the Real Food Calculator and providing support to students involved with campus food assessments,
  • Planning events for regional and national gatherings and fundraising events,
  • Developing & executing national social media & communications strategies.


Through these projects Fellows will be given a level of exposure and responsibility usually reserved for experienced professional organizers and movement leaders.   Fellows will be expected to take a great deal of initiative, problem-solve on the fly and work in a diverse, and often geographically distributed team.

What does it look like?Phone calls and/or video-chats with teams multiple times a week to collaborate on focus projects.  Team meetings with other Fellows and staff to strategize and prioritize work.  Once- or twice-a-year road trips to visit target schools, present workshops, and meet with key players.  And, plenty more!


As part of the Fellowship, the Real Food Challenge is committed to Fellows’ growth and development as leaders in the food movement.  Our curriculum is explicitly action-oriented and participatory in approach.  This means that each Fellow’s project is seen as the core “textbook” for their learning.  Other curricular pieces are meant to intersect with and enhance that learning-by-doing experience.  These supplemental learning opportunities include:


  • Intensive in-person, experiential workshops and trainings,
  • Regular distance learning sessions, including webinars and online discussions,
  • Reading & writing assignments,
  • “Just-in-time” mini-trainings focusing on necessary and timely skill sets,
  • Periodic self-assessment, peer-evaluation and reflection exercises,
  • Intensive coaching from a coordinator.


Learning modules are broken, roughly, into two categories: 1) Organizing and Leadership and, 2) Food Systems.  Topics covered include the following (subject to year-to-year variation):

Leadership and Organizing

Food Systems

  • Storytelling & Public Narrative
  • 1-to-1s / Relational Meetings
  • Social Media & Communications
  • Grassroots Fundraising
  • Campaign Planning
  • Facilitation and Popular Education
  • Leadership Development
  • Coaching & Agitation
  • The Corporate Food Service Industry
  • Farm-to-Institution Basics
  • Distribution and Supply Chains
  • Food & Labor Intersections
  • Fair Trade & Direct Trade
  • History of Food Movements

Year-long Schedule

The Fellowship runs from July 2014 - August 2015, a total of 14 months.  While each Fellow’s experience will be unique, an average year includes these major milestones:

  • July: National Training—Fellows join RFC staff for a comprehensive 5-day orientation and training,
  • August/September: Road Trips--Fellows travel throughout their region to do intensive campus visits,
  • October: Food Day—Fellows recruit and support student coordinators as they plan for this national day of action,
  • December: Winter Appeal—Fellows learn about grassroots fundraising through our holiday appeal drive,
  • January/February: Regional Strategy Retreats—Fellows work with veteran RFC organizers and alumni to lead a 3-day leadership institute for local students,
  • April: National Retreat—Fellows engage in the reflection and annual planning process with RFC leadership,
  • Ongoing: Campus Visits--Fellows coordinate and participate in road trips to campuses throughout their region.

Program Structure & Support

Fellows work in teams of two or more, and are supervised by a staff member.  Regional teams have at least once-weekly check-in meetings.  All fellows gather for monthly discussions, in addition to periodic online distance learning modules.  Two times each year, fellows engage in structured peer feedback sessions called “Real Talk.”  Fellows also engage in a Quarterly Review process, focused both on campaign outcomes and Fellows’ personal development goals. 


In addition to the skills and experience offered, fellows are provided a $2,000 stipend in installments of $1,000 paid two times during the year.  Fellows are also reimbursed for all pre-approved Fellowship-related expenses and travel.

Fellows have the opportunity to participate in an interdisciplinary, distance-based graduate program through Green Mountain College, which is a respected leader in environmental education and sustainable food systems. See more information here.

Who We're Looking For

Real Food Challenge seeks a special type of young leader who is ready to make a big impact on the world.  Our Fellows generally exhibit the following qualities:
  • Self-motivated– Fellows work independently and remotely without constant prods or reminders.  They take initiative to address problems as they arise and share new ideas and learnings along the way.
  • Passionate– Fellows understand the urgent need for change in our food system and are able to motivate those around them.
  • Relational– Fellows have strong people skills, are good at relationship building and have a good sense of humor.
  • Strategic – Fellows have the ability to identify and prioritize goals and to think systematically about how to accomplish them.
  • Self-aware– Fellows are committed to their own learning and able to reflect on and learn from their experiences.


This fellowship is intended for people with prior experience in student activism, food justice and/or other movement work, who want to take their learning to the next level.  Fellows are usually recent college graduates, but others are welcome to apply. Fellows should be ready to set aside 15 hours each week for Real Food Challenge learning and projects.

  • Ability to devote 15 hours each week to Real Food Challenge activities,
  • Ability to attend Summer Orientation in July (dates TBD),
  • Ability to attend 3-4 additional multi-day events throughout the year (campus visits, strategy retreats),
  • Experience with student activism and/or student-run groups is preferred,
  • Commitment to economic justice, anti-racism, student power and social movements is required,
  • Experience with group facilitation, teaching, public speaking, and networking is preferred,
  • Familiarity with online communication (Google Drive, Google Hangouts/Skype, webinars, Dropbox) and social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) is encouraged,
  • Experience with university food systems, food service work, community-based farms, fair trade cooperatives, regional food distribution and/or other real food issues is a plus.
>> We strongly encourage people of color; queer, trans, and gender variant folk; and working class activists to apply!

Past Fellow Testimonials


After participating in the RFC for a few years as a student, becoming an Regional Field Organizer seemed like a great next step to learn more skills and get involved in region-wide efforts.  Gaining more than just skills, the fellowship program has given me a framework for understanding how to address large-scale, systemic problems by allowing me to be involved in organizing at a lot of different levels.  I have not only been able to make a difference with the students and schools that I directly work with, but I also feel that now I am able to be a force of change beyond the fellowship program in any of my other work for the rest of my life.
- Lindsay Guthrie, Midwest Field Organizer, Class of 2014
This fellowship is an opportunity to move beyond an academic understanding of food systems issues, immerse yourself in the food justice movement, and dive into solutions-based action. RFC is an all-around incubator of leadership—the role of an RFO as mentor and mentee was challenging and rewarding. The relationships I’ve built with the other organizers, students and stakeholders, and the real world experience in community organizing and campaign planning are truly invaluable. I came away with a deeper sense of self, of community, and of purpose.  
      - Chloe Rice, West Coast Field Organizer, Class of 2013
The Real Food Challenge is an incredibly dedicated, nurturing, and inspirational group of people, and I've learned so much in my time as a Regional Field Organizer.  This work is really important and challenging, and I would highly recommend it for an aspiring organizer who wants to sink their teeth into a strategic, relationship-based, national campaign for food justice.
       - Jon Berger, Mid-Atlantic Field Organizer, Class of 2012

2014-2015 Application

The First Application Deadline is Sunday, March 9th.

The Second Application Deadline is Sunday, March 23rd.