Partner with Fels

You are here

Career opportunities depend on many community partners who, in return for their time and expertise, benefit from the passion and talent of our students, faculty, and staff. Nonprofit organizations and government agencies can submit proposals for Fels Lab projects or contact our staff about student interns.

To partner with Fels, please read the overview below and determine whether your organization would benefit from assistance with a focused project or goal or more general internship support. If you have additional questions, contact Lauren Russell at lrus@sas.upenn.edu.

Submit a Fels Lab project form

Fels Lab overview for partner organizations

What kind of projects should I submit?

All projects must focus on a clearly defined problem or need. As a clearinghouse of opportunities for collaboration with community organizations, Fels Lab welcomes a diverse set of projects. Projects can touch upon any area of public policy, such as criminal justice, education, energy, international relations, or social policy. Some projects involve providing targeted, practical assistance through strategic plans or fundraising support. Other projects involve quantitative analysis, process tracing, or program evaluation.

How many projects can my organization submit?

Organizations are welcome to submit multiple projects, but community partners with two or more matched projects may be capped in their participation in Fels Lab.

What kinds of organizations should submit a Fels Lab project proposal?

We encourage all nonprofit organizations and government agencies to submit proposals! A priority is placed on sharing projects from local, nonprofit organizations in Philadelphia, Camden, Wilmington, and neighboring communities. Submissions and matches are encouraged for community partners with limited resources, strong technical assistance needs, and missions to serve disadvantaged populations.

What kinds of projects are students most likely to select?

Fels Lab seeks out a diverse set of projects, but since unique student interests drive the project matching process, some projects may be more likely to “match” than others. Based on a recent student interest survey, we believe that Fels Lab projects involving strategic planning, program evaluation, performance management, policy analysis, and/or program development have the highest likelihood of student selection.

How much time will my organization need to invest if selected?

Students and community partners should determine how frequently in-person meetings, fieldwork, and other on-site trips should occur. Site visits may be minimal or numerous depending upon the project. If the project is based near Philadelphia, a student may seek to meet with a community partner on a regular basis. At minimum, students should actively keep in touch with community partners via regular phone conversations and email exchanges. Students may work remotely most of the time, but must have reliable and consistent access to information and contacts at the organization.

How can my organization best provide support to the student completing our project?

Community partners can best support students by clearly identifying a need, setting expectations regarding project deliverables, giving access to all relevant information or data, being responsive throughout the project, and offering feedback on interim or final products. Community partners should help the student understand their perspective and meet their goals without closing themselves off to external, objective review. Students engaging with community partners through the Fels Lab will be doing so as a part of their final capstone project. Students completing the project as a capstone project should not be paid for their efforts.

When can I expect a project deliverable from the student to be submitted?

Most Fels Lab projects are completed in fulfillment of students’ capstone requirement. Capstone projects are due in either May or August (depending on if the student is a full-time or part-time student). Please indicate in your project proposal what completion timeline works best for your project. Partner organizations are encouraged and invited to come to campus to hear their student’s capstone presentations on the last day of class.

My project might be better for an intern rather than for a student’s capstone project—how should I proceed?

If your organization needs support, but those needs are not as focused on a singular project as a Fels Lab project should be, you may simply benefit from a Fels intern. We are always looking for internship opportunities to share with our students. Please send your internship job description to Colleen Bonner at cobonner@upenn.edu to add to our internships listing.

My project proposal is more research-based than problem-focused—should I still submit my proposal?

Yes, you can still submit this type of proposal.

Submitting a Fels Lab project proposal

How do I submit my Fels Lab project proposal?

All community partners must submit their Fels Lab project proposal through the Fels Lab Submission Form webpage.

When are Fels Lab project proposals due?

For projects to be completed by the end of August, Fels Lab project proposals must be submitted by September 30.

How will my project proposal be evaluated?

Proposals are evaluated based on:

  • Clarity: Are project needs and goals clearly specified?
  • Feasibility: Can this project be reasonably undertaken by a student?
  • Practicality: Can a student learn or gain useful skills from this experience?
  • Impact: Can this project make a valuable public service contribution?
  • Timeline: Does the timeline of the project match the students’ timelines through capstone or internship experiences?
  • Deliverable: Does the project have a clear deliverable that students will complete? Does the organization have a firm enough understanding of what a “finished” project will look like?

What happens after I submit my project proposal?

Following submission from the online form, a project proposal is reviewed by a committee of Fels staff and faculty members. The committee then decides to approve, reject, or invite revision and resubmission of the proposal. We aim to inform organizations of decisions within ten days of submission.

Student match process

If my project is approved, how will I be matched to a student who will work on my project?

After your project is approved, it is available for students to view and select as an internship or capstone project if he or she chooses. Priority is given to students who choose the project as a capstone. We cannot guarantee students will take on your project, but we encourage those who would be a good fit. Students submit an interest survey to us by in October ranking their top five project choices. We then match students and introduce successful matches in November.

What if no student selects my project?

While a project may be approved by Fels administration, there are no guarantees students will select it. We contact all organizations to provide an update at the end of November. If a student has not selected your project by then, we then ask you if you would like to relist the project for the next cohort of students.

Ready to learn more?
Sign up to receive details about Fels programs and events
Matthew Forrest
Complete your skill set
Matthew Forrest (MPA ’19) saw his Fels Lab as an opportunity to gain hands-on experience in a new field.
Fels MPA
Fels in the community
Our students, alumni, and faculty are committed to making change

Fels Institute of Government

The Fels Institute of Government
3814 Walnut St. 
Philadelphia, PA 19104

(215) 898-7326
felsinstitute@sas.upenn.edu

Facebook   Twitter   YouTube