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Equality NC Foundation Rural Youth Empowerment Fellowship

Empowering Young LGBTQ Leaders in Rural North Carolina

Program Overview:

The Rural Youth Empowerment (RYE) Fellowship is a paid year-long skill-building and leadership development program for LGBTQ young people in rural areas of North Carolina. The program supports RYE Fellows to successfully execute a social justice project serving rural communities while developing skills in community organizing and nonprofit management.

Over the course of a year, a cohort of RYE Fellows will attend weekend leadership institutes in different locations throughout the state, build a meaningful relationship with Equality NC and attend organization events, participate in monthly cohort calls, work one-on-one with community mentors, and develop and implement a change-making project in their region. Fellows will receive a monthly living stipend, travel reimbursements, and access to funding for their independent projects.

The RYE Fellowship will meet online on a monthly basis, and Fellows will have opportunities to attend in-person gatherings several times throughout the year as COVID-19 precautions allow.

Applications for 2022-2023 RYE Fellowship

Selections for 2022-2023 RYE Fellows are closed. Please check back next year though!

In order to be eligible for the RYE Fellowship, you must be between the ages of 18 and 26, identify as LGBTQ+, currently live in North Carolina, and live in or have deep ties to a rural community. Fellows must be motivated and able to work independently. We are committed to cultivating a diverse cohort of fellows. As such, we especially welcome applicants from underrepresented backgrounds, including but not limited to: Black and brown folks, people with disabilities, DACA or undocumented folks, individuals from lower income backgrounds, first generation college/community college students and recent graduates, and/or people living with HIV/AIDS.

Questions? Check out the FAQ below. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, send us an email at brennan@equalitync.org.

Program Components

Equality NC‘s RYE Fellowship provides a cohort of young adult LGBTQ leaders in rural areas with the following resources and opportunities:

Leadership Institutes & Workshops

These workshops have two aims: 1) to educate Fellows on intersectional social justice and 2) to help Fellows acquire skills in community organizing and nonprofit management (i.e. grant writing, budget writing, event planning, etc.). Workshops will be led by ENC staff and representatives from partner organizations whose work incorporates an intersectional social justice lens.

Monthly cohort video calls

Fellows will participate in monthly cohort meetings to share progress on their individual projects, exchange ideas and suggestions, and receive additional guidance from Equality NC staff.

Mentoring from a community leader/organizer

Fellows will be paired with a mentor with expertise related to each fellow’s project. Mentors will provide ongoing support throughout the year, providing feedback on fellowship project components and connecting Fellows to professional networks. Fellows will also develop strong relationships with the broader ENC staff and access as-needed coaching from the ENC team.

Fellowship funding

As compensation for their time and participation in the program, Fellows will receive a monthly living stipend of $1,000.

Each Fellow will also receive funding to help with associated project costs which may include cost of supplies, printing, food for meetings, travel, etc. In addition to covering project costs, Equality NC also pays for Fellows’ transportation, accommodations, meals, and registration for each of the leadership institutes and all corresponding fellowship events. Fellows are responsible for maintaining expense records and providing receipts.

Professional Development

Fellows will have access to professional development opportunities and to serve as representatives of the organization alongside ENC staff members. Previous Fellow cohorts have attended the national Creating Change conference and traveled to Washington, D.C. to share their stories with their representatives in Congress. Fellows may also be invited to participate in conferences, meetings, or other events and storytelling opportunities that align with their personal and professional goals.

Additional opportunities

Throughout the year, Equality NC will invite Fellows to share their stories on social media and through ENC newsletters. Fellows will also have opportunities to attend major Equality NC events, such as the annual Gala and other large-scale gatherings.

Independent Projects

Equality NC staff and Fellowship mentors will work closely with each Fellow to support them in creating a community-based social justice project.

Examples of project focus areas may include, but are not limited to, access to healthcare, developing resources for rural communities (particularly Spanish-language resources), starting support/discussion groups, elections and voting rights, field organizing, combating substance abuse, domestic violence, high incarceration rates and the school-to-prison pipeline, engaging faith communities, organizing LGBTQ events (prides, film screenings, town hall meetings, etc.), K-12 school staff education, advocating for inclusive policies and laws, etc.

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