The Boston Schweitzer Fellows Chapter is a one-year interdisciplinary program focused on community service, leadership development, and reflection. Graduate and professional students in health-related fields design, implement, and evaluate health and wellness projects that meet the needs of underserved communities while also developing their skills as leaders in service. Below are frequently asked questions of potential Fellowship Mentors. You can also download a copy of this FAQ at this link.
Q: I have volunteers and interns working at my organization already. How is a Fellow different from other volunteers?
A: The Schweitzer Fellowship Program encourages students to design and implement a service project in an underserved community. Students are responsible for leading the project in collaboration with the community. Fellows develop new projects or expand projects at the community organizations, rather than participate in “plug-in” volunteer opportunities or work that staff would do otherwise. Fellows are different than other volunteers in that they are fully responsible for the projects they conduct and are doing so under the guidance of Program mentors and staff.
Q: How are Fellows selected? What sort of screening process is there?
A: Fellows undergo a rigorous selection process. Applicants are asked to submit an application which includes a personal statement. After an initial screening process, finalists are interviewed by members of our Selection Committee (Advisory Council members, former Fellows, current Fellows, and school/university staff/faculty). Reference checks are also conducted for each finalist. Selection Committee members look for applicants who are passionate about helping the community, dedicated to their work, demonstrated dependability and responsibility, and who come from a variety of backgrounds and experience levels. Once selected, Fellows are asked to sign a contract agreeing with the requirements of the Program.
Q: How do Fellows choose their project focus?
A: In developing projects, Fellows are encouraged to think broadly about health. Fellows often address the social determinants of health, like education, employment, and food access. Fellows are required to complete 200 hours of service; 100 direct, face-to-face community service hours, and 100 indirect (planning/administration) hours. Fellow must design a project that allows for directly meeting the needs of the community.
Q: When should the Fellow start their project and when will it be done?
A: The Program year runs from their orientation in April to May 31st of the following year. The Fellows are allowed to complete their project at any time within that period, as long as the timeframe works well for both the site and the Fellow. Some Fellows will conduct most of their hours over the summer, some will be away during the summer and begin their hours in the fall, and some will work consistently throughout the entire program year.
Q: Who else besides me supervises/supports the Fellow, who is the main person I should contact regarding the Fellow?
A: The Boston Program Director provides substantial support to Fellows as they complete their Fellowship. Fellows choose a site mentor and faculty mentor (from their school). If a faculty or site mentor ever has a concern or comment about the Fellow, he/she should contact the Program Director, Karen Spiller, firstname.lastname@example.org, 617- 975-7575.
Q: How much contact should I have with the Fellow, the Program Director, and other mentors? Do I have to attend a lot of meetings?
A: Each Fellow will have a faculty mentor (someone who is on staff in the academic program where they will be enrolled during the Fellowship year) in addition to a community site mentor. Typically, Fellows will meet with their site mentors more regularly than they will with their faculty mentors. The amount of contact may vary, but after the site mentor orients the Fellow to the site, the program’s expectation is that Fellows will be more or less able to do their project without a lot of supervision.
We ask that faculty mentors be willing to be contacted by the site mentors if there is ever a technical issue or question about the Fellow’s project. But other than that, usually the faculty mentor and site mentor do not formally meet each other except at voluntary program events such as the annual Celebration of Service at the end of the Fellowship year.
We suggest that the Fellow establish some expectations with their mentors about frequency of meetings, and recommend deciding on a regular meeting time such as a monthly check-in to ensure any scheduling challenges are avoided. Fellows will also send their mentors and the Program Director a monthly progress report to keep them updated and to serve as a channel of communication between all of us.
Q: How are hours tracked?
A: Each Fellow submits a monthly written report that describes their activities and reflections for the previous month. The Fellows email the report to the Program Director, ‘cc’ing their site mentor and faculty mentor. Each report states how many hours were conducted, both for direct service and for administrative/planning activities. An activity log captures that information. The monthly report serves as a communication tool between the mentors, the Fellow, and Program Director, and is the main tool used to track project hours.
Q: How is the Fellow evaluated? Do I have any reporting responsibilities?
A: There are several ways in which Fellows are evaluated. The National Albert Schweitzer Fellowship program evaluates all Fellows through an online survey at the beginning and end of the Fellowship year. Fellows are required to write monthly progress reports that track their hours and progress, as well as a Final narrative report that reflects on their experience, growth, and community impact. Fellows produce a poster presentation for the Fellowship’s closing event, The Celebration of Service. At the end of the year, we ask each site mentor to complete a short online survey to evaluate the Program, the Fellow, and community impact.
Q: Do the Fellows get school credit for their work?
A: Fellows do not receive any academic credit for their work. The Fellowship program is “in addition” to their already busy schedules and they are not allowed to count their project hours toward any school requirement (class credit, internships, etc.). After successful completion of the Fellowship year, Fellows join a national network of Fellows for Life.
Q: What else do the Fellows do?
A: Fellows attend monthly meetings, at which they share ideas and information about their projects, help each other overcome barriers- known as boulders among ASF community, and explore health topics or community service skills in depth. These meetings give Fellows a chance to get to know and network with an interdisciplinary-inter-institutional group of like-minded individuals with shared values which is often a motivation for joining the Program.
For more information, please contact:
Karen A. Spiller, Program Director, The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship
Mail: 330 Brookline Avenue (BR) Boston, MA 02215
Office: 133 Brookline Avenue, 2nd floor, Boston, MA 02215