Inspired by the spirit of Raoul Wallenberg, the Wallenberg Fellowship is awarded in the spring of each year to a graduating senior of exceptional promise and accomplishment who is committed to service and the public good. The fellowship provides $25,000 to carry out an independent project of learning or exploration anywhere in the world during the year after graduation. The Fellow will engage in a self-designed and self-directed area of exploration or project of experiential learning. Through an active and immersive year-long experience, and by connecting in meaningful ways with the lives of other people and communities, the Wallenberg Fellow will prepare to make a difference in the world.

The Fellowship honors Raoul Wallenberg (B.S. Arch. ’35), one of the most illustrious graduates of the University of Michigan. At U-M, Wallenberg was recognized for the excellence of his academic work, his eagerness for knowledge of the world and for understanding others, and for his intrepid independence and resourcefulness. He left Ann Arbor resolved to be actively engaged in life. Ten years later, as a Swedish diplomat during World War II, Wallenberg coordinated the rescue of tens of thousands of Jews in Budapest. He disappeared after he was arrested by Soviet authorities. One of the great heroes of the 20th century, Raoul Wallenberg shows that even under the most daunting circumstances, one person can make a difference.

U-M parents Jon and Lili Bosse have provided a generous gift to initiate the Wallenberg Fellowship. U-M alumnus Bert Askwith (BA 1931) generously created the Mary Sue Coleman Endowed Fund for the Raoul Wallenberg Fellowship to support future generations of Michigan students who are inspired by Wallenberg's legacy and to honor President Coleman's leadership during her tenure at U-M.  

The first-ever University of Michigan Raoul Wallenberg Fellowship was awarded in May 2013 to Zachary Petroni, a Ford School of Public Policy senior. Zach is using his $25,000 stipend to study conservation governance in Kenya. "The greatest lesson I've learned from Wallenberg," Zach says, "is that one person can change the world for the better...if only they are willing to put others first." Read more about Zach Petroni, the first U-M Wallenberg Fellow.

Eligibility and requirements

Applicants must be in good academic standing and in their final undergraduate year. December and May graduates are eligible to apply. The fellowship recipient must graduate by the time the fellowship begins. Applicants may be of any citizenship. They should have an excellent academic record. They should show evidence of qualities necessary for successfully completing an independent year-long project, such as seriousness of purpose; interest in and openness to others; eagerness to learn and curiosity about the world; self-reliance, poise, and maturity; and creativity and resourcefulness. Fellowship support will start on August 15 in the year of graduation and last between eight and twelve months, ending no later than August 14 in the year after graduation.

Application

Applications include the following:

  • Application form
  • Project proposal of no more than 1,250 words
  • Budget template that details the costs associated with the proposed activities
  • Personal statement of no more than 1,000 words
  • Up to three letters of recommendation from faculty, advisors, or mentors
  • Curriculum Vitae or résumé
  • Transcript
  • Supplemental Materials

Project proposal. Your proposal should describe a creative self-directed plan for experiential learning or exploration that will engage you with the lives of people and their communities. Your plan may be to build on an experience or interest you have. It may be directed at a lifelong ambition that allows you to make use of skills you have acquired. Your plan may include a combination of internships, apprenticeships, research, informal learning, volunteer activities, service, or other forms of meaningful interaction and engagement that you initiate and that will allow you to meet your goals.

You may include travel to several destinations, but these must be part of a coherent and persuasive overall plan. You must design your own plan and not rely on opportunities provided by another party or organization. The project should not be in a local area where you have previously lived or studied for an extended length of time, nor should it have employment or a formal course of study as the primary activity. Proposals may not include travel to destinations under University Travel Restrictions.

