Willie L. Brown, Jr. Fellowship Program

The Willie L. Brown, Jr. Fellowship Program places students in prestigious semester-long internships in SF city and county agencies.

  • Applications are closed. Please check back early fall.
  • Email Jess Bank, Program Manager, for Fellowship inquiries at wbfellows@sfsu.edu.

For the Fall 2020 semester, undergraduate Fellows will:

  • Intern 16 hours/week at a city agency

  • Participate in a 3-hour, 3-unit weekly professional development seminar

  • Receive a $3,000 stipend

The Fellowship Experience

Photo: Willie Brown Fellowship Participants

How to Apply

Applicants are required to log in to Academic Works to fill out the application and provide support documents required through the Academic Works site.  Supporting documents include:
  • College transcripts.       
  • A personal statement of 1,000 to 1,500 words.  The statement should be a coherent essay that describes: (1) your academic and career goals, including fields of interest, (2) any hardships you have faced in life and how they have shaped your academic and career goals, (3) your background and/or interest in working in the public sector, (4) your strengths and skills, and (5) how participating in the Willie L. Brown Fellowship Program will help you attain your goals.
  • Name and email address of two references, one of which must be SF State Faculty. First-semester transfer students may use faculty references from previously attended institutions.

Eligibility Requirements

To become a Willie Brown Jr. Fellow, you must:
  • Be enrolled at SF State full-time
  • Have completed 60 units at the time of selection
  • Be a student in good standing (minimum 2.0 cumulative GPA)
  • Have an interest in a career in public service
  • Have faced hardships in pursuing a college degree (i.e. financial hardship, single parent, formally incarcerated, first generation student, homelessness)
  • Be available to intern 16 hours/week for 15 weeks during Fall 2020 at a city agency
  • Be available to attend the 3-unit seminar on Fridays, 9:30am--12:30pm in Fall 2020

About the Fellowship for Undergraduates

The Willie L. Brown, Jr. Fellowship program was launched in 2008. The fellowship provides SF State students who have faced barriers pursuing a college education with an opportunity to gain professional experience in the public sector while developing a lifelong commitment to public service. At the same time, the program provides San Francisco’s public agencies with a diverse, qualified and well-educated workforce.

About the Fellowship for Graduates

The Willie L. Brown, Jr. Graduate Fellowship program began January 2019 with our first cohort of two MPA students. Similar to the undergraduate program, the graduate fellowship provides SF State students who have faced barriers pursuing a college education with an opportunity to gain professional experience in the public sector while developing a lifelong commitment to public service. The Graduate Fellowship is a two-year program in which Fellows are responsible for substantive projects that help advance the mission of their city agency/program placement site. The first year is spent interning at their placement site. The second year focuses on presenting at a professional conference or submitting a paper to a professional journal. 

The Willie L. Brown, Jr. Fellowship provides an experiential learning opportunity in San Francisco city government. Fellows work two days a week as interns in high levels of the executive branch, legislative branch, and city agencies under the direct supervision of a seasoned professional. Fellows shadow their supervisors in policy meetings and participate alongside staff members on various policy initiatives. Fellows typically work on semester-long projects identified and agreed upon in collaboration with their direct supervisor. Fellows also spend one evening a week in a professional development seminar reflecting on the work they are doing, enhancing their professional knowledge, and refining their skills.

Quotes From Alumni

Photo: Saharai Poster

"The Willie L. Brown, Jr. Fellowship aided in my professional growth and inspired me to invoke on a journey of public servitude. Through the professional mentoring, and support of my peers I overcame my fears of my limitations and acknowledged that our stories empower us. The professional experience I gained has opened doors for me and for that I will be forever grateful. This fellowship allowed me to be part of a diverse group who will become the next resilient leaders to create social change in the world."

Saharai Salas-Osoria, Spring 2019
Fellowship Placement: San Francisco Public Defender's Juvenile Unit

Photo: Curtis Penn
“The Willie L. Brown, Jr. Fellowship provided me with an opportunity to participate in public policy discussions and reentry programming that equipped me to better serve and impact San Francisco’s reentry population. I was able to assist the Reentry Division to engage in a risk and needs assessment for homeless, mental health and AB 109 probation clients. The networking opportunities opened doors that would otherwise have been closed to me.”

Curtis Penn, Spring 2015
Fellowship Placement: San Francisco Adult Probation Department

Photo: Samantha Roxas
“Today, I have meaningful experience in public service work, confidence and professional skills, and a network of professional mentors to guide me through this journey. I am prepared to further my education and become part of the new generation of leadership for San Francisco. The Willie L. Brown Jr. Fellowship has helped make that possible.”

Samantha Roxas, Spring 2011
Fellowship Placement: Office of San Francisco Supervisor David Chiu


A Word from Mayor Brown

As Mayor of San Francisco, I saw firsthand how the dedicated professionalism of outstanding public servants ensures that the residents of San Francisco receive critical services. Recognizing the need for a well-educated, diverse, committed, and prepared workforce inspired me to create the Willie L. Brown Jr. Fellowship Program at my alma mater, San Francisco State University, in 2008.

San Francisco State’s mission is to graduate students to serve our city, and the university’s unwavering commitment to social justice and civic engagement aligns perfectly with my vision of recruiting and including students of diverse racial, cultural, and economic backgrounds. These students, like so many of SF State’s graduates, will become the city’s next teachers, social workers, nurses, planners, policy analysts, and public officials.

My hope is that the Willie L. Brown, Jr. Fellowship will inspire and prepare SF State students from all majors to pursue a career in public service. Local and regional governments need the innovators, thinkers, entrepreneurs, and well-trained workers that SF State graduates.

Willie L. Brown, Jr.
SF State Alumnus (class of 1955)
Former California State Assembly Member
41st Mayor of San Francisco


Contact Information

The School of Public Affairs & Civic Engagement
San Francisco State University
1600 Holloway Avenue, HSS 261
San Francisco, CA 94132