Named for the “mother of African-American journalism,” the program — launched in partnership with Nikole Hannah-Jones, Howard University’s Knight chair in race and journalism — provides recent graduates, mid-career alums and former students of Historically Black Colleges and Universities with full-year salaried and benefit-laden fellowships in the areas of reporting, audience engagement and news product and technology. Learn more about Frances Ellen Watkins Harper below.
About the program
Frances Ellen Watkins Harper Fellows will spend a year working in reporting, audience, product or technology roles with full-time salaries and benefits, made possible by the generous support of Michelle Mercer and Bruce Golden. Fellows will receive on-the-job training, mentorship and development opportunities. We’ll also provide career coaching to prepare fellows for their path after their fellowship.
Our cohorts include three reporting fellows, one audience engagement fellow and one product & technology fellow.
Fellows in the reporting track should expect to gain more experience in:
- Covering issues deeply through original reporting, researched context and nuanced framing
- Pitching stories they want to follow through the lens of equity and representation
- Identifying and developing areas of expertise within their reporting
- Exploring storytelling across digital platforms and in-person events
- Centering the voices and experiences of people on the margins, who are often affected the most at the intersections of gender and policy
Fellows in the audience engagement track should expect to gain more experience in:
- Finding, pitching and reporting on audience-focused journalism projects, like our explainer on Texas’ abortion law that was based on reader questions or this KQED roundup of audience stories about COVID-19 shame
- Engaging audiences through alternative story formats, like virtual events or Instagram carousel explainers
- Working with different roles across editorial and product teams to execute on audience engagement projects
- Optimizing and distributing journalism across platforms, such as site, search, social, and newsletters, to meet different audiences where they are
- Crafting accurate, compelling headlines, social and newsletter copy, and visuals on deadline
- Using key newsroom platforms and tools to monitor real-time metrics and trending topics, schedule social media posts, and produce a website or newsletter
Fellows in the product and technology track should expect to gain more experience in:
- Generating product ideas that meet audience needs, advance business goals and align with our mission
- Learning how designers create product and brand experiences.
- Learning how engineers test product feasibility, write requirements, build, test and launch products (with an opportunity for fellows with a technical background to be directly involved in software development)
- Conducting audience research to inspire and inform development of journalism products, such as 19thnews.org, newsletters and events
- Fulfilling components of a nonprofit news membership program that rewards readers for their support
- Communicating goals and plans with stakeholders and facilitating and responding to feedback
Who can apply
Eligible candidates should be any one of the following:
- A recent graduate (within two years of graduation) or mid-career alum (5-10 years’ experience) of a Historically Black College or University
- A graduating senior of a Historically Black College College or University with a graduation date prior to the anticipated fellowship start date of October 2023
- An individual who attended a Historically Black College or University for at least two years, and either transferred or did not graduate
- All applicants must be legally authorized to work in the United States This can include conditional student/work visas, provided The 19th will not be required to take additional steps in sponsorship
Eligible candidates should also have the following:
- Some relevant experience in their chosen fellowship track
- A genuine interest in growing their career in journalism
- Alignment with The 19th’s values and community guidelines
How to apply
Applications for our 2023-24 fellowship class have now closed.
When submitting an application, prospective fellows will need to submit the following:
- A cover letter explaining why you want to work at The 19th, and what impact this fellowship program would have on your career goals
- Your résumé
- Relevant samples of your work
Feel free to reach out to [email protected] if you have any questions.
Support fellowships at The 19th
Are you interested in supporting fellowships at The 19th? Contact Chief Revenue Officer Johanna Derlega ([email protected]) for more details.
Frequently Asked Questions
Fellows will receive a salary of $70,000–$75,000 depending on the fellowship track they are selected for.
Fellows will be eligible for most 19th employment benefits, including:
- 401(k) Plan (up to 3.5% matching on 6% contribution)
- Flexible Spending Plan (for qualifying medical or child care expenses)
- Health, vision, and dental insurance (100% for employee / 60% for dependents)
- Long Term and Short Term Disability insurance
- Life insurance
- Paid time-off (20 days per year)
- Major Holidays (13 per year)+
- Professional development stipend
- Company expense account
Fellowship positions are remote so fellows can reside anywhere in the United States. Some portions of the fellowship will require fellows to travel, whether for 19th convenings, conferences or storytelling.
Once a fellow has been chosen for a particular track, they’ll need to stay in that track for the course of the year.
We ask that fellows commit to completing a full year in the fellowship. In the event that a fellow is unable to complete a full year due to unforeseen circumstances that arise during the year, we’ll consider deferring their fellowship spot to the following year as space and resources permit.
The fellowship duration is limited to one year and we are unable to guarantee continued employment at The 19th after the fellowship year has concluded. Over the course of the fellowship, and as it draws closer to concluding, The 19th will provide assistance to all fellows in preparing for employment post-fellowship, including leveraging our networks to help fellows seek opportunities at places they’d like to work, and helping fellows with application and interview processes.
Applications that do not reflect HBCU attendance do not proceed to the review stage. Only recent graduates, mid-career alums and former students of Historically Black Colleges and Universities will be considered for The 19th’s Frances Ellen Watkins Harper Fellowships. Under the fellowship’s eligibility criteria, a Minority Serving Institution (MSI) is not considered an HBCU. We’re looking to expand the fellowship in the future, so please stay tuned for updates!
The way the fellowship program is funded requires that the funding be used to dedicate resources to HBCU graduates and attendees with the goal of counteracting inequities in journalism.
About Frances Ellen Watkins Harper
Born in Baltimore to free Black parents, Harper was a prolific writer and a correspondent for anti-slavery newspapers, including Frederick Douglass’ The Liberator. She was also a traveling abolitionist and orator who used the Underground Railroad to help people escape slavery. Over the course of her life, she was deeply and actively engaged in the women’s suffrage movement, breaking with the likes of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony over their unwillingness to prioritize the voting rights of Black men. She was the cofounder of the National Association of Colored Women.
Harper embodied The 19th’s asterisk — she was never once able to cast a ballot. But she did not let this disenfranchisement stifle her activism or her civic engagement.
She gave a famous speech at the 1866 National Women’s Rights Convention, “We Are All Bound Up Together,” in which she spoke bluntly about White women’s suffrage: “I do not believe that White women are dew-drops just exhaled from the skies. I think that like men they may be divided into three classes, the good, the bad and the indifferent … You White women speak here of rights. I speak of wrongs.”
Harper was one of the first Black women to be published in the United States: She was the first Black woman ever to have a short story published commercially, she was the most popular Black poet before Paul Laurence Dunbar (she published 80 poems), and her novel, “Iola Leroy,” was one of the first books published by a Black woman. The author was 67 when it debuted.
She also predated Rosa Parks in refusing, in 1858, to give up her seat or ride in the “colored” section of a segregated trolley car.
Harper was a friend and mentor to other Black writers and journalists, including Ida B. Wells. She died in 1911 in her adopted home of Philadelphia.