Fellowship Overview

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 across the pre-K through college continuum. 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, SELI’s 2004 launch marked the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision. Our initiative recognized that 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 over 100 partner organizations over the course of its 16-year tenure. 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: an opportunity to work for eight weeks (May 23- July 15, 2022) in an organization concerned with equity and excellence in education;
  • Stipend: a living expense stipend of $4,500 (for undergraduate juniors or graduating seniors) or $5,000 (for graduate students who will have completed at least one term by June 1, 2022);
  • Travel: all airfare/car mileage expenses associated with traveling to and from SEF trainings to summer placement site (assistance also provided by SEF in making travel arrangements);
  • Orientation (May 18-20, 2022): training that exposes students to research in the field, stresses the importance of civic engagement, teaches strategies for making change, and provides opportunities to meet and learn from inspiring leaders involved in education policy and practice (attendance required);
  • Fellowship Placement: guidance and supervision provided by seasoned sector leaders to work on challenging research, education policy, and nonprofit program related projects; placements change annually and are made based on students’ interests and regional needs for students; and
  • Closing Meeting (July 20-22, 2022): an opportunity to present summer emersion experience to peers while reflecting and brainstorming lessons learned from this learning opportunity and how they may be taken back to their communities; solidifies role as a member of a network of emerging leaders in the sector (attendance required).

download the seli fact sheet


Have questions about the fellowship? See our FAQ for answers to general questions. For additional assistance, please forward all inquiries to our SELI Program Coordination Team at seli@southerneducation.org.