Information for Communities interested in becoming a Rural Prosperity Nebraska Fellows.

We select communities through an application and interview process. As part of the application process, communities must identify:

  1. Projects the Fellows can work on
  2. Support staff to manage the projects and Fellows
  3. Funding for the seven weeks (approximately $12,000—$5,000 per student and $2,000 for housing)

For questions or comments, contact

Funding and scholarships are currently available to new and returning communities that host Student Fellows.

Community Interest Application Community Application High School Student Application

Through their projects, Rural Fellows help communities solve problems, address pressing issues, and build on each town’s unique assets. The work pays off—recent economic analysis indicates that, on average, participating communities realized an economic impact of over $15,000 by hosting Fellows. In addition, student and community Fellows gain valuable diversity experience, develop inclusive leadership skills, and build connections throughout the state.

In addition to university students, host communities also have the opportunity to bring on local high school student interns. For their volunteer service, these students will receive a $1,000 scholarship to the university’s CASNR program.

To better prepare students and communities for the Rural Fellowship program, all selected student and community Fellows receive training by Dr. Helen Fagan, RPN’s diversity and inclusion researcher and consultant, and her team. The interactive and transformational training focuses on inclusive leadership, team building, and community development.

Additionally, students and community Fellows receive the following:

  • Individualized coaching by qualified coaches throughout the summer
  • Guidance and a community visit from RPN staff
  • Numerous connections to experts across the NU system
By working closely with research faculty from across the NU system, students connect the university’s intellectual capital with communities in every corner of the state.
Details About Being a Host Community

Rural Fellows is designed to connect college students to rural Nebraska communities. Student pairs move into the rural community for a seven-week period during the summer and complete community-identified projects. (In some cases, Communities of Practice host Fellows virtually.) Past projects have ranged in areas from economic development, workforce development, tourism, community planning, education, mental health, and more.

Research has demonstrated that, like the rest of the country, Nebraska is becoming more diverse. Therefore, in 2019, this program was elevated to become a Fellows opportunity focusing on building the inclusive leadership capacities of community leaders (Community Fellows) as well as the student Fellows placed in those communities. Inclusive leaders bring diverse groups together to innovate and accomplish goals that enhance the lives of all community participants.

Prior to arriving in the community, student and Community Fellows participate in a brief training and development program that enhances the leader/student team’s ability to work together. One Community Fellow stated, “This is the best onboarding I’ve ever been involved in. Our team was able to hit the ground running from day one, which is why we accomplished so much more than we could have dreamt possible.”

Training and Development


An online, asynchronous series of lessons for student and Community Fellows to be completed at your own pace over a two-week period. Total time is approximately eight to 10 hours. Topics include inclusive leadership, strengths, entrepreneurship, community building and more.


A synchronous interactive team-building experience for students and Community Fellows. Academy is scheduled in Mid-to-late May. More information will follow in the new year. Upon completion of Academy, students move to their placement community to live, work and serve.

Leadership Coaching

Both student and Community Fellows will have the opportunity to engage in leadership coaching sessions with certified coaches during this experience. These coaching sessions are provided free of charge.

Community Visit

At least once per summer, Dr. Helen Fagan and her team visit each community (either in-person or virtually) to evaluate success, assess goals, and provide support.

Public Presentations

Student and Community Fellows showcase their accomplishments and highlight their progress at the conclusion of the program with a public presentation. These presentations are coordinated through Rural Prosperity Nebraska’s main office, and participants are encouraged to utilize their public relations networks to maximize the impact and reach of their project accomplishments and participation in this program.

Community Commitment

By applying to host student Fellows, you will essentially bring on two new employees. With this comes the responsibility of day-to-day staff management. Student Fellows come to the program with varied levels of professional work experience, requiring varied levels of guidance in navigating projects and tasks in the workplace.

It is important to evaluate your capacity to assume this responsibility, among other obligations. As a Community Fellow, you and/or those who complete the Pre-Academy and Academy trainings have established a relationship with the student Fellows, and managing the student Fellows remains a commitment throughout the summer-long experience.

Cost & Application

Communities are responsible for funding their Student Fellows—a total of approximately $12,000 for the seven weeks ($5,000 per Fellow, plus $2,000 for housing). Completing the application ensures we match you with qualified students who share the same interests in community development and have the appropriate experiences to bring your projects to fruition.

the impact of THE rural fellowsHIP PROGRAM

Our Fellows make life better in your communities.

In 2020, after a COVID-19 condensed eight-week program, participating communities saw an average economic impact of $15,000.

Want to know more?

View the videos below to hear from Rural and Community Fellows about their projects and impact.