The Newman Civic Fellow Awards: Recognizing Students Making an Impact


Civic engagement and community leadership are more important now than ever. While challenges face our communities and democracy, hope emerges through dedicated young people taking action. The Newman Civic Fellow Awards honor college student leaders across the United States who have demonstrated an investment in finding solutions and bringing people together. 

A Legacy of Citizenship and Service

The Newman Civic Fellow Awards were created in 2001 after the death of Frank Newman, a tireless advocate for civic engagement and social justice, to carry on his legacy. Newman dedicated his career to expanding access to high-quality education and strengthening communities. He founded several educational non-profits and wrote influential reports on issues including diversity in higher education. Newman firmly believed every individual has the power to create positive change.

The Newman Civic Fellow Selection Process

Each year, Campus Compact – a coalition of colleges and universities committed to civic purpose – jointly administers the Newman Civic Fellow Awards with the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate. All accredited colleges or universities in the U.S. may nominate up to three undergraduate students each year for consideration. Self-nominations are also accepted, though students should consult their campus compact office first.



To be eligible, student nominees must be enrolled as undergraduates for the entire academic year and demonstrate an investment in community problem-solving and social change through significant involvement in community service, community-based learning, or campus organizing. There is no minimum or maximum GPA requirement.

Application Process

Nominated students participate in a multi-step application process, including submitting responses to essay prompts and sharing their civic involvement and future goals. Applications are assessed based on the depth, skill, and initiative students demonstrate through their civic actions and leadership.


A panel of leaders in civic education, including Campus Compact members,review all applications. They select up to 252 Newman Civic Fellows from among nominees each year. Selection considers geographic, campus, and community diversity.

What Fellows Receive

Newman Civic Fellows receive prestigious annual recognition and networking benefits to support their continued civic growth and leadership development.


$1,000 Fellowship Award

All selected Fellows receive a $1,000 professional development award, provided through the generous support of local, national, and international philanthropic partners. This funding can support such projects as travel for conferences, community-building activities, or education initiatives.

National Recognition

Fellows join a respected alumni network and receive benefits connecting them to influential civic leaders, internship opportunities, and service trips. Their commitment and skills are also promoted nationwide through media features and awards events.

Ongoing Guidance and Programming

Campus Compact provides ongoing learning resources and virtual convenings for Fellows to further develop tools like collaboration, advocacy, and social change strategy. Programming may include working with mentors, paid summer fellowships, and engagement with policymakers.

The Impact of Newman Civic Fellows

The past 20 years have demonstrated civic leadership is alive and thriving in communities coast to coast thanks to Newman Civic Fellows. Their projects have addressed pressing issues including environmental justice, racial equity, poverty alleviation, and more.

Service in Action

Through intensive service, Fellows have established after-school programs and community gardens, organized disaster relief efforts, funded student scholarships, taught civic education and advocated for healthy communities. Their tireless efforts have improved the lives of thousands.

Policy Change Leaders

Beyond local initiatives, Fellows often use skills to advocate for systemic change. They have successfully led campaigns influencing policies around issues like voter registration modernization, food access, and climate solutions being implemented statewide and nationally.

Catalyzing Future Leadership

Many past Fellows have continued their civic journeys in influential roles long after college, from teachers and nonprofit directors to elected officials, activists, and public servants helping to strengthen democracy itself. The Fellows program clearly inspires a lifelong commitment to stewardship and problem-solving.

By the Numbers

Since 2001:

  • Over 6,700 college student leaders recognized as Newman Civic Fellows
  • Representing more than 900 institutions in all 50 U.S. states and Washington D.C.
  • Initiatives directly impacting an estimated 5 million community members nationwide

These numbers paint a clear picture – Newman Civic Fellows get results. Through their efforts, community challenges are addressed, civic participation increases, and our shared future grows brighter one neighborhood at a time.

##Guidance for Prospective Applicants

For students considering applying for the prestigious Newman Civic Fellow Award, focus should be placed on civic experiences demonstrating initiative, problem-solving skills, and measurable impact. Here are additional tips for strong applications:

Highlight Depth Over Breadth

Rather than involvement in many surface-level activities, convey meaningful contributions to one or two causes through long-term commitment, projects you lead, or new programs established.

Connect Past to Present and Future

Show how early interests developed into current civic work and relate this to post-graduation aspirations to advance social change through a career or further education.

Quantify Your Work Whenever Possible

Provide concrete numbers of people served, funds raised, and policies influenced that illustrate tangible results of your efforts in the community.

Demonstrate Leadership

Explain the civic roles you have taken on, such as starting new collaborations, mentoring others, or representing your school in external initiatives.

Engage Reflectively

Discuss what you have learned from challenges or setbacks and how this shapes your civic perspective and future goals. Make sure to proofread for typos or errors.

Ask For Letters of Support

Request recommendations from advisors or community partners who can personally endorse your civic character and accomplishments.

With intentional preparation showing commitment and outcomes, students stand an excellent chance to receive this prestigious recognition of their civic leadership. Best of luck to all potential applicants!

FAQs About the Newman Civic Fellow Awards

1. What are the benefits of being selected as a Newman Civic Fellow?

Key benefits include:

  • $1,000 professional development award
  • National recognition and spotlighting your work
  • Access to opportunities like internships and mentorship from civic leaders
  • Network of over 6,700 alumni working in social change careers
  • Ongoing guidance, programming, and virtual convenings

2. How competitive is the Fellows selection process?

The Newman Civic Fellow Awards are highly competitive. Each year, Campus Compact and the Edward M. Kennedy Institute select just 252 Fellows from nominations across over 900 higher education institutions nationwide. With such a small percentage of applicants awarded, candidates need to demonstrate exceptionally high-impact civic work.

3. Can international or community college students apply?

No, eligibility is limited to currently enrolled undergraduate students at accredited four-year colleges and universities in the United States. The program aims to recognize civic leadership among this demographic.

4. Is there a minimum GPA requirement?

There is no specific GPA cutoff – the selection process evaluates applicants based on the quality, skills, and outcomes demonstrated through their civic endeavors and leadership, not academic performance. Of course, a strong application overall is more competitive.

5. How do I get more involved if I’m not selected as a Fellow?

Even if you don’t receive the Fellows Award in a given year, your community work is still making a valuable difference. Consider joining your school’s chapter of Campus Compact to stay engaged with service-learning opportunities. Also, explore civic internships or apply again next year with further experience. Your leadership is appreciated.

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