Present your plan in terms of the following:

  • Focus: What questions, issues or area of discovery do you want to explore, and what activities do you wish to undertake to do this?
  • Preparation: What assets do you bring to your proposed activity? What skills, study, research, experience, and other preparation will help you successfully accomplish your plans?
  • Engagement: How do you plan to interact with people and communities in meaningful ways?
  • Goals: What do you hope to accomplish? How will your proposed undertaking develop your knowledge and interests and broaden your experience in ways that will contribute to your future path and plans?
  • Impact: What impact will your activity have on the places and communities you visit? How will it broaden your humane understanding of the world and help prepare you to make a difference in the lives of others?
  • Feasibility: How do you plan to stay within your budget? Are there practical constraints with visas or other permissions for the destinations you propose? What are the potential health and safety risks?
  • Contribution to the Wallenberg/Michigan Tradition: Raoul Wallenberg’s letters home while a Michigan student and an explorer of the Americas reflect his voracious appetite for experience and an eagerness to engage with communities of all kinds. How will you share what you learn as a Wallenberg Fellow?

Budget statement. A budget template is provided for you to show and explain all anticipated costs associated with the proposed project. If you intend to travel to expensive destinations, explain how you plan to stay within your budget. You must provide information about other anticipated sources of funding. If you are proposing international travel, the budget must include international health insurance and emergency evacuation insurance, such as that offered by HTH International, and any required immunizations. Ineligible expenses include cameras, laptops, digital recorders, telephones, other personal equipment, and personal items such as clothing and medication. This sample budget document includes the kind of detail that shows the applicant has fully thought through the expenses associated with the plan.

Personal statement. Discuss how your background and life experience, including opportunities and challenges, motivate your decision to apply for the Wallenberg Fellowship. The personal statement should reflect on the personal significance of the proposed project. It should realistically assess your readiness for meeting the demands of an independent year-long project and your commitment to make a difference in the world.

Letters of recommendation. Ask up to three faculty, advisors, or mentors to send letters of recommendation using the provided form. Up to two of the three letters may come from recommenders outside the University who know you well. These should offer candid assessments of your academic and personal achievement, your aptitude and readiness for carrying out the proposed project, and your potential for benefiting from the experience.

Curriculum Vitae or résumé. The curriculum vitae describes your secondary and undergraduate education; your work, research, teaching, or other significant experience relevant to your proposed project; professional or volunteer affiliations, activity and community engagement; honors and awards; and publications, performances, or exhibitions. Please include a section describing the destinations and durations of any international travel experience you may have had.

Transcript. Include an unofficial University of Michigan transcript and transcripts of other post-secondary study, including summer school.

Supplemental Materials. Additional materials are not required, but you may include memos of understanding or correspondence confirming internships, collaborations, or other relationships integral to your plan, if you have arrangements in writing.

Selection process

Application is a two-stage process. Seniors must apply to the Raoul Wallenberg Fellowship (RWF) contact in their school or college. (See contact information on the website.) Each school or college will review applications and may forward up to two nominations to the Wallenberg Fellowship Selection Committee, comprising representatives from the President’s Office, the Provost’s Office, Rackham, LSA, Engineering, and others.

Deadlines and Contacts

Schools and colleges are encouraged to set and publicize their own deadlines (see below) for reviewing applications in time to submit two finalists to the campus-wide selection process by the first Monday of February. The Wallenberg Fellowship Selection Committee will choose three finalists to interview before submitting their decision to the Provost and President by the last week in February: The Raoul Wallenberg Fellow will be announced at Honors Convocation in mid-March.

Deadlines and Contacts for Student Applications:

Staying in touch

The Wallenberg Fellow will have a University of Michigan advisor throughout the year. The Fellow is encouraged to share reflections and evaluate the project regularly during the year, and to consult with the advisor about problems or difficulties. The advisor must be notified in advance of significant changes in plans or itinerary. If a change in plans is necessary, this should be in the spirit of the original proposal. The Fellow must also seek prior approval before expending $1,000 or more from Fellowship funds for purposes not in the project proposal.  At the end of the Fellowship, the Fellow will provide a final report on activities and expenses, which should include the materials prepared as part of "Contributing to the Michigan/Wallenberg Tradition" above.

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