Applications for the 2024 SELI cohort are now closed.

Fellowship Overview

Now in its 20th year, the Southern Education Leadership Initiative (SELI) is an intensive, eight-week, paid summer fellowship for emerging leaders interested in advancing racial equity and improving education at all levels.

Placed in nonprofits, school districts, or state education agencies in the South, SELI fellows spend the summer developing as leaders, engaging with valuable stakeholders, and acquiring practical job skills through direct learning experiences.

A continuation of SEF’s legacy of educating leaders in the South, which spans more than a century, we launched SELI in 2004 in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision. The initiative recognizes there is still important work to be done to ensure that all children, irrespective of race or class, receive an excellent education.

Through SELI, talented and diverse young leaders have conducted important research, policy analysis, advocacy, and organizing efforts for nearly 120 partner organizations during the 20-year history of the program. SELI alumni can be found today working as educators, policymakers, researchers, community organizers, and committed civic leaders dedicated to improving the lives of all children.

Education and work are the levers to uplift a people. Work alone will not do it unless inspired by the right ideals and guided by intelligence.

W.E.B. DuBois

Network Benefits

Fellows Receive:

  • Experience: The opportunity to work for eight weeks in an organization focused on equity and excellence in education, such as a policy institute, school district, community-based organization, or philanthropic institution.
  • Stipend: A living expense stipend of $5,000 for undergraduate and graduate students.
  • Travel Expenses: Airfare/mileage expenses for travel between home, SELI orientation and closing meetings in Atlanta, and the summer placement site (assistance also provided by SEF in making travel arrangements).
  • Training: Fellows will participate in a three-day orientation, during which they learn about research in the field, the importance of educational equity, strategies for making change, and interact with SELI alumni and SEF staff. *Attendance in full is required
  • Fellowship Placement: Fellows will be supervised by seasoned leaders as they work on challenging research, education policy, and nonprofit program-related projects. *Full-time, 40 hours a week, in-person attendance required
  • Opportunities to Share and Reflect on the Experience: During the SELI closing meeting, fellows come together to share lessons learned, reflect, and brainstorm on how to continue making change as part of a network of emerging leaders in the sector. *Attendance in full is required