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Office of School and Community Partnerships
Teachers College, Columbia University
Teachers College
Columbia University

The Arthur Zankel Urban Fellowship


For Applicants
  • How competitive is the fellowship i.e. how many students apply and how many awards are made?
    The number of awards fluctuates from year to year. For the 2010-11 award year, we received 1,130 applications for 45 places. In 2012-13, we received more than 2,000 applications for 50 places. In 2013-14 we anticipate approximately 35 available Fellowship awards, due to a decline in available funds.
  • How do I apply for the Fellowship?
    The application for 2013-14 Fellowships will be available on this web site at the end of March and the system will accept applications for a minimum of four weeks. The award timeline is different than in previous years and there will be a very limited number of places. Notification of awards will be made on a rolling basis from early June. Eligibility criteria are the same as in previous years. 
  • What additional materials do I need to submit for the application?
    If you are shortlisted, a Zankel site sponsor may contact you for an updated resume, a longer personal statement or to schedule an interview. Please do not submit additional materials unless solicited.
  • If a sponsor requests my personal statement, what should I include?
    Your personal statement should describe how your interests, experiences and educational plans fit the fellowship criteria and requirements, as described on this web site. Your statement could be a customized version of that submitted for your general admission to the College. The personal statement should be one-page, single-space, Times New Roman font, size 12.
  • Must I be full-time to be eligible for the Fellowship?
    You are eligible to apply if you are taking or intending to take at least six credits per semester at Teachers College during the Fellowship year. 
  • Must I be matriculated or fully-admitted to apply for the Fellowship?
    No. The College admits students on a rolling basis from mid-March to August, so if you are a new student you may not be admitted at the time of making your application. However, you must have completed the admissions process and submitted your FAFSA to be considered. Awards will be made on a rolling basis from June and following confirmation of your enrollment status.
  • Are international students eligible for the Fellowship?
    New international students are not eligible to apply for the Fellowship, only continuing students. In other words, international students must have completed one year at Teachers College at the time they would be due to start the Fellowship. You may apply in January 2011 for the September 2011 award if you began your studies at TC in September 2010.
  • I am going to be starting the Summer Principals Academy this summer. Am I eligible for the Fellowship?
    Yes, so long as you are also enrolled for at least six credits in both the fall and spring semesters.
  • What are the eligibility criteria?
    Students must:

    -Be matriculated or be fully-admitted to a masters or doctoral degree program at Teachers College (international students who will begin their studies at TC in 2013-14 are not eligible)
    -Have consecutive enrollment for six credits in both the fall and spring terms
    -Have demonstrated financial need, as determined by TC's Office of Financial Aid based on the central College application
    -Exhibit the interests, skills, experiences and/or characteristics that are a good match to the purpose of the fellowship and the approved service internships
    -Be available to complete the required internship during the normal school day in both fall and spring semesters (not all sites are have schedules compatible with student teaching commitments)
  • How are Fellows selected?
    TC faculty members and project directors who oversee the internship placements (the “Site Sponsors”) will judge the merit of your application based on the relevance of your skills, experience and interests in their placement site. Some Sponsors conduct interviews, others do not. They then select their first choice candidates and a small number of “back-up” candidates.
  • How do you judge financial need?
    Financial need is determined for domestic students using the information available on their FAFSA. Financial need is determined for international students using comparable measures calculated by the College’s Office of International Student Services.
  • I was a Zankel Fellow last year, may I apply again this year?
    The Fellowship is a one-year award and is not automatically renewable, but yes, you are eligible to re-apply for a second year. If you would like to stay in your current site, it is recommended that you speak to your Site Sponsor about continuing, so they know to expect your application.
  • Do all placements take place during the school day and how flexible are the hours?
    Yes, you can assume that placements will take place during the school day and your award is contingent upon your meeting the time commitments of that placement. An award may be rescinded on the grounds of incompatible schedule up until October of the Fellowship year. 

