The Fellowship

The Work First Fellowship connects young professionals with the opportunity to have a direct impact on urban poverty. Fellows work one-on-one with individuals living below the poverty level to help them find employment and get back on their feet, while also conducting policy research on effective job placement programs.

This service year combines direct support to the needy while also reviewing public policy that shapes the lives of their clients.

Meet the 2017-2018 Fellowship Class

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Fellows provide skill-building training for individuals living on public assistance to help them find employment and achieve self-sufficiency. They gain experience by providing classroom instruction leading classes on a variety of workforce development topics, including: Computer Literacy, English as a Second Language, Soft Skills, and Financial Literacy.

Fellows also provide support to clients through job search activities, resume and cover letter reviews, and mock interviews. The Work First Foundation encourages fellows to be leaders in the classroom by designing and implementing new curricula. In the past, Fellows have developed curricula for classes on HTML/CSS, self- efficacy, and nutrition. This on the ground work helps fellows begin to form relevant and substantive research questions.


Public Policy Research

In recognition of the unique exposure to urban poverty that the Fellowship offers, the Work First Foundation asks fellows to share their knowledge with policy experts and workforce development professionals. Therefore, fellows are responsible for conducting a year-long research project that culminates in a presentation to workforce development stakeholders at the end of the program.

Fellows are free to explore whichever aspect of workforce development most interest them, as long the findings benefit the clients they serve. The Work First Foundation feels strongly about this condition, as it ensures that fellows will have a direct impact on urban poverty. Throughout the year fellows also attend events and policy discussions to expand their understanding of public policy and how it impacts their clients. Previous presentations include “Lessening the Effects of Housing Instability on Employment,” “Developing Workforce to Overcome Food Insecurity,” and “Wage Cliffs and a Rising Minimum Wage.” 

Click  to download the 2016-2017 Work First Journal →


Professional development

Finally, the Work First Foundation asks that fellows take advantage of professional development opportunities. Fellows have attended events hosted by New York City Employment and Training Coalition, Manhattan Institute, New York University, Network After Work, City University of New York, Concordia Institute, NationSwell, among other think tanks, universities and institutes. 



Graduated fellows are now lawyers, policy experts, social workers, academics and business leaders. Fellowship Alums are connected to incoming fellows to share experiences and guide new fellows in the next chapters of their lives.     

2018-2019 Fellowship Announcement


The Work First Foundation and America Works seek highly motivated candidates with a passion for direct service and an interest in fighting poverty through employment. Ideal candidates will have a strong academic background, research experience, and an interest in working directly with adults who are receiving public assistance.


Fellowship Description

The Work First Fellowship connects young professionals interested in public policy with the opportunity to have a direct impact on urban poverty. The Work First Foundation is a workforce innovation laboratory that sponsors demonstration programs, conducts research, and disseminates findings to policy experts, business leaders, and academics. The America Works network of companies (America Works) are job placement agencies with locations throughout the nation that supports individuals who are receiving public assistance. The Fellowship program is a partnership between the Work First Foundation and America Works in which the organizations work together on recruitment, management, and co-sponsorship of events for Fellows.  

Through America Works, Fellows provide employment support services to America Works clients: individuals above the age of 18 receiving public assistance, many of whom experience homelessness, are veterans, are awaiting trial, and / or face other barriers that often impact low-income communities. The services that Fellows provide include teaching, case management, and program administration tailored to help America Works clients reach self-sufficiency and gainful employment. Fellows’ research and professional development responsibilities are sponsored by the Work First Foundation. Fellows complete a year-long research project on a topic related to workforce development and urban poverty with guidance from the Foundation and advisors. The fellowship culminates with a presentation of each research project to policy experts, business leaders, and other workforce development stakeholders. 


Basic Qualifications

  • Minimum Degree Required: Bachelor’s degree
  • Capable of providing confidential support to clients’ sensitive case management
  • Interest in teaching in a classroom environment daily (while previous formal teaching experience is not necessary, a desire to learn how to effectively teach is required)



  • Work full-time in one of the America Works offices
  • Perform case management duties for America Works Clients
  • Assist America Works clients with job placement and retention
  • Provide job-readiness services such as resume reviews and interview preparation
  • Teach courses and design curricula on a variety of topics
  • Attend policy discussions and professional development events
  • Conduct a year-long research project on a workforce development / urban poverty topic
  • Write a report and present findings based on research done throughout the year



  • New York, NY (Bronx, Brooklyn, Jamaica, Manhattan, and Staten Island)
  • Washington, DC
  • Baltimore, MD
  • San Francisco, CA
  • Milwaukee, WI
  • Westampton, NJ

*Responsibilities may differ based on location.



June 2018 – June 2019



A $40,000/calendar year salary rate plus benefits (10 Vacation Days, 5 Sick Days, 2 Religious Holidays, 9 Company Holidays, Pre-Tax Commuter Benefits, and the option for Health Care Coverage)

An additional $5,000 award is available to eligible Fellows upon successful completion of each Fellows’ individuals research project