The CBCF Congressional Fellows Program was created in 1976 in order to increase the number of African Americans working as professional staff in the U.S. Congress. The Congressional Fellows Program offers public policy training to young professionals by providing them with an opportunity to work on Capitol Hill.
Part of the CBCF Congressional Fellows Program, The Donald M. Payne Foreign Policy Fellows Program is a 20‐month policy training and leadership development program which targets early‐career policy professionals who are committed to advancing positive global change. The Donald M. Payne Fellow will have the opportunity to work in the office of a CBC Member in addition to serving on a congressional committee to gain exposure to U.S. and international policy debates.
CBCF Fellows work in congressional member and committee offices, attend leadership development seminars, complete a community service project and produce policy papers. During the first-year office placement, Fellows gain invaluable experience as they assist in the development of legislative and public policy initiatives in CBC Member Offices. Fellows work 40 hours per week on a range of staff assignments, including legislative analysis, responding to constituent mail, drafting talking points and speeches for members, and coordinating logistics and public testimony for Congressional hearings. During the second half of the program, fellows transition to a congressional committee. The committee placement complements their experience in a member’s office and provides the fellows with a full view of the legislative process.
Fellows also have educational enrichment opportunities through seminars on policy and politics. These seminars explore hot-button policy issues, the politics of policymaking and policy implementation, and evaluation of policy already implemented. As a cohort, the Fellows develop and implement a community service project. Fellows are also exposed to the history and work of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), and prepared to analyze the impact of policies on African Americans and other minority groups.
The Fellow will gain extensive exposure to lawmakers and policy professionals dedicated to formulating and implementing global policy ranging from food security, equitable education access, combating preventable diseases, promoting gender equality to addressing climate change and other major global issues.
Selection as a CBCF Fellow is based on a combination of the following criteria:
All of these qualities combined with strong writing skills, adaptability, and demeanor are taken into consideration when selecting a class of CBCF Fellows. Some other considerations are whether the program seems to be a good match for applicant’s stated professional goals and objectives and evidence of commitment to studying the impact of policy on African Americans and minorities.
CBCF seeks to create fellowship classes that bring together individuals who represent a diversity of policy-focused areas, in order to complement and enrich the experience of all program participants.
Fellows are selected in a nationwide competition. Typically, CBCF accepts less than 10 percent of those who apply. While the number of fellowships depends upon funding, CBCF usually offers six to nine fellowships per year. Preference is given to individuals with expertise in areas that support CBC Members’ policy agendas.
Applications are submitted to CBCF and reviewed by a selection committee comprised of CBCF staff, congressional staff, and other stakeholders. CBCF staff conducts the initial review of applications and selects the strongest applicants to become semi-finalists. The semi-finalist applications are forwarded to a full committee that includes experts in the semi-finalists' policy areas. The committee interviews semi-finalists in person or by phone. The finalists are selected and notified by CBCF.
The completed online application must be submitted by midnight on the deadline date. The additional required materials must be received by our office by the close of business (5.pm.m EST) on the deadline date. The following items will be requested through the online application:
Additional Required Materials
All the above documents should be submitted through the online application. The following document should be mailed to the organization. We must receive this document before the deadline passes:
Official transcripts should be mailed to the following address:
CBCF Donald M. Payne Foreign Policy Fellows Program
Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc.
1720 Massachusetts Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20036
All Fellows must be able to participate for the full term of the program. If selected, applicants are expected to complete all professional qualifying exams, for example, bar exams and medical boards, dissertation defenses and comprehensive exams before the fellowship or defer until the end of the fellowship. Participants in the Congressional Fellows Program must reside in or relocate to the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. Fellows are paid an annual salary of $40,000, with benefits. Fellows are responsible for their own travel, housing and other associated expenses.