Robert Lee Ellis Civic Fellowship

Website: Ellis Civic Fellowship


Designed for incoming students and coordinated by the UW's Community Engagement and Leadership Education (CELE) Center, the Robert Lee Ellis Civic Fellowships offer financial, academic, and advising support to students throughout their 4-year undergraduate experience at the University of Washington.  Ellis Fellows are selected from among incoming students each autumn from incoming students who are eager to make a commitment toward service, personal leadership development, and community engagement.

Ellis Civic Fellowships can be understood as a series of building blocks, beginning in the first year with a broad overview of the Seattle community, moving into a service partnership with a community organization, developing deeper integration between each Civic Fellow’s academic work and service commitments, and culminating with a community-based capstone project.

The purpose of the Ellis Civic Fellowships is to support students in making a commitment to our community with core objectives including serving in the community; learning about yourself, the community, and the intersection of your academic study and community service work; and developing skills and experience in leadership, fellowship, and empathy.

Every Ellis Civic Fellow will be supported with individual mentoring and a flexible leadership curriculum as they move towards graduating as an Ellis Civic Leader.

  • Documented financial need as determined by the Financial Aid Office. Most students fill this requirement by filing a FAFSA or WAFSA for the current academic year. We also accept applications from those who are not eligible to file for federal or state financial aid but can document financial need.
  • Incoming student at the UW Seattle campus, with an anticipated graduation date a minimum of three years from your entry point. For the fall 2020 application cycle, this means a 2023 or beyond.
  • Committed to weaving public service and civic leadership development throughout your academic study at the University of Washington.


Successful fellows have been able to share the following interests in their application materials.  

  1. A clear commitment to service as shown through past experiences.
  2. An interest in a particular social issue.
  3. Ideas about future goals and what you hope to gain as an Ellis Fellow.
Student Type
  • freshman
Citizen Type
  • US Citizen
  • Permanent Resident
  • International or Other Visa Status
  • Undocumented

Applications for this year are due via email to by 11:59pm on September 24, 2020. (Deadline in is typically the week before UW classes begin.)  Further instructions and application prompts are detailed in the application form available at

Service Agreement

Expectations and Support:

Ellis Fellows receive $2,000 during their first year at the university, $3000 per year during their second and third years, and $4000 during their fourth year at the university. ($12,000 total during the four-year fellowship.) This is the expected disbursal pattern, but we also work individually with students to determine necessary modifications based on individual circumstances and graduation plans.   


Expectations for Ellis Fellows

All Four Years

  1. Draft a personal leadership development plan in coordination with CELE Fellowship advisors.
  2. Complete a minimum of 20 hours of service with a community organization each quarter you are enrolled at the UW—often done as part of a service-learning course or a structured community-based internship program.
  3. Integrate service with your academic experiences by seeking out service-learning or community based leadership courses during your first and second years. (Exact credit hours and courses will vary; you’ll receive advising and support in order to meet this requirement.)
  4. Participate in service and networking events including quarterly fellowship gathering, the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, and the annual Fellowship Celebration.
  5. Meet a minimum of twice a year with Carlson Center staff to discuss your progress through fellowship requirements.

Third and Fourth Year

  1. Identify a faculty and community mentor during your third year at the UW; as part of the process of identifying these mentors, you will conduct informational interviews with community and academic representatives in your anticipated career field.
  2. Engage in reflection on your own leadership development process by applying for and completing the Husky Leadership Certificate.
  3. During your fourth year as an Ellis Fellow, you will enact a personal service-based capstone project with support from CELE Fellowship advisors, community members, and faculty mentors. Regular capstone project updates and evidence of progress will be expected throughout the fourth year, culminating in a reflective capstone project presentation in the spring that completes your transition from Ellis Civic Fellow to Ellis Civic Leader.
Contact Information

Community Engagement and Leadership Education (CELE) Center
University of Washington
Center for Experiential Learning and Diversity
171 Mary Gates Hall, Box 352803
Seattle, WA 98195-2803