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The Start with Equity Fellowship

A novel 1-year fellowship program for advanced masters level or doctoral students, postdoctoral scholars, and early career professionals to prepare the next generation of changemakers in early childhood policy and research.


With funding from the Heising Simons Foundation, the Children’s Equity Project is proud to offer the Start with Equity Fellowship, a 1-year fellowship program to prepare the next generation of changemakers in early childhood policy and research. The Start with Equity Fellows will work with CEP network members to conduct, review, and translate cutting-edge equity research that is applicable to early childhood education and informs state and national policy. As part of the year-long fellowship, Fellows will serve as summer interns at a policymaking organization in Washington D.C. to develop a better understanding of how research becomes policy. Fellows will receive a stipend to cover a majority of the living expenses associated with the summer internship.

The fellowship is for advanced masters-level or doctoral students, postdoctoral scholars, and early career professionals who articulate a clear interest in policy-related research as it applies to early childhood equity (0-10 years of age). We aim for the cohort to be reflective of the rich diversity in the United States, with representation from across geographies and underrepresented communities, including people from rural communities, people of color, Native Americans, LGBTQ+ people, people with disabilities, immigrants, refugees, and veterans.

Fellowship Design

The program will run from August through July 2024. Fellows will participate in the following core elements of the program:

Monthly Mentorship Meetings

Fellows are assigned CEP research mentors who conduct equity-focused research and are skilled and experienced at translating research to practice and policy. Fellows will meet with their CEP mentors monthly and collaborate closely to develop an equity policy project. Fellows are also assigned a policy mentor (i.e. policymakers or policy advocates) who supports their developing knowledge of policy and oversees their internship placement.

Policy Project

Each Fellow will be responsible for the development of a policy project. Projects are informed by scholars’ research interests, are grounded in equity, and must result in a policy brief or practice tool of national relevance and applicability. Each Fellow will present their project at a Fellows convening held in Washington D.C. at the end of the Fellowship.

Professional Development

Fellows will have monthly professional development opportunities where they will meet with a robust network of policy makers, researchers, and practitioners working in equity research, policy, or practice. Fellows will also receive various training opportunities, including racial equity training and policy training to better understand systems, laws, and potential levers of change.

Summer Internship

To develop a better understanding of how research becomes policy, Fellows will spend 8-10 weeks in Washington D.C. receiving invaluable experience as summer interns with a policymaking organization. Fellows will be expected to commit to at least 20-30 hours per week. To offset the costs of unpaid internship opportunities, Fellows are provided a stipend to support living costs in Washington DC for the duration of their internship. Previous Fellows have had placements at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families and Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, Child Care Aware of America, and the Bipartisan Policy Center.

How to apply

To apply for the Start with Equity Fellowship for Fall of 2024, send the following to Janniqua Dawkins (

  • a cover letter,*
  • an updated CV,
  • A letter of recommendation (Must be sent by the recommender on your behalf)

*The cover letters should be no longer than three pages, single-spaced, and include:

  1. Your interests as they relate to the Start with Equity Fellows Program,
  2. A description of the work/project you plan to complete during the year of the Fellowship, including how the work connects to the mission/vision of the CEP and what deliverables will result at the end of the year, and
  3. A list of CEP partners whose work aligns with your interests.

Applicants who come from underrepresented backgrounds are strongly encouraged to apply.

All materials are due electronically to Janniqua Dawkins ( no later than June 16, 2023.

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Contact Us

For more information, please contact Janniqua Dawkins at