Fellowship FAQs

We hope these answer all of your questions. If not, please feel free to email Helen Bennett.

When does the Fellowship begin?
The Fellowship begins each year with the Orientation Retreat in late August. Most Fellows will begin working at their placements immediately after the retreat. However, some may arrange to begin working earlier in the summer.

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What is the difference between early and regular selection?
In order to become a member of the Fellowship class, applicants need to both be accepted into the Fellowship program and obtain a job in an approved placement organization. The early selection process allows applicants complete the first step in this process earlier in the year, giving them more time to find an organizing job before the start of the Fellowship. Candidates who are accepted into the Fellowship during early selection will be encouraged to pursue job leads throughout the winter and spring and JOIN for Justice will support them through the job hunt whenever possible, including sending information about placements that we have arranged. If accepted candidates have not obtained a job by June, they are welcome to attend the Matching Event to pursue further opportunities.

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What If I want to apply, but I will be unable to attend the interview event and matching events?
You will not be disqualified from consideration for the JOIN Fellowship if you cannot attend the selection and matching events. Every year, we have applicants who are living abroad or who are otherwise unavoidably unavailable for these events. Although we consider the interview and matching events required, we will make exceptions when a candidate’s travel to the events is truly unfeasible due to emergency or other significant reasons. In these cases, we arrange for a second phone interview or web conference with the candidate.

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For whom do I work?
Fellows work for social change organizations that engage in a wide range of organizing models – interfaith or broad-based organizations, labor unions, neighborhood organizations, community development corporations, issue-based organizations, and others. These organizations address a wide range of social justice issues – housing, children’s rights, anti-discrimination, immigrant rights, health care, to name just a few – but their work includes a common goal: to build power for people who are directly affected by the issues they address. Fellows find placement organizations through the Matching process (see Interview Process), by finding organizing jobs on their own, and by coming to the Fellowship with their current organizing job.

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How do you choose placement organizations?
We  look for partner organizations that will provide excellent opportunities for the emerging organizers who participate in our Fellowship to gain experience in community organizing. These criteria were developed to ensure that organizations that partner with the Fellowship will provide a supportive and challenging working environment for their Fellow, and that, in turn, our training curriculum will be most relevant to their organizational needs.

Placement organizations must demonstrate that they meet at least three of the five following criteria:

  1. The supervisor of the Fellow has significant organizing experience and/or is currently an organizer and takes primary responsibility for the development of the Fellow as an organizer.
  2. There is a demonstrated organizational commitment to organizing as a method used for social change.
  3. The Fellow’s work has a significant component of in-person recruitment and training of leaders.
  4. The Fellow plays a key role in a project or campaign the organization is undertaking.
  5. The project or campaign the Fellow works on is something that builds towards a measurable social justice goal in the outside world.

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What do you mean by “community organizing” and “social justice?”
Community organizing means developing leaders and bringing people together to form powerful organizations that allow people to act on their own behalf to make systemic changes in their lives. Community organizers are people who want to stir things up to motivate people to act for change, who embrace challenge, and who think strategically about power.

Working for social justice means to seek systems-level change, to address social problems at their roots. We believe that justice would mean having sustainable, enduing, and equitable solutions to issues such as the environment, health care, education, housing, employment, and many others.

The organizations where Fellows work vary in the methods they use in their quest for justice. While our curriculum emphasizes relationship building, leadership development and organization building, the organizations where the fellows work do this in a wide variety of ways. We do not think that any one method of organizing for justice is perfect or the right way. Rather, we think that exposure to a number of methods, and reflection on their effectiveness is a good way to learn how to effectively organize for justice. This work always needs to be refined and re-defined, especially as conditions and generations change.

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What is the salary?
The salary varies. Some people have or find their own organizing jobs, and if accepted, join the program. In these cases, their salary is completely determined by them. For organizations that want referrals of applicants and hope to hire a Fellow, we will require that they pay between $28,000- $35,000 per year plus individual health insurance. However, the actual terms of employment will be negotiated solely between the fellow and the organization.

