Urban Community Engagement Fellows Program (UCEF) Banner

Urban Community Engagement Fellows Program 

Recruiting for Pilot Cohort: Spring and Summer 2024

Applications due: November 17, 2023

The Urban Community Engagement Fellows (UCEF) Program is a joint initiative of Michigan State University’s Graduate School and the Office of University Outreach and Engagement.

UCEF will pair a multidisciplinary team of MSU graduate students with Lansing-area community partners to envision and complete community-identified projects that make a substantive difference in revitalizing Lansing.

Like many mid-sized metropolitan areas, the Greater Lansing region is in a period of re-envisioning and revitalization, with a great opportunity to build upon its heritage and strengths while embracing neighborhood and downtown redevelopment possibilities. MSU is well positioned to be a partner as Lansing moves forward in transformative ways that honor both its past and its emerging future success.

Spring and Summer 2024 Pilot Cohort

For the pilot period (Spring and Summer 2024), fellows will engage with community partners in the Greater Lansing area to design the UCEF program for Fall 2024 – Spring 2025 and subsequent years. Fellows in the pilot cohort will not be completing community-identified projects but will focus on developing the curriculum for the subsequent cohorts of fellows.

This program will follow best practices of place-based community engagement. UCEF participants are expected to:  

  • Focus on community-identified priorities. 
  • Ground their approach and activities in diversity, equity, inclusion, justice, and belonging. 
  • Emphasize reciprocity and mutual benefit in partnerships. 
  • Take a strengths-based approach. 
  • Address underlying causes and identify levers of community change.
  • Collaborate with a multidisciplinary cohort of fellows for learning, action, and reflection.
  • Generate deliverables of value to both community partners and graduate fellows.
  • Share their experiences through a research poster or presentation, developed in collaboration with cohort members.

Who Can Apply

This fellowship program is for MSU graduate students with an interest in interdisciplinary team approaches to community engagement in urban areas. UCEF welcomes applicants from all colleges and programs. But for this pilot year, we especially invite graduate students with backgrounds or experience in urban planning, community sustainability, social work—OCL/macro, and education to apply. Applicants should be enrolled as full-time graduate students, making good progress toward degree completion, and in good academic standing.


Fellows in the pilot cohort are expected to commit 5-8 hours per week, including an orientation, regular meetings with the program coordinator, workshops attended as a team/cohort, community partner meetings in Lansing, and completion of a program design agreed upon by the community partners, students, and the program coordinator. Fellows are expected to meet in person; this is not a virtual program. Fellows will receive $7,500 total for the two semesters.

Fellows will be acknowledged at an end-of-year event.


Prospective fellows should complete an online application, which includes a brief application form, a c.v. or resume, a 1–2-page statement of interest, and names and contact information from two professional references. Letters of support are not needed.

Apply for UCEF pilot cohort

Three to five applicants will be accepted into the program based on the advisory committee’s assessment of prospective fellows’ commitment to community engagement; interest in working on an interdisciplinary team; commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion; and the potential for the UCEF program to contribute to their personal and professional development.

Applications for the pilot UCEF program are due on November 17, 2023. Application reviews, interviews, and offers will be extended by the end of the fall semester.


For further information or questions, please contact:

Diane Doberneck
Director for Faculty and Professional Development
Office for Public Engagement and Scholarship
University Outreach and Engagement