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Student Fellowship

NARP Rail Passenger Advocacy Fellowship

Proposed by the Youth Involvement Task Force - December 2016

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General description: A yet to be determined number of undergraduate or graduate students will each be awarded an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, DC, in conjunction with the National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP) Spring 2017 Council and Membership Meeting. This Fellowship will include a number of hands-on learning experiences in public policy and administration focused on transportation issues, including opportunities to meet with members of Congress and their staffs and with staff at the US Department of Transportation, Amtrak, and various trade associations and interest groups concerned with passenger rail. The Fellowship will be geared towards students whose academic or career interests are in transportation, railroads, political science, public policy, public administration, urban and regional planning, and business or nonprofit/association management.

About NARP: NARP is the nation’s oldest and largest nonprofit association representing the users of passenger trains and rail transit throughout the United States. Founded in 1967 and celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2017, NARP seeks “A Connected America.” Our goals include the preservation and expansion of the national network of intercity passenger rail and connecting regional rail and transit networks to the point where 80% of Americans live within a half mile of a passenger rail station. NARP also seeks the construction and opening of at least one world-class high speed rail line in the United States and enhanced connectivity between passenger trains and all other modes, including air travel, bicycling and walking, taxis, ride sourcing, car sharing, and bike sharing so that it is possible to get to and from most places without a personal automobile. Finally, we act as a consumer advocate putting mostly behind-the-scenes pressure on Amtrak and other service providers to uphold high standards of customer service and complaint resolution.

About the Council and the event: The Council is an all-volunteer advisory body composed of the most knowledgeable and active NARP members from around the country (at least one from each state and the District of Columbia) who are elected by the Association’s general membership for two-year terms. The Council meets twice annually: in April in or near Washington, DC, and in October or November elsewhere. The 2017 spring meeting will be held April 24-26, 2017, though the Fellowship may be shorter or longer than that depending on the Fellow’s schedule and needs and on the availability of those persons the Fellow desires to meet with in Washington. Day one of the spring meeting, held just outside Washington in Silver Spring, MD, features prominent guest speakers in the transportation and railroad fields, as well as interactive workshops and learning sessions. Day two is NARP’s Day on the Hill, where participants meet with members of Congress and their transportation staff to educate them about NARP’s legislative priorities, which generally include robust annual appropriations for passenger rail programs and policies that support the long-term expansion and improvement of America’s passenger trains and rail transit systems. The day concludes with a Capitol Hill reception, where NARP gives the Gold Spike Award to policymakers who have advanced its goal of A Connected America, and where Fellows can mingle with various transportation policy professionals, advocacy leaders, legislators, and legislative staff in an informal setting. Day three consists of reviewing Day on the Hill activities, progress reports and additional guest speakers, as well as NARP’s business meeting, where the Council elects members of the Board of Directors and considers changes to the Association’s bylaws, and considers any resolutions brought forward by the Council.

Why apply?

  • To get an up-close and immersive look at legislative and policymaking processes of how a grassroots advocacy organization works to influence local issues.

  • To meet one-on-one with policymakers, stakeholders, and influencers working on transportation issues in the nation’s capital.

  • To advance the Fellow’s career in public policy, administration, government, or the transportation or rail industries.

  • To earn academic credit for internship or experiential learning, if allowed by the Fellow’s college or university.

  • To strengthen and extend efforts to bring more and better passenger train service to the campuses, communities, and regions needing more transportation options.

  • To network with leading policy and rail industry professionals as well as passionate and experienced grassroots rail passenger advocates from around the country.

  • To get a behind-the-scenes look at the operations and decision-making processes of a member-driven national nonprofit association.

What is included: Fellows selected by NARP will receive:

  • Round-trip transportation to Washington, DC by rail or air, whichever is determined to offer the best combination of price and convenience.

  • Three nights’ lodging at the Sheraton Silver Spring Hotel (site of the Spring 2017 Council and Membership Meeting). Fellows may be asked to share rooms (two per room) where practical.

  • Local transportation between the Sheraton Silver Spring and Fellowship-related meetings and activities in the Washington, DC area, and between the Sheraton and the train station or airport at arrival and departure.

  • All meals during the time of the Fellowship.

  • Meetings arranged with officials and/or Congressional staffers, the US Department of Transportation, Amtrak, and other organizations, based on each Fellow’s interests and to be determined between the Fellow and NARP staff. Where possible, each Fellow will meet with at least one member of Congress representing the state or district in which the Fellow lives or attends school.

Who may apply: Applications from any student who is a US citizen or legal permanent resident, between the ages of 18 and 35, and is enrolled at any accredited institution of higher learning in the United States (including the 50 states, the District of Columbia and US territories) will be considered. Preference will be given to students whose academic programs and/or professional interests (as identified in the student’s application) align with NARP’s area of focus, and to those who express a particular desire to promote NARP’s goals both personally and professionally. Preference will also be given to students who reside or attend school in one of NARP’s regions of advocacy focus (the Gulf Coast states, Texas, California, and the Plains and Rocky Mountain states). To the extent possible, NARP will strive to achieve racial, gender and economic diversity in the pool of successful advocates.

The selection process will be determined at NARP’s sole discretion.


How to apply: Fill out the online application and upload all requested documentation. Applications and all requested documentation must be submitted no later than 5:00 PM Eastern time on Friday, March 3, 2017.