NU Public Interest Program

Building a Network of Engaged Citizens to Inspire Change

FAQs – Community Partners

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q. What is the financial commitment to host an NUPIP Fellow? When and how is the stipend or salary paid?

A. Host organizations pay a modest stipend or salary to the Fellow, typically $40,000–$50,000 plus basic benefits, as well as a placement and professional development fee of $1,500 to NUPIP.

Current salaries range from a minimum of $37,500 up to $52,500 or more for a 12-month term. The salary range is set by NUPIP each year according to living wage metrics and an analysis of comparable programs and positions. The specific stipend or salary amount is set by the organization, and can be prorated for a 9, 10, or 11-month term. Organizations are expected to offer a stipend or salary consistent with other entry-level full-time paid staff positions at their organization. Organizations may wish to offer a higher stipend or salary to attract top candidates; some organizations offer well over $50,000. Organizations that hire Fellows year after year should offer a modest increase in the stipend or salary each year.

Fellows are typically selected, hired, and paid by the organization directly. Depending on the organization, the position may be set up as contract, temporary, or permanent, may be hourly or salaried, and may be paid biweekly or monthly, on the organization’s regular pay schedule. The exact stipend or salary amount is negotiated directly between the organization and the Fellow, and should be outlined in the position offer as well as in the NUPIP Agreement, which is signed by the organization and the Fellow as a final step in the placement process.

In rare cases, where an organization cannot select or hire a Fellow directly, NUPIP may be able to work with the organization to arrange for Northwestern to select and/or employ the Fellow, with funding from the organization. Contact us to determine whether this might be a possibility. Note this arrangement is subject to additional placement and position management fees.

Q. What is expected in terms of health insurance coverage, paid time off, and other benefits?
A. Organizations are expected to offer a benefits package consistent with other entry-level full-time paid staff positions at their organization.

At a minimum, organizations are expected to offer basic health insurance coverage; organizations unable to offer health insurance must offer an additional stipend (beyond the base salary or stipend amount) for the Fellow to purchase individual health insurance if needed. Organizations are also expected to offer paid time off – at a minimum, sick leave consistent with Chicago and Cook County ordinances, as well as holidays, personal days, and vacation days consistent with other entry-level full-time paid staff positions at their organization.

Ancillary benefits such as dental and vision insurance, flexible spending accounts, life insurance, short- and long-term disability, retirement benefits, transit benefits, tuition benefits or professional development funds, etc. are welcome though not required.

The benefits package is negotiated directly between the organization and the Fellow, and should be outlined in the position offer as well as in the NUPIP Agreement, which is signed by the organization and the Fellow as a final step in the placement process.

Q. What does the placement and professional development fee support? When is it paid?
A. The placement and professional development fee supports the candidate recruitment, screening, and matching process; professional development seminars and the professional mentorship program for the Fellow; networking and community building activities for the Fellow and host organization; ongoing support and advising for the Fellow and host organization throughout the fellowship year; and membership in the NUPIP community. All of these components are designed to ensure that Fellows develop professionally and personally, and that partner organizations benefit from meaningful contributions from their Fellow and through their own involvement with the program.

This $1,500 fee is per Fellow and is paid directly to NUPIP after a Fellow is successfully placed at the organization. There is no charge if a successful match is not made.

Q. What is the time commitment required of Fellows to participate in NUPIP programming, especially during the work day?
A. The primary time commitment for Fellows outside of their placement is participation in a series of professional development seminars. Seminars offer an introduction to the public interest sector, as well as skill development, career development, and opportunities for reflection and community building, and are an important component of the NUPIP program. Seminars are typically two-hour sessions held 2–3 times per month from September through June at organizations throughout Chicago, commonly on two weekday mornings and one weekday evening. Organizations are expected to permit Fellows to attend all NUPIP seminars, as part of their work schedule and responsibilities. Of course, we understand that conflicts will arise from time to time; as a result, Fellows are only required to attend 2 out of 3 seminars per month.

Fellows also participate in a professional mentorship program as well as networking and community building activities. Those activities can typically be scheduled outside of work hours, though organizations are encouraged to offer flexibility when needed, in order to support Fellows’ ability to participate in those components of the program as well.

Q. What is the time commitment required of organizations to host a Fellow? Are organizations invited or required to participate in any NUPIP programming?
A. Organizations must identify a primary supervisor for the Fellow, who can offer training, supervision, and feedback, and support the Fellow’s learning and growth throughout the fellowship term. Supervisors and other host organization contacts are also asked to be proactive and responsive in communication with NUPIP staff, and to participate in periodic check-ins with NUPIP staff and evaluations of the Fellow and program, as requested.

Supervisors and host organization contacts are also invited and encouraged – but not required – to attend professional development and networking events, and to participate in the broader community of Fellows, alumni, supervisors, mentors, faculty, community partners, other University affiliates.

Supervisors and host organization contacts interested in getting further involved with the program can host or present a seminar, serve as a mentor to a Fellow outside the organization, help recruit other host organizations, mentors, seminar presenters, and more, in order to deepen their connection with NUPIP and broaden their reach in the community.

Q. When do Fellowship positions begin? How long do they last?
NUPIP operates on an academic-year cycle. Fellowships typically start between late June and early September, though July and August are most common. A full 12-month term is most common, but Fellowships can last between 9–12 months. Most NUPIP programming takes place between September and June. Contact us to explore whether we can accommodate a placement outside those parameters.