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Friday Sessions
These sessions are the “glue” of the Fellowship program. In general, Fellows learn together about social change, Jewish heritage, and community organizing. The sessions draw on both Jewish and non-Jewish texts, and connect fellows with JOIN’s inspiring network of trainers (community organizers and Jewish leaders). In addition, they provide a space for fellows to discuss their work and provide and receive support on specific issues.

Typical Fellowship Friday Session:
8:40 Arrive, get settled, schmooze
9:00 Case Study led by Co-Facilitator OR Open Space discussion
10:00 Training
12:00 Announcements, Evaluation, Key Learnings, Closing Song
12:30 Adjourn

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How do I find an organizing job?
We will be able to refer you to some jobs through our matching process. We also encourage you to apply to jobs on your own or join the Fellowship with a job you already have. All organizations, whether recruited by JOIN or identified by prospective fellows, must go through the Placement Application process.

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Will the Fellowship help me with my student loans?
JOIN is committed to making the fellowship accessible to people from all class and economic backgrounds. Fellows have generally been able to defer loans since they are part of an educational program, but this ultimately depends on the requirements of the loaning institution.

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Can I find my own job? What if I already have a job?
You can find your own job or come into the program while in your current job. To do this, both you and the organization have to apply and be accepted to be part of the program. For more information on how potential placement organizations can apply, click here. If you are accepted as a finalist in the Fellowship, and your organization does not meet our requirements, you are still eligible to participate in our matching process to try to find another placement.

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Where do the Fellows work?
The group of placements changes each year. In the past Fellows have worked at places such the following Greater Boston area organizations:

  • Allston Brighton Community Development Corporation
  • Boston Youth Organizing Project
  • Cambridge Economic Opportunity Committee
  • Community Action Agency of Somerville
  • The Citywide Educational Coalition
  • The Food Project
  • The Haitian Coalition (Somerville, MA)
  • Harvard Union of Technical and Clerical Workers
  • The Hotel and Restaurant Workers Union, Local 26
  • The Irish Immigration Center
  • The Jewish Labor Committee
  • Health Care for All
  • Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston (Boston, MA)
  • Keshet: making the Boston Jewish community welcoming to gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender Jews
  • Mass NARAL
  • Mass. Senior Action
  • Massachusetts AFL-CIO (Boston, MA)
  • MICAH: Metropolitan Interfaith Communities Acting for Hope
  • National Organization of Women, Boston chapter
  • Neighbor to Neighbor
  • Parents United for Child Care
  • ROCA, Inc (a youth organization in Chelsea, MA)
  • Rosie’s Place
  • Service Employees International Union, Local 509
  • State Health Care and Research Employees/AFSCME (Worcester Memorial Hospital Union, Worcester, MA)
  • Somerville Community Corporation
  • Stand for Children
  • The Tax Equity Alliance of Mass.
  • Twin Cities Community Development Corporation (in Fitchburg and Leominster, MA)
  • The Welcome Project (at the Mystic Public Housing Development in Somerville, MA)
  • The Workmen’s Circle
  • Young Democrats of Mass
  • United for a Fair Economy
  • United Interfaith Action
  • Youth Force, a program of Dorchester Bay Economic Development Corporation

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How often does the group meet?
The Fellowship years starts with a week-long Orientation retreat to build community within the group, and to orient the fellows to JOIN and our approach to organizing and Jewish pluralistic community. We then meet for weekly, intensive training, reflection, and community building sessions. Additionally, there are 3 long weekend retreats throughout the year, as well as a fundraising project and a recruitment requirement that will necessitate additional time. Please check out the JOIN Curriculum.

