Elsie Hillman Civic Forum

Elsie Hillman Honors Scholars Program

The goal of the Elsie Hillman Honors Scholars program is to inspire and support students to develop new knowledge and/or action on critical social, economic and political issues. 

The Elsie Hillman Honors Scholars Program connects motivated and creative students with community partners and a mentor in the Pittsburgh region for the purpose of developing original, student led civic engagement projects that explore and address issues important to the community partner and reflect the social commitment of Elsie Hillman.  

Through a structured and collaborative process, the student will work closely with the community agency and mentor to develop new knowledge and/or action in an area of civic engagement that the student feels passionately about. 

This service-learning fellowship program will incorporate several different learning goals and leadership development activities such as instruction on mindful leadership, examination of the “person in environment” philosophy, and an understanding of the various types of civic engagement. 

Who may apply for this fellowship?

The Elsie Scholars program is a competitive program that is open to full-time undergraduate students on the Oakland campus. Efforts will be made to recruit applicants with diverse backgrounds in terms of race and ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomic class. Preference is given to juniors and seniors. 

How do I apply?

Students apply online and participation is awarded on a competitive basis. Application requirements include: unofficial transcript, resume, and essay on your civic engagement interest. Students may also provide an optional letter of reference that speaks to their interest or previous work in the community or academic progress. Letters can be uploaded directly to the application or sent to Meredith Mavero, mlm72@pitt.edu. Note that this program runs for a full academic year. 

Application Due Date: April 15

What should be included in the civic engagement essay?

Your essay should include an introduction to the topic by providing the reader with a background on the issue and where you think more work is needed. Please elaborate WHY you are passionate about this area of interest and how you would like to see yourself grow in making a difference. Lastly, the essay should convey WHY the topic is important to our local or national community. Please let us know of any past work in this area, including faculty mentors or community organizations that were part of that work. We want to know what is in your head and your heart! 

Do Elsie Scholars receive financial support?

Selected students will receive hourly compensation in support of their time and effort committed to this training program. Students will receive approximately $400 per month, from September through April. Students will also receive $500 in resource funds to support any costs associated with the execution of their project. 

What will I be doing if I am selected as an Elsie Scholar and what is the time commitment?

Together, the student, mentor, and community agency will identify a priority area where new or additional action/research is needed. While the community partners will provide the area(s) of focus - the development and execution of the project will be student-led with regular guidance by the community agency and faculty mentor.

The Elise Scholars program follows a structured project development and implementation timeline (roadmap). The Elsie Hillman Civic Forum is committed to supporting the student both environmentally and academically so that they will be successful in producing outcomes that inform policy while increasing the community partner’s capacity to do it's work within the Pittsburgh region.

The Elsie Scholars will participate in a bi-weekly interdisciplinary seminar and/or mentorship meeting where the students will join their peers to report on their progress, receive instruction on mindful leadership, and examine the leadership qualities and character of Elsie Hillman. The Scholars program will culminate with a final publication and poster presentation to the Elsie Hillman Civic Forum Program Committee, Pitt faculty and students, and community partners. 

It is expected that the student will commit 10 -12 hours per week to the Scholars program. This commitment includes seminars, meetings with mentor, project development ,and scholarship. 

What is the focus area of the projects and/or research the student will be required to develop?

There are a broad variety of projects and/or action the student may develop in response to the community organizational need and priorities.  This is a collaborative process with site mentors and is an organic process that evolves over the first term. 

The Elsie Hillman Civic Forum supports projects in the following areas: If your area of interest is not represented please email us.

  • Income Inequity
  • Health Disparities
  • Food Insecurity
  • Transportation
  • Equity in Education
  • Immigration Reform
  • Housing
  • Job Training Programs Vs. College Education
  • Access to Quality Healthcare
  • Women’s Health and Reproductive Rights
  • LGBT Rights
  • Race and Politics
  • Policy Issues Affecting People with Disabilities
  • Environment

Can I choose the community agency I work with?

While interns cannot choose their sites, the Elsie Forum does match students to agencies that reflect their interests as reflected in their personal statements. 

The Elsie Hillman Civic Forum does accept and support applications from students that have an existing relationship with a community partner that they would like to continue to grow through the development of new research or community action project.