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Civic Engagement

Rochester Urban Fellows

Rochester Urban Fellows is a 10-week summer program that engages local undergraduates in ~300-hour fellowships with community organizations, faculty- and community-led urban issue dialogues, and community events.

The program fosters the College’s eight competencies—adaptability and resiliency; career design and management; critical thinking and problem solving; intercultural and global fluency; leadership; communication; and teamwork—while cultivating a greater understanding and appreciation of our Rochester home.

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 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 symposium. Student work is also celebrated during a Closing Ceremony, often at City Hall. All community and college stakeholders are invited for this celebration. 

COVID-19 Updates

We are still determining whether the 2021 program will be conducted fully virtually, fully in-person, or in a hybrid format. Decisions are made based on New York State and CDC guidelines, as well as University policy. Updates will be provided to applicants as decisions are made.

Serve as an Urban Fellow

You can access the 2021 program application hereUrban Fellows applications are due Friday, February 19, 2021.

Benefits for Fellows include:

  • Moderate living allowance 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 OR Level Three of Medallion.
  • Students pursuing the Certificate in Community-Engaged Learning may use their Urban Fellows experience towards their capstone project. To do so, students must still submit a capstone proposal and have it approved.

Host an Urban Fellow

Community agencies can access the 2021 project proposal application here. Project proposals are due Monday, March 1, 2021.

Project and agency requirements:

  • Anti-poverty focus
    • Priorities include combatting summer learning loss, summer hunger, the opioid epidemic, and COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Work substantial enough for ~300 hours of service across 10 weeks
  • Capacity for effective supervision
  • 501(c)3 not-for-profit, government agency, or school status

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.