St. Louis Urban Fellows Program

In its ongoing effort to strengthen the St. Louis region, Washington University offers the Urban Fellows Program, a ten month fellowship that places recent graduates within departments of local government.

The St. Louis Urban Fellows Program is a signature initiative of the Gephardt Institute for Civic and Community Engagement that enables recent college graduates to contribute to civic efforts in the region while honing their understanding of urban issues and their professional skills. The fellowship experience is a unique opportunity to learn about local government and public policy through hands-on work with St. Louis City, mentorship, and access to a network of regional civic leaders.

The inaugural Urban Fellow is assigned to assist Patrick Brown, Chief Resilience Officer for the City of St. Louis, in developing a resiliency strategy. St. Louis has been chosen to participate in the 100 Resilient Cities Challenge, an initiative funded by the Rockefeller Foundation to help cities better respond to economic downturns, natural disasters, and other setbacks.

“Every day is different in city government and our fellows will have experiences and opportunities in a number of areas,” said Brown. “We want to hear their ideas and perspectives. If we, as a city, are to grow and find solutions, we need smart, young people at the table.”

The Urban Fellows Program is a partnership of Washington University, the City of St. Louis, and Arch Grants. The program received seed funding from the Equifax Foundation, which is committed to improving education, infrastructure, and the arts in the St. Louis Region. Thomas Irwin, executive director of Civic Progress, is serving as both mentor and trainer to fellows.

“Urban Fellows has been a tremendous opportunity for me, both personally and professionally,” said 2016-2017 Urban Fellow Michael Epsten. “I’ve been able to give something back to a city that has given me so much, while at the same time building the public policy skills that I know I want to use for the rest of my life. Work in city government can be slow, difficult, and frustrating, but also provides the ability for someone fresh out of college to have an actual impact on politics and policy. I’ve written speeches for the Mayor, worked closely with business leaders, and helped craft resilience policy in St. Louis all before I’ve reached my 24th birthday. I don’t know of any other way I would have had this much practice and exposure at this point in my life. Furthermore, local government allows you to interact with the people you’re trying to help. They aren’t constituents thousands of miles away, but friends and neighbors.” 

The Urban Fellows Program is open to all Washington University students (undergraduate, graduate/professional) who have filed an intent to graduate in May 2017. Fellows receive full-time salary and full benefits. There will be 2-3 fellows selected for the 2017-2018 program.

The application for the program can be found here.

Key dates for the 2017 program are:

Information sessions about the program:

  • Wednesday, March 29, noon-1 p.m., Danforth University Center 248
  • Thursday, March 30, 3-4 p.m., Danforth University Center 233
  • Friday, March 31, 3-4 p.m., Danforth University Center 233

Application due date: Monday, April 17, 5 p.m. CST

  • Applications must be received in the Gephardt Institute Office, Danforth University Center, Room 150

Announcement of candidates: May 12 

Please contact LuAnn Oros, Coordinator of Civic Engagement Programs at if you have any questions, comments, or concerns.