Capitol Correspondence - 12.17.19

Joseph P. Kennedy Foundation Announces Fellowships for People with Disabilities

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ANCOR is sharing this opportunity in case it is useful for our members who support people with disabilities in finding employment. As announced by the Joseph P. Kennedy Foundation:

“The Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Foundation is seeking exemplary professionals, and/or persons experiencing disability and/or family members of persons with intellectual or developmental disabilities who are currently working or volunteering in the field of inclusive services and supports for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  The Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Foundation Public Policy Fellowship is a one-year, full-time, intensive immersion experience in Washington, D.C. The purpose of the Fellowship is to prepare emerging leaders to assume leadership roles in the public policy arena at the state and/or national levels. During this one-year Fellowship, the successful applicant will learn how federal legislation is initiated, developed, and passed by the Congress, as well as how programs are administered and regulations promulgated by federal agencies.   Fellows also learn how the organized disability community works to shape public policy impacting people with disabilities, and their families.

Each year the Foundation brings talented and accomplished professionals, family members (many of whom are both professionals and family members) and persons experiencing disability to Washington, D.C. for a full year where they actively participate in public policy development in the offices of a Member of Congress, Congressional committees, or on rare occasions, federal agencies. Former Public Policy Fellows describe the Fellowship as a major turning point in their professional and personal lives.  The experience is a unique chance to understand the intersection of public policy, disability advocacy, and the political process.

The coming year promises to be a challenging opportunity to participate in the policy development process as there a Presidential and Congressional election in November, 2020. There are multiple issues before the 116th Congress and the new administration that impact people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, their families, communities and supportive organizations doing work with, and on behalf of, people with disabilities.  Key legislation may include The Higher Education Act, The ABLE Act, SSI reallocation and Work Incentives reform, Keeping All Students Safe Act, and many briefings and hearings, all impacting the quality of life for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and for their families.  Several of these issues may be resolved prior to the 116th Congress being seated.

Since its founding in 1946, the Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr.  Foundation has supported the creation of practical programs to benefit persons with intellectual disabilities, their families and their communities. The Foundation has always worked with national leaders who understand both the promise and realities of the U.S.’s system of government. The need for skilled leadership in both government and public policy advocacy has never been greater. In response to this need, the Foundation initiated the Public Policy Fellowship Program in 1980. Fellows receive first-hand knowledge and experience in the development of public policy and the opportunity to participate in an advocacy training workshop, national disability policy seminars and other learning opportunities.

The successful applicant’s background will include distinguished involvement in efforts to improve the lives of persons with intellectual and other developmental disabilities at the regional, state or national level.  Successful applicants will have demonstrated outstanding experience and accomplishment in at least one of the following areas:

1. State or national level advocacy for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families;

2. Health care, mental health care, employment, education, child care, child welfare, law, community organizing, housing or development of inclusive community supports and services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities;

4. Development of training programs for people with disabilities, families and communities and/or for the professionals who work with and for them;

5. Development or improvements of family support services, programs focused on increasing individual’s control of resources and decisions impacting their lives, technology in support of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and any other area of focus important to these Americans.

6. Enhancing the empowerment and influence of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities through organized efforts and programs.

The expectation is that fellows will become future leaders in the area of inclusive community supports for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  After their year in Washington, it is expected that former Kennedy Fellows will make significant contributions to policy and program development in their home state or another state, or continue to advance public policy on the national level.

The program provides a one-year full-time exposure to the federal public policy making process, and includes a stipend and modest relocation expenses. Selected fellows must be prepared to live in the Washington, DC area full-time during their fellowship year and to devote themselves full-time to the fellowship.


Application process and guidelines:

Applicants should submit a letter of application between 2 to no more than 4 pages in length, single spaced in 12-point font with 1 inch margins, stating their background and history in the field of services and supports to people with intellectual disabilities, interests and accomplishments to date, as well as what they hope to do with the knowledge and experience gained from the fellowship. They should also attach either a résumé detailing

their work and educational experience or a summary of their involvement in the field along with three letters of support from people familiar with their work. Applications should clearly show the candidate’s name, address, telephone number(s), and e-mail address on the first page.



The sole method of application, including letters of support and résumé submission is via an online system that can be found at


Hard copies will not be accepted!

Letters of support should also be via a PDF file or a word file. Please make sure that each letter clearly specifies the candidate for which the letter is being submitted.

The application deadline for 2020 is January 15, 2020 by 5:00 P.M. EST

The Fellowship starting date will be negotiated with the successful applicant (s). The Foundation fellowship (s) will be awarded for the period beginning as early as January and running for one year, with the actual schedule subject to negotiation between the successful applicant and the Foundation.

Finalists will be invited to Washington in late early 2020 to be interviewed by a distinguished panel of national Public Policy experts.

Should you have any questions please contact Steven M. Eidelman – [email protected]

The applications will only be accepted online at:

Address letters of application to:

Public Policy Fellowship

The Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Foundation

1133 19th Street NW, 1th Floor

Washington, DC 20036