The John Lewis Young Leaders (JLYL) Program


Early March


The John Lewis Young Leaders program is a year-long fellowship that prepares college students for a future in community organizing and civic engagement. Throughout the academic year, fellows engage their campus and local communities in human rights work through a robust capstone project.

The John Lewis Young Leaders (JLYL) program looks for highly motivated students who are interested in making a career out of organizing work. These students should be self-starters and not afraid to go against the grain. Students should be able to see themselves as human rights defenders and be impact-minded. Most importantly, the program look for students who come from marginalized backgrounds and are most often targeted by systemic issues that do not afford them the opportunities and resources needed to become human rights advocates.


  • $2,000 professional stipend (paid in two $1,000 installments over the fall and spring semesters)
  • Agency to focus on elevating social issues that motivate and inspire YOU
  • $1,000 in funding for events and activities related to the completion of your capstone project
  • Access to content-rich resources from expert community organizers and activists
  • Paid-for retreat in summer 2024, location TBD

Eligibility criteria

  • An undergraduate student

  • Enrolled in a 2 or 4 year accredited program

  • Enrolled in a university located in the United States

  • Graduating on or after May 2025

Award requirements

  • Attend the 3-day JLYL retreat where you’ll participate in organizing workshops
  • Meet with RFK Human Rights staff monthly for 1-on-1 coaching
  • Attend all monthly cohort meetings held on the 2nd Monday of each month
  • Complete a capstone presentation with an overview of your capstone project at the conclusion of the fellowship

Application Process

Applicants will fill out and submit their application by heading to and clicking on "CLICK HERE TO BEGIN YOUR APPLICATION" link above the Eligibility criteria list. 


  • Social Justice

Eligible applicants

  • First-year Undergrads
  • Second-year Undergrads
  • Third-year Undergrads


  • Historically Excluded/Underrepresented

Citizenship status

  • US Citizen

For More Information

John Lewis Young Leaders program