Make an impact on your community

Community Building and Social Change Fellows Program

Want to be a social change agent? A builder? Collaborate with professionals? The Community Building and Social Change (CBSC) Fellows Program is designed to present both challenges and opportunities in building a stronger, contemporary, urban America. To realistically effect positive change where it’s needed the most, Fellows are trained and given the proper tools to make a difference through academic coursework, an intensive paid 10-week hands-on summer field experience, site visits, small group meetings, and public presentations.

Fellows get to see firsthand the critical role that collaboration plays in the resolution of important public issues. They can also hone the skills needed to transform their passion for social justice into meaningful actions that revitalize communities and promote positive and lasting social change. And more importantly, they will get real world experience working in Atlanta’s communities.

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The opportunity

The opportunity

The program provides academic and hands on learning for topics falling under the umbrella of community building. These topics include affordable housing, community capacity building, working with diverse populations in community, public education policy and practices, environmental issues in communities, poverty and community development. In addition to the issue-based instruction, fellows receive training in a wide range of social science and data collection methods.



The benefits and commitment

The ten-week summer project implementation term is a paid experience. Students receive a maximum stipend for their project work of $3,000, which is broken into regular paychecks based on hours worked and a final payment for successful completion of the project. Fellows are offered on campus housing for the summer term.  Professional development, weekly speaker/site visits and a summer learning trip are provided to our fellows outside of the 30-hour-a-week project hours. 


How To Sign Up

CBSC is open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors enrolled full time at Emory. There is a two-step application to become a Community Building and Social Change Fellow.

Step 1 Step 2 Step 3
Apply here and enroll in Fall CBSC Course (370A POLS/SOC/ENVS/CBSC), which serves as prerequisite for spring/summer terms. Apply to become a full CBSC Fellow in the late Fall.  Those accepted as CBSC Fellows will complete Spring CBSC Course (4 credit/hour class with 1 credit/hour lab) Participate in the 10-week paid summertime practicum

The initial fall course is designed to explore the principles and theory of Community Building. The spring course provides broader methodology, skills, and tools to put what was learned in the fall semester into action--preparing each Fellow for the 10-week summer practicum.  Early in the spring term, fellows are put into teams and matched with specific projects around Atlanta that CBSC. CBSC teams meet with their project partners throughout the spring term to co-develop a workplan for the summer term. 


The CBSC Fellows Program is a competitive program that prepares fellows for future careers in the non-profit sector, education, politics, public interest law, medicine, public health and socially-minded business. 

This program has been a life changing experience for previous participants in the program. Many have used the tools and skills they learned in the CBSC to secure employment in the public sector, non-profits, and private foundations as well as discover ways to bring social awareness and responsibility into the fields of law, finance, engineering, medicine, and technology.

Emory University offers a minor in Community Building and Social Change, which requires full completion of the Fellowship along with several approved elective courses.


The Community Building and Social Change Fellows Program launched in 2002 with a seed gift from the Kenneth Cole Foundation. The CBSC quickly became a national model for integrating research and

classroom learning with active participation and community engagement. Every year our teams of Fellows work shoulder to shoulder with  community leaders to affect real, lasting results regarding important social issues.  Given the intense training received both in the classroom and throughout the summer experience, the program is often thought of as a graduate level experience including elements of project management, policy analysis and community based research into this unique undergraduate program.

To date, the CBSC has worked with approximately 200 fellows and more than 35 collaborative projects. Read more about our most recent projects.


Archi Collaborative

ARCHI is working with the CBSC on projects supporting the launch of a program in DeKalb aimed at improvement the well-being of several communities. The DeKalb Youth Prosperity Collaborative aims to collect real-time data in a set of communities that will be reviewed and responded to via local service providers and community-led interventions. This is in some way building on past CBSC work with the DeKalb Sustainable Neighborhoods Initiative as areas being engaged each have functioning DSNI Steering Committees that will be partners in the work. A team of fellows is confirming community priorities and looking for connections with existing DYPI partners as well as other local opportunities.

Newton County Housing Authority

A team of CBSC Fellows are participating in the Georgia Conservancy’s work with the Covington/Newton County Housing Authority in its housing plan creation. Working with their Sustainability Team, the fellows will be active in community engagement and assessments work. Their project is to both create a community input process and implement key strategies to gather a representative picture of community attitudes, priorities, opinions and visions for housing in Newton County and its’ municipalities. 


CKSNI Housing Group

Three CBSC Fellows established baseline data related to affordable housing properties along the Buford Highway Corridor.  The end product helped the CKSNI Housing Group demonstrate the social, economic and educational changes created for both very local communities and individual residents.  

Partners in Action for Healthy Living

Working with the Partners in Action for Healthy Living, three CBSC Fellows helped establish the Youth Farm program including: implementing an evaluation plan and assisting in the leadership curriculum for participants. 


We Love BuHi

One CBSC team worked with We Love BuHi--a nonprofit which works to "strengthen the unique multicultural fabric of Atlanta's famed Buford Highway Corridor." The Fellows' primary task was surveying over 100 businesses along Buford Highway, gauging their interest and alignment with the mission of We Love BuHi.

Annie E. Casey Atlanta Civic Site

A team of Fellows worked alongside the Annie E. Casey Foundation's Atlanta Civic Site to update a vacant housing map for the Pittsburgh Neighborhood--one of the six neighborhoods in Atlanta's Neighborhood Planning Unit V (NPU-V). Additionally, the Fellows worked with the Pittsburgh Community Improvement Association to help plan and promote their summer block gathering. 

Atlanta's Edgewood neighborhood

A CBSC team worked alongside community partners in Atlanta's Edgewood neighborhood to document the community response to the closure of Whitefoord Elementary School. The Fellows conducted research on similar school closures and presented their final report to representatives of the Atlanta Public School System.

Leaders, Staff, Student Workers

Katherine Dougherty Grace

Director, Community Building and Social Justice

David Nifong

CBSC 2nd Year Fellow

Michael Rich, PhD

Lead CBSC Faculty, Founder of the CBSC