    Each site operates its own schedule; some with more flexibility than others. If you anticipate a student teaching commitment during the Fellowship year, it is recommended that you contact the Site Sponsor for your first preference site and to discuss whether the site accepts candidates involved in student teaching.  It is recommended that you contact your Site Sponsor as soon as you receive notice of your award, to confirm the schedule. Use the menu at the top of the page to find internship site information.
  • Do all placements take place in New York City?
  • Is it possible to fulfill the internship through approved research or volunteering at my own school/organization?
    Internships take place only at pre-approved “sites”. Typically there are 10-15 sites a year, working with approximately 25-30 schools/organizations. All sites are overseen by a Sponsor who is a TC faculty member or project director. Use the menu bar at the top of the page to find internship site information.
  • Is it possible to be an out-of-state Fellow?
    All placements take place in New York City. It is not a requirement of the Fellowship that you live in New York City or in New York State, provided you can attend your site at the required times.
  • I missed the application deadline but I have a good reason, will you accept my late application?
    No. The application form automatically goes offline at the time of deadline and no late applications are accepted. Exceptions are made only when a technical fault of the applications system has prevented your completion of the process.
  • Is it possible to indicate a preference for one or more placements?
    You will be asked on the application form to state your top three site preferences. It is highly recommended that you make at least one preference.
  • How closely aligned does my indicated placement interest have to be to my studies at TC?
    In most cases, sites do not requite that your placement interest align with your studies, but it might serve as an advantage if the site you are aiming for is Department-based or looking for specific subject-area skills that your studies support.  
  • In my application I stated a preference for one site, but am now being considered for another. Am I still being considered for my preference?
    Yes. More than one Site Sponsor may simultaneously consider you for an internship.
  • When will I hear if I have been accepted into the Fellowship program?
    Notification of awards will be made on a rolling basis from early June.
  • Will you be notifying unsuccessful applicants too?
    Yes, we will be notifying all applicants, so if you have not received a response by August, contact as there might be a problem with your registered email address.
  • Is there a waiting/backup list in case successful applicants drop out?
    Successful applicants have seven to ten days to accept the award. If they decline or fail to respond, it is immediately offered to Sponsors' second choice candidate and so on down the waiting list. We will not disclose to candidates whether they are on a waiting list, but they may remain on the waiting list throughout the year and be contacted if a Fellow withdraws at any point.

For Fellowship Award Winners
  • What do I need to do to prepare for the Fellowship?
    Once you have accepted the Fellowship, this is a good question for your Site Sponsor, whose name and contact information are provided in the award notification. It is recommended that you contact your Sponsor early to discuss the placement schedule and confirm your availability.
  • What are the award reporting/training requirements?
    You are required to attend a two-hour orientation session, which is usually scheduled for the first two weeks of September. Your Site Sponsor may excuse you from this session if there is a conflict with your internship schedule. In addition, you will be invited to attend NYS Mandated Reporter Training. While this is not mandatory, it is strongly recommended that anyone working with children participate as it covers identifying and reporting child abuse and the course leads to a certificate. This is typically a four-hour workshop held in late September. Details of these training opportunities will be emailed to Fellows at the beginning of the fall semester. In terms of reporting, the Fellowship requires that you submit a final report at the end of your internship, which is given to the Zankel family. You will also be encouraged to participate in an end of year showcase/reception in late April. All other reporting requirements are set by your Site Sponsor, and you should check with them at the beginning of the year.
  • When should I contact my Site Sponsor?
    It is a good idea to contact your Site Sponsor soon after you have accepted the award, to introduce yourself, thank them for selecting you and to discuss your internship schedule. Some Sponsors have limited availability over the summer, but if you still have not managed to reach them by September 1, feel free to contact us on
  • What will my schedule and hours be?
    Your Site Sponsor sets your schedule and hours, and it is a requirement of the Fellowship that you are able to attend at these times. Some Sponsors have flexibility with the schedule, others do not. It is a good idea to contact your Sponsor soon after accepting the award, to discuss the hours and confirm your availability.
  • What if I cannot attend for the schedule/hours required?
    If an agreement on hours cannot be reached, your Site Sponsor may legitimately choose to withdraw the Fellowship and offer it to another candidate.
  • What if I cannot attend the orientation?
    You are only exempt from the orientation if your Site Sponsor releases you on the basis that it conflicts with your internship schedule.
  • How/when will I be paid the Fellowship stipend?
    The $10,000 stipend will be paid in two installments of $5,000, one for each semester. The funds will be deposited directly into your student account approximately 4-5 weeks in to each semester and following confirmation from your Site Sponsor that you are fulfilling the requirements of the Fellowship.
  • Are there restrictions as to how I spend the Fellowship funds?
    The Zankel Fellowship is set up for tuition purposes (deposited directly into your student account each semester). However, if you are receiving other aid/stipends and overpay on the cost of your tuition and expenses, Student Accounts will refund you that money in the middle of the semester. You can therefore potentially receive the Zankel funding as a refund, which can be used for other expenses.