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What about other resources?
For every fellow who is interested, JOIN connects fellows to an alumnus of the program who serves as a peer mentor, or Buddy, to the fellow. JOIN also works to find other volunteer advisers, resource people and potential mentors for fellows. These are generally older community organizers, activists, non profit leaders, Jewish educators and others. Additionally, JOIN works to help fellows connect to local opportunities for progressive and Jewish community, learning, and action.

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What else do I have to do?
As organizers, Fellows need to learn recruitment skills: how to both identify the values and self-interest of others, and how to get people to act.

We require fellows to participate in recruitment, and challenge each Fellow to recruit 3 applicants to the Fellowship program for the coming year. This can be done through social, campus and professional networks.

We may also ask that each Fellow makes a short presentation or has a speaking engagement with his/her hometown Jewish community or synagogue, or a comparable audience. This not only contributes to fellowship recruitment efforts and builds our organizational base, but it also provides Fellows with opportunities to practice the critical storytelling skills they will be working on during the program year.

As organizers and social justice leaders, Fellows also need to learn development skills and how to organize money. These skills are essential for anyone who wants to work for social change in the long term.

Each Fellow must raise at least $1,000 by the end of the Fellowship year, using the methods of development (fundraising that helps to build a sustainable relationship between the donor and the organization). Fellows will be asked to participate in a development project, working hand in hand with staff and other fellows to connect with existing JOIN supporters and to cultivate new ones. This work will largely take place outside of the weekly sessions.

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What about the Fellowship alumni?
JOIN has an opt-in alumni mentor program, where we pair Boston-based alumni with current fellows to serve as coaches and mentors over the course of the fellows’ year. More informally, we have an active alumni network in Boston and beyond that can help orient current fellows to the Fellowship, to the world and work of organizing and to the Boston community. A number of alumni are available to tell you about the program before you apply, or to help you decide if the Fellowship is right for you. Call the office for more information about how to contact them. JOIN networks are also very helpful to our graduates who are looking for jobs in the world of social justice.

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What if I am looking to make a longer than one year commitment to a job?
Some organizations are especially interested in fellows who would consider making an organizational commitment beyond the 1-year fellowship program. You are welcome to bring this up at the interview if the supervisor does not; many fellows and placements wait several months to see if it’s a good fit before discussing continued employment. A significant percentage of fellows stay on in their jobs for another year or more, generally at a salary commensurate with other staff, and some organizations may be looking for this longer commitment.

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Do I need a car?
Generally, a car is not required. However, organizing is not a desk job, and some jobs will prefer that their staff organizer be very mobile. If an organization requires a car, they will make this clear to potential employees early on in the process. Most organizations reimburse for mileage.

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What if I’m not a U.S. citizen?
It is difficult, but not impossible, to join the Fellowship if you are not a US citizen. In the past, Fellows have come from Bulgaria, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico and Israel. But it has been hard, and often expensive. For example, two former fellows had to pay a special US organization to work through the immigration bureaucracy to get a valid work visa. For more information, please contact the JOIN office.

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How “Jewish” do you have to be in the Fellowship?
JOIN embraces Jewish pluralism as a core value of our community. Our program is for people who identify as Jewish and who are looking for an opportunity to experience many approaches to Judaism – from traditional to secular — through their relationships with other fellows and the shared experience of the group.
In the words of an Alum:

While JOI[N] does incorporate a religious element, it does so in a way that respects the beliefs of all. In fact, it is up to the Fellows to choose how much religion should be incorporated into their Fellowship. My year featured a Fellow who didn’t believe in God and one that wanted to become a rabbi. Yet we got along and were able to craft Shabbat services that respected and made everyone feel comfortable.

Ultimately, JOI[N] realizes that being Jewish has a different meaning for every person. Differing traditions and viewpoints are not only welcome, but encouraged. So, don’t worry. JOI[N] has something to offer for every type of Jew. Oh, and I forgot to mention that it was one of the best and most meaningful experiences of my life.

–Aron Israelite
JOIN 2004-2005

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