Q. When does the hiring process take place, and how long does it last? Why are there multiple rounds of matching, and which round should I choose?
NUPIP typically conducts at least three rounds of the matching process during which organizations can review and select candidates: an early round (early February to mid-March), a regular round (mid-March to early May), a late round (early May to mid-June), and sometimes a final round (mid-June to early August, if there are candidates and positions remaining).

To participate in any given round, an organization should have their proposal in at least two weeks before the start of the round, expect to receive candidate application materials at the start of the round, and be expected to make a hiring decision and position offer by the end of the round. Each round lasts approximately 6–8 weeks; organizations must be able to review and interview candidates, select a candidate, and make a position offer within that timeframe.

Organizations self-select into the round that works best for them based on their desired hiring timeline, when the position would receive budget approval, the candidates they are seeking, etc. Organizations with flexible timelines can also allow NUPIP staff to suggest the best timeframe for the position and candidate pool. Generally:

  • The first (early) round (early February to mid-March) is recommended for organizations with a firm hiring timeline, organizations interested in or willing to participate in multiple rounds of the matching process, or organizations seeking candidates with specialized skills (such as advanced data analysis) who might otherwise accept positions outside NUPIP earlier in the year.
  • The second (regular) round (mid-March to early May) is recommended for most organizations. Due to our internal candidate selection process and timeline, the second round typically allows organizations to draw from the largest and most diverse candidate pool.
  • The third (late) or fourth (final) rounds (early May to mid-June and mid-June to early August, if available) are recommended for organizations that learn about the program later in the year, are unable to hire sooner due to budgetary approval or other constraints, or were unable to secure a successful match earlier in the process.

Q. How can I attract the most competitive candidates within the NUPIP pool?
Organizations are encouraged to draft their Host Organization Proposals with an eye to attracting prospective candidates, as candidates have the opportunity to review many of those details as they are matched and decide to apply, and may consider them again as they decide whether to accept a position offer. The position title, a clear and detailed position description, and a thoughtful articulation of ways the Fellow can learn and grow in the position can all be important factors candidates may consider. Of course, organizations are also encouraged to offer as competitive a salary and benefits package as they are able, in order to attract candidates who may be considering multiple opportunities inside or outside the NUPIP process.

Q. What happens after I complete a Host Organization Proposal? Am I guaranteed candidates? Am I required to hire a Fellow once I apply?
A. After the organization completes the Host Organization Proposal, NUPIP staff will review the proposal and contact the organization with questions or for further information if needed. Assuming the proposal meets all requirements, NUPIP staff will accept the proposal into a specific round of matching, and send along additional details about the hiring process and timeline for that round.

NUPIP aims to provide at least three candidates for each position, that our staff has determined to be the best fit from within our candidate pool. The specific number of candidates may vary depending on the organization and position, necessary qualifications, that year’s candidate pool, and the point in the hiring process. Organizations vet those candidates according to their preferred process, which may consist of one or more rounds of interviews or other activities, then select their final candidate(s) and make their position offer(s).

All NUPIP candidates are rigorously vetted by our Selection Team, and we are confident that each candidate has the skills and experience to make a significant contribution to any of our partner organizations. Organizations are expected to carefully consider all NUPIP candidates, and are encouraged to interview at least three candidates per position, but are under no obligation to extend an offer. Organizations that do not receive approval or funding for the position, fill the position through other means, or are unable to find an appropriate candidate fit are not required to hire an NUPIP Fellow.

Q. Can I hire more than one Fellow?
A. Yes! Organizations can hire multiple Fellows, in the same or different roles, as long as the organization can offer substantive, meaningful work and active supervision and support for each Fellow. Organizations looking to hire Fellows for multiple positions can complete the Host Organization Proposal multiple times, or complete the form once with information applicable to all positions, and email with information that varies by position. Note the stipend and placement and professional development fee is per Fellow placed.

Q. Can the Fellow stay at my organization or in their position beyond one year?
A. Yes! When there is a good mutual match, many organizations choose to offer their Fellow the opportunity to stay in the position for a second year, or hire the Fellow on to a permanent position within the organization. As many as 40% of Fellows in each class stay or are invited to stay at their organizations beyond the initial one-year term. Organizations interested in retaining a Fellow for more than one year are encouraged to discuss that possibility with prospective candidates during the interview process. Fellows continuing in their positions do not participate in formal professional development or mentorship programming beyond the first year, though they are encouraged to remain active members of the NUPIP alumni community. Organizations retaining their Fellows beyond the first year are not required to pay additional placement or professional development fees.

Q. What happens if my expectations of the Fellow are not met?
A. Supervisors or organizations with concerns about a Fellow’s job performance, workplace conduct, or other issues are encouraged to first address those issues with the Fellow directly. As most of our Fellows are in their first full-time jobs, clear expectations, specific feedback, and ongoing support and coaching are often needed to help fellows achieve the highest level of performance. In addition, NUPIP staff are always available to support organizations, supervisors, and Fellows in navigating any issues or concerns. Except in the most unusual circumstances, we expect both parties to fulfill their commitment to NUPIP through the end of the Fellowship term, and are committed to working with both parties to help ensure a successful experience with the program.

If you have any further questions about hosting an NUPIP Fellow, please contact us at