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.
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
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
- 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.
Past Fellow Testimonials
- Chloe Rice, West Coast Field Organizer, Class of 2013
- Jon Berger, Mid-Atlantic Field Organizer, Class of 2012
The First Application Deadline is Sunday, March 9th.
The Second Application Deadline is Sunday, March 23rd.