Helpful Hints for Reagan-Fascell Fellowship Applicants

Guest post by Ashley Walburn of the Reagan-Fascell Fellowship Program

The Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellows Program at the International Forum for Democratic Studies is currently seeking applications for its 2015-2016 fellowships.  As you may know from previous posts on The Source, the Reagan-Fascell program offers five-month fellowships to leading democracy activists, journalists, and scholars from around the world.  During their time in residence, our fellows reflect on their experiences and consider lessons learned, conduct independent research and writing, engage with colleagues and counterparts in the United States, and build ties with a global network of democracy advocates.

After learning more about the program and the application process, you may wonder where to begin.  Don’t worry – we’re here to help!  The ten helpful hints listed below are designed to walk you through the application process and give you a few tips we hope you find useful.

  1. Start early and plan ahead.  Begin your application early so you will have ample time to complete all the steps prior to the deadline.
  2. Identify and approach appropriate referees.  Choose your referees carefully. Referees should know you well enough to discuss the strength of your proposal and the potential impact of your work in your community or country.
  3. Save your work! Save a backup copy of your work in case of technical difficulties.
  4. Clarify your fellowship goals up front. Be specific.  State your goals clearly at the beginning of your proposal and throughout your application.
  5. Be sure your proposal is feasible in the fellowship period. Think about the timeline of your proposed project and show that you will be able to complete your proposed work during the five-month fellowship period.
  6. Provide sufficient information. Be sure to meet the minimum word count for each question.  Do not repeat sentences or include filler material in order to meet the minimum word count.
  7. Explain your project’s impact. The most successful applications show how a project will contribute to strengthening democratic institutions and values.
  8. Submit original work. Your project proposal should reflect your own original work. Cite sources if you include quotes or draw on reference materials.
  9. Show why you need to be in Washington, DC. Explain how being in Washington, D.C. adds value to your project.  Remember—the fellowship doesn’t fund fieldwork outside Washington.
  10. Get feedback, revise, and proofread your application. The most successful proposals are those that have gone through several drafts.

If you would like to learn more, find answers to some of our most frequently asked questions, or apply, please visit us at or follow the Forum on Twitter and Facebook.  You may also contact us at

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