About the Program

In 2024, The Conservation Fund’s Parks with Purpose program launched the inaugural cohort of the Urban Conservation and Community Fellowship Program. The UCC Fellowship Program is aimed at identifying high-potential individuals interested in working with community-based, nonprofit organizations. Each UCC Fellow will be placed with a nonprofit community partner host organization and develop a twelve (12) month work plan in collaboration with the host, the Fund and the UCC Fellowship Advisory Council. The UCC Fellowship Program will provide full-time experience working at the community-scale assisting communities realize park, trail or other greenspace visions and related social, economic and environmental benefits.


The UCC Fellowship Program is designed to adapt to the needs of each community host organization to reach their programmatic and operational goals. Current Parks with Purpose community-based projects include new neighborhood parks and nature preserves, improved parks, greenspace amenities, trails and healthy food producing. Our projects often encompass job or skills training, environmental learning programs, community-based stewardship training and linkages with affordable housing, health and mental health promotion using outdoor settings, childcare and youth learning, historically and culturally relevant art and other forms of community development and quality of life improvement. Community partners need various types of expertise and capacity, such as public relations and marketing, communications, technology, community engagement, programming and event management, educational programming, grant writing and reporting, landscape design and hands-on volunteer project management. Fellows will have a variety of avenues to contribute to advancing equitable access to parks and nature and equitable community development.


In this role, UCC Fellows will:

  • Gain working knowledge of the effort to incorporate the improvement of outdoor spaces into federal, state and local policies that invest in disadvantaged neighborhoods across the nation.
  • Connect with early environmental educators, local community leaders and conservation professionals to build a broader professional network.
  • Attend virtual and in-person training sessions and/or certification programs to further develop professional skills.
  • Write and edit grant applications.
  • Work with the Partners to develop strategies for working with local government entities and community members.
  • Coordinate the development and implementation of advocacy tactics; this may include drafting content for policymakers, media and both internal and external partner audiences.
  • Working with Partnership Managers, lead the creation of a network of equitable green space leaders, thereby building a cohort of influencers and advocates across the nation.
  • Work with Partner organizations to strengthen community engagement tactics.
  • Help Parks with Purpose partners produce or update data-driven charts, maps and graphics for different target audiences.
  • Perform administrative duties and help with shared office tasks as needed.


What Professional Development Will Urban Conservation and Community Fellows Receive?

Urban Conservation and Community Fellows will share their ideas and experiences, forge new alliances, expand networks and support communities in planning and implementing Parks with Purpose projects.


Fellows will:


  • Community Engagement: Gain a comprehensive understanding of reparative spatial justice frameworks, tools and strategies that challenge the status quo and pave the way for equitable housing and land use. Incorporate meaningful community-driven change through direct community input.
  • Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion: Learn how to advocate for practices that address historical injustices, center community priorities and expose racial inequities in land use and housing policies — all with the aim of influencing national policy conversations and ushering in a new era of housing and land equity.
  • Non-Profit Fundraising and Proposal Writing: Learn and understand how nonprofits gain funding through various grants, including but not limited to federal grants, foundation grants and private entity grants.
  • Project and Budget Management: Learn and understand how nonprofits manage funds through different means, such as grants, donations and membership fees. Gain an understanding of grant reporting and project tracking with different funding sources and matching methods.
  • Narrative Power: Acquire the skills to shape and change the narrative about reparative spatial justice, both internally and externally, to create a broader understanding of its importance.
  • Coalition Building: Explore how to engage a diverse range of allies and partners in the pursuit of shared equity goals, amplifying impact in the housing and land justice movement.
  • Peer Exchange: Connect with like-minded fellows in a collaborative learning environment. Exchange ideas, lessons and tools that will support fellows to build new partnerships and a strong sense of solidarity that will drive transformative change.


Who Should Apply?

The Conservation Fund seeks applicants interested in building a career related to environmental conservation, community engagement, park planning and management, water conservation or GIS, or nonprofit organizational management at the community scale. The UCC Fellowship Program is a good fit for high potential, emerging leaders committed to social justice seeking to expand their management acumen.



  • Previous experience with community-based groups, environmental justice, conservation or related field. This can be educational, volunteer or professional experience.
  • Interest in supporting community-driven initiatives designed to make neighborhoods safer, greener and more equitable.
  • Interest in building a career working within nonprofit, organizing or public sector careers
  • Excellent verbal and communication skills
  • Knowledgeable about social and economic justice issues affecting underserved communities
  • Self-starter able to work effectively in both a team-based and independent environment.


UCC Fellowship Program Timeline

  • Application Opens: June 3, 2024
  • Selection and Placement: Mid-August 2024
  • Fellows start at Host Organizations: September 3, 2024
  • Program Kick-Off, Professional Development Training: September 23-25, 2024
  • Parks with Purpose Peer Exchange: September 25-27, 2024
  • Convening 2: January 2025 Rotating locations
  • Convening 3: May 2025 Rotating locations
  • Final Convening 4: August 2025 Rotating locations
  • Fellowship Program End: August 2025


Fellows must be available to fully participate in the kick-off convening and all in-person and virtual training workshops.


Fellowship Details

The 12-month fellowship will provide fellows with ongoing support and opportunities for growth, including:


  • A stipend to support their work in the fellowship and to help advance the capacity of local community-led organizations.
  • Quarterly convenings throughout the fellowship term for shared learning, group discussions and professional development.
  • In-person convenings to build relationships with other fellows, advisors and staff.
  • Coaching and mentorship from expert advisors.


Compensation + Work Expectations

Fellows will receive a salary as a full-time paid employee of the hosting organization in which they are placed. Fellows should anticipate working some evenings and weekends to participate in community meetings and programs as needed.






Individuals from underserved communities and people of color are strongly encouraged to apply.



    1. What is the salary for this position?
      The anticipated salary range for this position is $40,000-50,000 per calendar year. Final terms of employment will be determined by host organizations. Compensation will include benefits that host organizations provide to their employees, such as health insurance.
    2. Can I only apply for 1 location?
      Preferably, yes. This position does not cover the financial costs of relocation, and each location has a different community partner with different community needs. If you do want to apply for more than 1 location, please submit an application for each position and change just the preferred location for each application.
    3. Relocation
      This fellowship does not cover relocation costs. Host organizations may be able to assist in identifying possible housing options.



For questions, concerns or issues with the application form, please contact the UCC Fellows Program Coordinator at ilyon@conservationfund.org.



About the Parks with Purpose Program

The Conservation Fund’s Parks with Purpose program focuses on some of our most vulnerable urban communities. Through equitable park development projects and a community-centered approach, we work with residents to transform and restore depressed, inner-city properties into vibrant new parks. Not only do these new greenspaces provide safe places for kids to play and neighbors to gather, but they also reduce stormwater flooding impacts, train and employ local residents, provide access to fresh, healthy foods and create natural habitat in these highly urbanized neighborhoods. Most importantly, these parks are planned, developed and constructed by community residents. Please learn more about the Parks with Purpose program at www.conservationfund.org/our-work/parks-with-purpose.


About The Conservation Fund 

The Conservation Fund protects the land that sustains us all. We are in the business of conservation, creating innovative solutions that drive nature-based action in all 50 states for climate protection, vibrant communities and sustainable economies. We apply effective strategies, efficient financing approaches, and enduring government, community and private partnerships to protect millions of acres of America’s natural land, cultural sites, recreation areas and working forests and farms. To learn more, visit www.conservationfund.org.