American India Foundation Banyan Impact Fellowship
For 20 years the American India Foundation (AIF) has been sending a cohort of dedicated young people on the journey of a lifetime. A journey that makes as profound an impact on the people they work with and learn from, as it does on themselves. In these decades, an exchange has been happening between the people of the world’s largest democracies in order to foster civic engagement and forward positive change on all who take part in it.
For U.S. Fellows, AIF provides a roundtrip ticket from their point of origin to India, along with insurance coverage, emergency support, and a monthly living stipend. For Indian Fellows, AIF provides domestic travel from their hometowns in India, insurance coverage, emergency support, and a monthly living stipend. Please note that the stipend is not a salary, but a living allowance designed to enable Fellows to volunteer in India. The stipend covers basic living expenses such as rent, meals and incidentals, and local transportation related to a Fellow’s project.
In the spirit of service, the stipend is designed to afford Fellows a local lifestyle comparable to that of local staff at their host organizations. Fellows should expect to live safely but modestly, and may need to adjust to a different style of living and spending habits than what they are accustomed to.
The stipend does not cover for personal entertainment, non-program related travel, luxury items, or alcoholic beverages. Candidates should plan on bringing additional funds to allow for personal travel and other non-essential items. The amount will depend entirely on a Fellow’s personal spending habits.
- Be a U.S. or Indian citizen, or a U.S. permanent resident
- Be between the ages of 21 and 35 at the start of the program
- Have completed a Bachelor’s degree (or higher) before the start of the program
Fellows are expected to complete the following during their service in India:
- Meeting or exceeding expectations of the Fellowship, including upholding their commitment to AIF and their host organization
- Participation at Orientation, Midpoint, and Endpoint, and other program related events
- Adherence to the policies and agreements between Fellow, AIF and partner organizations
- Full completion of the Fellowship program
- Timely submission of monthly and quarterly reports and other program deliverables
- Contribution of regular posts on the AIF Blog
- Prompt settlement of finances and logistical items throughout the Fellowship
- Completion of end of service documents and presentations
All Fellows are expected to complete the full program, while upholding basic values and principles of trust, honesty, and integrity. Fellows are expected to embrace and engage with multiple challenges, and take a lot of initiative in the structuring and completion of their projects. Fellows must abide by host organization work calendars and work complete workweeks in accordance with organizational policy and procedure, which in India commonly involves working on Saturdays.
Candidates should demonstrate a deep interest, passion, and commitment to social and economic development in India. Candidates must show humility and an eagerness to learn within a cross-cultural context. Ideal candidates possess strong professional skills, relevant volunteer or other practical experience, and applicable academic credentials or training. They show a potential for leadership and are entrepreneurial, innovative, and creative in finding solutions and navigating unknown environments.
Candidates must be flexible and adaptable, and possess exceptional ability to build meaningful relationships across cultures in the social development space. A sensitivity and ability to work with vulnerable communities, as well as the humility and passion to “learn by doing” is essential.
Although proficiency in an Indian language is not required to apply, it is highly desirable. The full FAQ can be found here: https://aif.org/fellowship/faq/#collapse103
The AIF Fellowship is highly competitive, with a selection rate of approximately 7%. The selection process takes place between January and April, with in-person interviews being conducted in March.
After review of online applications, selected applicants will be longlisted, and invited for in-person interviews. Interviews will be held in select locations in the United States and India. After the completion of interviews, AIF will notifythe shortlist for the Fellowship and open the project application portal. Finalists on the shortlist have the opportunity to apply for up to threeprojects with AIF partner organizations. AIF and its partner organizations will interview candidates for each position, and will make final Fellowship offers based on the best possible matches for the project. Once the matching process is complete, and the candidate offered a position with a project, they will officiallybe admitted into the Fellowship program in April.