For Site Sponsor applicants
  • What is a Site Sponsor?
    A Site Sponsor is a project/program/department representative or an individual TC faculty member who supervises one or more Zankel Fellows on an internship that involves working in direct service with disadvantaged urban youth for one academic year, for a minimum of five hours a week. The internship could take place in a school or organization, so long as it involves direct service with disadvantaged urban youth in New York City. The internship may include a research component, as long as the primary service requirements of the fellowship are met. There are a finite number of Sponsors selected every year and the sponsorship lasts for one academic year.
  • What does being a Site Sponsor involve?
    Site Sponsors are responsible for:

    - Selecting their own Zankel Fellow(s) from the applicant pool according to the Fellowship selection criteria and their own project needs
    - Working with the academic departments to identify their preferred candidates
    - Setting the schedule for Fellow(s) to ensure at least five hours a week of direct service in addition to planning and preparation time
    - Setting and overseeing any reporting requirements that are necessary for the internship placement
    - Liaising with the schools or agencies where the Fellow(s) provide service, including corresponding with Principals regarding any fingerprinting or background checks that are required for the placement
    - Securing Institutional Review Board approval where necessary for any human subjects research undertaken off-campus in association with the Zankel Fellowship
    - Mentoring the Fellow(s), providing updates as requested by the Zankel Fellowship Team and facilitating the completion of an end-of-year report by the Fellow(s)

  • How do I apply to be a site for Zankel Fellows?
    If you would like to apply to sponsor a site or have questions about the process and criteria for selection, please contact
  • Must I sponsor a Fellow to provide a site?
    Yes. It is not possible to have Zankel Fellows attend your site unless you provide supervision.
  • Can we place Fellows on sites outside of New York City?
    No. The site must be located in New York City, and it is advised that you consider the commute a Fellow would have to undertake to reach your site.
  • How are Sponsors approved and using what criteria?
    Internship proposals are reviewed once a year by a committee comprised of representatives from the Dean’s Office, Office of School and Community Partnerships, Office of Development and TC faculty. The Zankel Fellowship Committee also determines the number of fellows for each site. Every effort is made to approve internships from a broad spectrum of Departments. Selections are based on the following considerations:

    - How closely the internship aligns with the donor’s requirements i.e. working with disadvantaged inner-city youth for five or more hours a week

    - The number of site applications submitted/approved for each Department

    - The ability of the Sponsor to identify and provide all necessary fingerprinting or background checks

  • What hours/schedule am I allowed to require of Fellows?
    In addition to the five or more hours of direct service with youth, you may schedule appropriate hours for planning and preparation. The total weekly commitment for each Fellow is typically 10-12 hours and should not on average exceed 15 hours.
  • Where can I get more information on the Fellow selection process?
    If you still have questions about the selection process, contact: