Fellowships & Scholarships
AIF Banyan Impact Fellowship for Service in India and US
  Application
Deadlines
  • Northeastern: 02/20/2024
  • Fellowship: 02/20/2024
Contact

If you meet the eligibility criteria and are interested in applying for this fellowship, please fill out a preliminary questionnaire. You may contact the office with any questions.

Award Details

Award Website

The AIF Banyan Impact Fellowship is an immersive bi-national volunteer service program with immense strategic importance in the US-India corridor. By facilitating exchange and collaboration between young professionals from India and the US, the program aims to shape the next generation of leaders committed to positive and sustainable change and creating a lasting US-India relationship by broadening the existing constituency of future leaders, civil society and other stakeholders.

Through its emphasis on a service-leadership model, the bilateral program places young professionals from the US and India in service with communities and organizations across the two countries for mutual learning, capacity building, and leadership development in support of social justice. Fellows work on projects closely linked to Sustainable Development Goals and create sustainable impact through service and fieldwork across diverse thematic areas such as education, public health, livelihoods, social inclusion, minority rights, Dalit and tribal rights, climate justice, LGBTQ+ rights, gender, arts, sports, CSR, and many others.

Since 2001, AIF has selected, trained, and supported 501 Fellows and 216 partner organizations across 25 Indian states to scale impact, catalyze change, and build the next generation of socially-minded change makers. As the AIF Fellowship Program, formerly known as the William J. Clinton Fellowship, enters its third decade under a new avatar; ‘The Banyan Impact Fellowship’, we are proud to expand on the growth of the existing version of the program and add to it a new segment.

Starting 2022, in addition to supporting service opportunities for Indians and Americans across Indian civil society organizations, the Fellowship Program will send social change professionals from India to serve across organizations in the US for capacity building and leadership development, thereby furthering the program’s mission of creating lasting ties between India and the US. PLEASE SEE OUR OTHER AWARD DESCRIPTION FOR MORE INFO ON THAT AWARD -- WHAT FOLLOWS HERE IS FOR SERVICE IN INDIA.

PROGRAM DATES

October 1, 2024 – July 31, 2025.

Abroad Award
Term Length: 10 Months
US Citizenship Not Required

Candidates must:

  • Be a U.S. or Indian citizen, or a U.S. permanent resident
  • Be between the ages of 21 and 35 on September 1, 2023
  • Have completed a Bachelor’s degree (or higher) before the start of the program on September 1, 2023
  • Be fluent in English

Note: Candidates can apply for either the India OR the US based AIF Banyan Impact Fellowship Program, but not both together in a year.

While the program is highly competitive, development work is by nature interdisciplinary and requires teams with diverse skill sets. We encourage candidates from all fields, disciplines and sectors to apply. We welcome applicants from a variety of backgrounds and levels of experience.

Whatever one’s field may be, a candidate should demonstrate a deep interest, passion, and commitment to social and economic development in India. Candidates must show humility and an eagerness to learn within a cross-cultural context. Ideal candidates possess strong professional skills, relevant volunteer or other practical experience, and applicable academic credentials or training. They show a potential for leadership and are entrepreneurial, innovative, and creative in finding solutions and navigating unknown organizational and cultural environments.

Candidates must be flexible and adaptable, and possess exceptional ability to build meaningful relationships across cultures in the social development space. A sensitivity and ability to work with vulnerable communities, as well as humility and passion to acquire new skills informally and “learn by doing” while on the project, are essential for a successful Fellowship.

Although proficiency in an Indian language other than English is not required to apply, it is encouraged. Language skills may be considered for suitable on-site placements.

For U.S. Fellows, AIF provides a roundtrip ticket from their point of origin to India, along with insurance coverage and a monthly living stipend. For Indian Fellows, AIF provides domestic travel from their hometowns in India, insurance coverage, and a monthly living stipend. Please note that the stipend is not a salary, but a living stipend designed to enable Fellows to volunteer in India. The stipend covers basic living expenses such as rent, meals and incidentals, and local transportation related to a Fellows’ project.

The amount of money for living expenses will vary widely upon location. The stipend is designed to allow Fellows a local lifestyle comparable to that of other local staff at their host organizations. Fellows should expect to live modestly, and may need to adjust to a different style of living and spending habits than what they are accustomed to.

The stipend does not cover personal entertainment, non-program related travel, luxury items, or alcoholic beverages. Candidates should plan on bringing additional funds to allow for personal travel and other non-essential items. The amount will depend entirely on your personal spending habits.

 

For details about the application processs, please read here https://aif.org/fellowship/faq/.

The application is a highly competitive, multi-stage process consisting of an online application, an in-person interview, and a competitive matching process for short-listed candidates. Please review this video for a step-by-step guide from the previous cycle.

The initial online application consists of information about a candidate’s educational and professional background and a series of short essay questions. The essay questions are designed to help us understand the knowledge, skills, and qualifications that a candidate would bring to the Fellowship. We also want to get to know candidates better and find out what motivates them. In addition to these, we also ask applicants to provide two professional recommendations. Rather than requiring recommendation letters, we will ask each recommender to complete an online survey about the applicant they are recommending. Candidates should inform their recommenders about the deadline in advance.

When planning answers for the essay questions, candidates should emphasize any experience and qualifications that they feel might be relevant to the Fellowship. Candidates who are currently working full-time may wish to highlight any relevant professional experience. Soon-to-be or recent graduates may wish to focus on relevant academic and volunteer experience. Candidates should use examples and avoid generalizations, drawing from their experiences and being as specific as possible when answering the essay questions.

RECOMMENDERS

AIF requires two references to complete an online recommendation. Due to the growing volume of applications each year, beginning in 2022, AIF requires candidates to submit their references as part of the initial application. Candidates do not need to submit letters of recommendation – instead, their references will be asked to complete an online recommendation survey that evaluates a candidate’s skills. References should be able to address a candidate’s work ethic, cultural adaptability, communication skills, work style, and career goals. AIF recommends that candidates select references who are familiar with them in a professional or volunteer setting and who were in a supervisory role to the candidate. Current students may also submit references from academic advisors or professors, if they cannot provide professional references, or provide one academic and one professional reference. References can not be family, relatives or friends.

We generally recommend that the recommender is a person who has known the candidate for a longer period of time, and who has been in a supervisory role of sorts, whether that’s in a professional, a volunteer, or an academic setting. Depending on where candidates are in their education or career at this moment in time, they may choose two professional references or two academic references, or a mix of both. If a candidate does not have a professional reference, they may also wish to consider a reference from a volunteer, internship, civic engagement, or sports setting who can speak to their skills outside of the classroom.

Recommenders do not need to submit a letter, but will be asked to complete a recommendation form on the application portal. The form is specific to the program and seeks their observations about a candidate’s work style, community involvement, skills, and other relevant information as it pertains to the AIF Fellowship. The form offers context for the recommenders to help them complete their recommendation. The form will not be shared with the candidate.

Candidates may find it helpful to share their motivation for applying for the program with their recommender, and offer any other materials that the recommender may find useful, such as the candidate’s CV or resume.

Interviews

After AIF reviews online applications, long-listed candidates will be invited to a virtual or in-person interview (to be confirmed closer to the date by AIF) in Spring 2023, with a mixed panel of staff, Alumni, and other AIF stakeholders. Successful candidates will be notified of their qualification to the shortlist, enabling them to apply for individual Fellowship projects in the Project Portal in Summer 2023. AIF and its partner organizations will then interview candidates for each Fellowship project. Based on these interviews and an assessment of which candidates have the strongest alignment of skills required for the projects, the final Fellowship cohort will be selected. Fellows will officially be admitted and offered a place into the program in Summer 2023 by AIF. The exact dates will be shared with finalists during the selection.

 

We generally recommend that the recommender is a person who has known the candidate for a longer period of time, and who has been in a supervisory role of sorts, whether that’s in a professional, a volunteer, or an academic setting. Depending on where candidates are in their education or career at this moment in time, they may choose two professional references or two academic references, or a mix of both. If a candidate does not have a professional reference, they may also wish to consider a reference from a volunteer, internship, civic engagement, or sports setting who can speak to their skills outside of the classroom.

Recommenders do not need to submit a letter, but will be asked to complete a recommendation form on the application portal. The form is specific to the program and seeks their observations about a candidate’s work style, community involvement, skills, and other relevant information as it pertains to the AIF Fellowship. The form offers context for the recommenders to help them complete their recommendation. The form will not be shared with the candidate.

Candidates may find it helpful to share their motivation for applying for the program with their recommender, and offer any other materials that the recommender may find useful, such as the candidate’s CV or resume.

Interested? Have Questions?

If you meet the eligibility criteria and are interested in a fellowship or opportunity, please fill out a preliminary questionnaire. Contact the office with any questions: