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Civic Engagement

Rochester Urban Fellows

Rochester Urban Fellows is a 10-week summer program for local undergraduates who attend a Rochester-area college or are native to Rochester and attend college elsewhere. Participants have opportunities to develop personal and professional skills, increase their understanding of urban issues and poverty, and develop emotional ties to Rochester.

Seeking Remote Community-based Summer Projects: Deadline extended to April 27 

Since 2002, the Rochester Urban Fellows program has immersed undergraduate students in the Rochester community in ways that have moved organization missions forward and contributed in transformational ways to the education of our students. 

Due to COVID-19, we will not be able to conduct the Urban Fellows program in-person. However, we are still passionate about supporting our community through this challenge with the resources we have. Some of the projects that we are partnering with this summer will be able to adapt to a remote format; however, others will not, and so we are seeking additional projects that meet the following guidelines: 

Organization Requirements: 

  • 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization or public agency (e.g. municipal office or school district). 
  • Capacity to supervise a student using remote technology (students can use UR’s Zoom license) -- consider time (1 hr/week+) and equipment

 Project Requirements

  • Anti-poverty focus
    • Priority areas include education (combating summer learning loss) and healthy futures (providing summer food, combating opioid epidemic, combating COVID-19 pandemic
    • Can also focus on economic opportunity (employment, housing)
  • Full-time remote work
  • Substantial enough for 30 hours/week for 10 weeks (~300 hours of service)

Host organizations are asked to contribute a cost-share payment to help defray administrative and programmatic costs. Note that we’ve decided to delay the start of the projects by two weeks until early June and have the program run for eight weeks through early August. Accordingly, we have reduced the cost-share fee for host-sites to $600 per student; in the interest of generating as many projects as possible; we will entertain requests for waivers of the cost-share.

Community organizations interested in hosting an Urban Fellow should contact Abbie Deacon, Associate Director for Civic Engagement at the Center for Community Engagement, by Monday, April 27.

Summer Fellowships

Students serve with local community organizations for approximately 30 hours per week to create, expand, or support a number of different initiatives. Previous projects include:

  • Designing and leading culturally relevant curricula in summer education programs
  • Engaging youth in a community teaching garden
  • Repurposing public space to improve community safety
  • Developing a sustainable diabetes group visit program
  • Creating a business plan for neighborhood commercial development
  • Coordinating services for runaway and homeless teens

Students are placed, to the best of our ability, with organizations or initiatives that best align with their interests, goals, and experience.

Urban Issues Seminars

Students attend weekly seminars led by faculty members and community leaders. The seminars are designed to inform fellows about the history, politics, demographics, and sociology of urban systems, with particular attention to Rochester. 

Morning discussions are complemented by community-engaged learning opportunities in the afternoon, which have included off-site visits and tours, service activities, and community panels.

See the Urban Fellows Sample Syllabus (PDF) for more information.

Community- or Cultural-Based Activities

Students are encouraged to participate in various cultural and community events, including festivals, neighborhood association meetings, and more. Many of these require weekend and evening participation. Some events will be mandatory.

End-of-Summer Symposium

All students develop a presentation based on their readings and summer experiences, and present this work at a closing ceremony at City Hall. All community and college stakeholders are invited for this celebration. 

Program Benefits

Benefits for fellows include:

  • Moderate living allowance stipend approximately $2,300, paid biweekly
  • Free housing at the University of Rochester
  • An end-of-service education award OR cash stipend
  • Numerous networking opportunities
  • Ongoing support and guidance from a large network of peers, AmeriCorps members, alumni, and program staff
  • Participation in the Urban Fellow program satisfies the requirements for Level One of Medallion. Students pursuing the Certificate in Community-Engaged Learning may use their Urban Fellows experience towards their capstone project.

Serve as an Urban Fellow

You can access the summer 2020 program application hereUrban Fellows applications are due Friday, February 21.

Frequently Asked Questions

Please click here to view a FAQ document.


If you have any questions about the program, please contact Abbie Deacon, Associate Director for Civic Engagement at the Rochester Center for Community Leadership.