Schweitzer Fellows Stay in Pittsburgh!
The Pittsburgh Schweitzer Fellows Program (PSFP) might have discovered the secret for keeping young people in Pittsburgh. Each year, PSFP accepts a class of 20-25 young people from graduate programs around the Pittsburgh area. Schweitzer Fellows implement a yearlong, community-based direct service project in an underserved Pittsburgh community. This allows these young people to get to know Pittsburgh, develop a bond with its people, and ultimately settle here. Of the more than 330 alums of our program, which we call “Fellows for Life,” more than 46% stay in the Pittsburgh area. Year after year, about half of Schweitzer Fellows — bright, talented, hardworking, and dedicated young people — choose to remain in the Pittsburgh area to launch their careers or further their education.
What’s the secret to keeping young people in Pittsburgh?
The Pittsburgh Schweitzer Fellows Program supports graduate students that are passionate about serving others. They are leaders in service who embody the legacy of Albert Schweitzer. There are two types of Schweitzer Fellows, Traditional Fellows and Environmental Fellows. Over the course of their fellowship year, Traditional Fellows must provide 200 hours of service and Environmental Fellows must provide 300 hours of service. This means face-to-face contact with real people living in Pittsburgh and across southwestern Pennsylvania. Annually, Schweitzer Fellows serve directly over 5,000 southwest Pennsylvania residents living in our poorest neighborhoods and provide on average 4,400 hours of service. Most Schweitzer Fellows are not from Pittsburgh, so the Fellowship gives young people an opportunity they might not otherwise have to really get to know the people and places that make Pittsburgh special.
Since 1997, the Pittsburgh Schweitzer Fellows Program has been helping the most talented graduate and professional students in the area get to know Pittsburgh. One important reason why so many Fellows stay year after year in Pittsburgh is that unlike their classmates, who may rarely leave the lab or the library, Schweitzer Fellows go into communities and actually get to know Pittsburgh. Unsurprisingly, they like what they find and many choose to stay. What is truly striking, is because of the world-class universities in Pittsburgh, Schweitzer Fellows come from throughout the country and fan out across the nation afterwards (see map). After Pittsburgh, the most popular destinations for our Fellows for Life are California, Ohio, Massachusetts, and Maryland. Schweitzer Fellows are among the best and brightest in their fields, and they consistently choose to keep their talents – and their dedication to serving the community – right here in Pittsburgh. As one fellow put it in her final report, “learning so much about a place so quickly really endears it to you.”
Making Connections With Like Minded People
PSFP is the only yearlong, direct service, interdisciplinary, experiential learning program for graduate students. One thing all Schweitzer Fellows have in common is their dedication to serving others. Beyond that, if you’ve met one Schweitzer Fellow, you’ve met one Schweitzer Fellow! Each year, Schweitzer Fellows come from 4-6 Pittsburgh universities and 10-12 academic disciplines. They come from across the country and from different backgrounds, but they are united by their passion for service. As Fellows, and later, Fellows for Life, they are able to meet people who share their ideals and form lifelong bonds of friendship. This anecdote from a Fellow is typical of the experience many Fellows have: “Before starting the fellowship, I had not met a single graduate student in Pittsburgh outside of Pitt’s Law School. The fellowship has allowed me to connect with a group of young professionals I would have never had a chance to meet otherwise.”
The Pittsburgh Schweitzer Fellows Program attracts outstanding and dedicated emerging professionals who have a direct impact on underserved communities in our region. An added bonus for so many of our Fellows is the opportunity to get to know Pittsburgh and other young people who share their values—and quite often, to make friends and careers right here in the Steel City.