The CPL Equity Fellowship Program recruits top-tier students from all backgrounds who plan to devote their careers to understanding and dismantling barriers to equity across society. 

The CPL Equity Fellowship supports students across three different areas of focus:

  • the Black/African American community in the United States
  • the Latino community in the United States
  • marginalized populations

Students applying for this fellowship must indicate one area of focus they would like to pursue within the Equity Fellowship. 

Program Contact: Carlos Mark Vera

Download the Equity Fellowship one pager.

The Center for Public Leadership acknowledges the generosity of Josh and Anita Bekenstein, Clyde Tuggle, the Kenan Trust, and the Coca-Cola Foundation for their support of this program.

1. Apply for admission to Harvard Kennedy School (HKS). Please see the HKS admissions website for more information.

2. Apply to the CPL Equity Fellowship via the HKS financial aid portal, and check the box to select your specific equity-based area of focus (see focus areas above). Candidates should apply for only one area of focus.

3. Applicants for the Equity Fellowship must submit via the HKS financial aid portal:

  • A. A biographical profile, not to exceed 150 words. This profile should be short, concise and in the third person. Please include the following highlights: an introductory sentence including your name; the degree you are pursuing at Harvard Kennedy School in addition to any joint degree at Harvard or concurrent degree program at another graduate or professional institution; where you are from and where you currently reside; an overview and highlights of your relevant work/professional experience; significant leadership achievements including awards or certifications; and educational credentials with the degrees earned and institutions attended.
  • B. A document containing written responses to two essay prompts related to your experience, education, leadership capacity, and the fellowship:
    • a. Please discuss a topic you are passionate about as it pertains to reducing disparities within your focus area. Please include specific examples in your response. In the title of your essay, please clearly identify your focus area of choice.  (500 words or less)
    • b. Please describe how you want to both develop and contribute in your leadership as you navigate your time with HKS (200 words or less).

4. Applicants should submit the biographical profile, Fellowship essays, and the letters of recommendation from their HKS application through the financial aid portal by the financial aid deadline. 


Finalists for the CPL Equity Fellowship will be interviewed in late February or early March  by members of the CPL Equity Fellowship selection committee.

Upon admission to HKS, applicants will be notified if they are selected for the CPL Equity Fellowship. 


The fellowship provides:

  • Financial support toward a master’s degree program at Harvard Kennedy School
  • A comprehensive co-curricular program to augment your leadership development
  • A network of exceptional peers and mentors who will enhance your ability to impact the communities you serve


Recipients of the CPL Equity Fellowship will receive a need-based scholarship plus an annual living stipend for the course of their study at HKS. Financial support is only provided for the cost of attendance at HKS, joint or concurrent degree students will receive financial aid from the fellowship when HKS is their school in residence as determined by the financial aid office.


The fellowship is open to all newly-admitted degree program students at HKS. Students from all backgrounds are eligible; students from underrepresented groups are encouraged to apply.

Applicants will be considered based on their academic credentials and demonstrated leadership promise, interest, and work in reducing disparities in African American, Latino, and other underserved communities.


Fellows will participate in a yearlong co-curricular program designed by Harvard Kennedy School’s Center for Public Leadership. This not-for-credit program is intended to inspire, to provide concrete opportunities for leadership skill-building, and to connect fellows with an interdisciplinary network of like-minded peers and mentors that will last a lifetime. The fellowship co-curricular program includes dinner seminars, an annual retreat, and experiential learning grounded in discussions with visionary leaders whose work has had significant impact in the world. The program will also focus on strengthening the capacity for public leadership through reflection, mentorship, and skill building.

The Fellows create a vibrant network of students and alumni committed to advancing knowledge, collaborating on solutions to pressing problems affecting marginalized communities, and building leadership capacity in their communities, their nation, and the world.

Note: Before submitting your application, we expect that you have thoroughly reviewed all pertinent information related to the CPL Equity Fellowship, including but not limited to: program requirements, eligibility information, and the background and purpose of the fellowship. Being a CPL fellow carries with it certain responsibilities including maintenance of good academic standing as required by your degree program; attendance at all fellowship programming for the entire duration of the fellowship; leading program sessions and service activities; and responsible conduct in representing CPL and Harvard University. Please visit our Fellowship FAQs page for more information.

The Lisa Garcia Quiroz Graduate Fellowship provides funding for emerging student leaders who have demonstrated an interest in reducing disparities in U.S. Latino and other underserved communities. Founded in memory of Lisa Garcia Quiroz, this fellowship provides tuition support to students in the Equity Fellowship program who demonstrate strong commitment to the Latino community.