What is the Schwartz Fellows Program?
The Schwartz Fellows Program provides a year’s worth of funding—as much as $45,000—to cover expenses for a graduating student who plans to engage in a yearlong (at least ten months), postbaccalaureate service activity related to social change, the environment, disaster relief, youth development, or other causes.
Applications for the 2025 fellowship will be accepted October 1, 2024–February 1, 2025.
How do I know if I am eligible to apply?
To be eligible for the 2024 fellowship, you must have at least one major in the College of the Liberal Arts and be graduating with your baccalaureate degree from Penn State University Park in one of the following semesters.
- Summer 2023
- Fall 2023
- Spring 2024
- Summer 2024
You must graduate from the University Park campus and have been enrolled at the University Park campus for at least two years of your undergraduate career. You must also have a minimum grade-point average of 3.60 for courses completed at University Park campus.
What is the application process?
Candidates for the Schwartz Fellows Program will be required to apply and upload supporting documentation, which will be evaluated by a committee appointed by the dean. That committee will consider students’ academic achievement, service to Penn State, and service to the greater community beyond Penn State. The selected candidate will be expected to report on their experience periodically and return to campus at the conclusion of their project to make a presentation to the Liberal Arts community.
Required Application Materials
- Personal statement (one page)
- Project proposal (two pages)
- This should be a detailed statement of purpose regarding your post-baccalaureate year of service. Include a description of how the funding will support your travel and living expenses.
- Résumé or CV
- Unofficial Penn State transcript
- You may be asked to submit an official transcript if selected by the committee.
- Affiliation letter related to the proposed project (if necessary)
- Two letters of recommendation (sent directly to Tam Rankin at firstname.lastname@example.org)
- One letter should speak to your academic background and achievements.
- One letter should address your past service, character, and leadership.
Meet the Benefactors
The Rhea S. Schwartz Fellows Program in the College of the Liberal Arts was endowed by Rhea Schwartz, a 1971 Penn State alumna, and her husband, Paul Wolff.
After graduating from Penn State with a degree in French and Francophone Studies as well as a teaching degree, Rhea earned her law degree from Georgetown University Law Center. She retired following a distinguished career that included stints with a law firm, the United States Department of Education, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and the Center for Israeli Studies at American University. Paul retired after decades as a civil and criminal litigation attorney with Williams and Connolly, a Washington, D.C.-based law firm. He earned his juris doctorate at Harvard University after completing his undergraduate studies at the University of Wisconsin, where the couple established a similar fellowship.
“Liberal arts and the humanities are suffering because job opportunities and the promise of a livelihood in these fields are diminishing,” said Rhea. “We wanted to create something that could possibly lead to some form of lifetime work.”
“We were motivated to do this now because we realized that the cost to attend even public universities has skyrocketed,” Paul added, noting that having a guaranteed income for a year after graduation will make a meaningful difference for students who are likely carrying a significant debt load.
Meet the Schwartz Fellows
Josie is the first recipient of the Schwartz Fellowship. She started her fellowship in August 2022 working with AmeriCorps VISTA on refugee case management and economic empowerment in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Josie, a Paterno Fellow and Schreyer Scholar, graduated in the spring of 2022 with a B.S. degree in Economics and a B.A. degree in History, with minors in Jewish Studies and Middle East Studies. The Port Matilda, Pennsylvania native served as the Economics major marshal at the College of the Liberal Arts commencement ceremony. Following commencement, Josie spent the summer studying in Turkey as part of a Critical Language Scholarship.
At Penn State, Josie was the co-founder of Students Teaching Students and a member of the Presidential Leadership Academy. She also interned with the Jewish Studies program and worked as a teaching assistant for the Department of Economics.
Amelia is the 2023 recipient of the Schwartz Fellowship. She graduated in the spring of 2023 with degrees in African Studies and Psychology. The Schreyer Scholar plans to return to her home country of Ghana to work on a case study regarding differences in perceptions about corruption and how to combat it in Africa.