NMU and InvestUP Announce New Rural Leadership Fellowship Program

Program title/graphic from website

Northern Michigan University is seeking student applications and community project proposals for the newly created Rural Leadership Fellowship Program, which is designed to support immersive project-based learning for students while also supporting Upper Peninsula economic and community development projects. The fellowship is a paid and scholarship-supported applied learning experience for students interested in rural economic development and public sector careers.

At least three fellowships will be awarded through a competitive selection process, which students are encouraged to apply for now through Nov. 30. Selected student fellows will receive a 100% tuition and fee scholarship as part of their financial aid package for the duration of the fellowship, which will include the winter, summer and fall 2024 semesters for the first cohort of the program. Student fellows will also receive a stipend up to $15,000 to assist with living expenses. The program is focused on graduate students enrolled in NMU's Master of Public Administration and Master of Business Administration programs, but undergraduate students are eligible to apply and may be selected on a case-by-case basis. 

“As the Upper Peninsula's rural-serving comprehensive institution, a hallmark of Northern's mission is supporting student access and career success in tandem with partnerships that advance regional prosperity,” said David Nyberg, executive director of Business Engagement and Economic Development. “A core objective of this program is to provide unique work-based learning experiences for students interested in economic development or public service careers, while also supporting Upper Peninsula communities with the capacity they need to succeed on important economic development initiatives. Northern is grateful to our partners at InvestUP and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation for their partnership in piloting this program.”

Student fellows will be mentored by an advisory committee of experienced leaders in planning and executing a project in the U.P. that has been identified as a community economic development priority.

The program is a public-private partnership with InvestUP, a non-profit economic development organization supported by the region's major employers to drive prosperity across the U.P. It is funded by a rural capacity-building investment supported by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, and also received administrative financial support from the NMU SISU Institute's Innovation Fund.

“This is truly a win-win-win opportunity,” said Marty Fittante, CEO of InvestUP. “This partnership permits students to gain professional, practical experience, while local organizations and communities are able to address critical, unserved needs, making them stronger, and the region's qualities are highlighted for the next generation of leaders. Through this unique program, we are able to expand the range of what's possible for students, communities and the region alike. The only reason this is possible is because of the vision, partnership and generous support of NMU and the MEDC.”

“Across both peninsulas, Team Michigan is dedicated to making sure we provide opportunities and resources to encourage people of all backgrounds to be the change they wish to see in their communities, which is why we're so grateful for our partnership with NMU and InvestUP to help bring this impactful program to life in the Upper Peninsula,” said Matt McCauley, senior vice president of Regional Prosperity at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. “Through partnerships and opportunities like the Rural Leadership Fellowship Program, we're making it clear that anyone and everyone are welcome to Make it in Michigan.”

As underscored in its Interim Strategic Plan's “Rural Roots” focus area, NMU's role as a rural-serving institution is critical to advancing the U.P.'s economy, including the acquired skills and experiences that students and alumni contribute as professionals, volunteers and leaders in their communities. This program will achieve several strategies designed to “serve rural communities by providing … economic models, workforce talent, and continuing education opportunities that specifically support rural communities,” including the following outcomes:

  • Student fellows acquire real-world experience in developing and executing economic development projects of regional import 
  • Rural U.P. communities are supported in advancing key economic development priorities
  • Student fellows grow professional networks and advance opportunities for placement in important public-serving roles in the U.P.
  • NMU and InvestUP create a public-private partnership model for applied learning to support students with public service and economic development career aspirations while also improving the quality of life for U.P. residents

"The new Rural Leadership Fellowship program will provide NMU students with a unique educational opportunity that will allow them to make a significant difference in our local communities and give those students a clear advantage as they start their careers,” said Rob Winn, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Students interested in the fellowship are encouraged to apply at https://nmu.edu/rural-fellowship. Upper Peninsula communities interested in participating in the program are encouraged to submit an Expression of Interest at https://nmu.edu/rural-fellowship.

Media Contact: Dave Nyberg, (906) 227-2647 or dnyberg@nmu.edu

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Categories: Around NMU, Strategic Plan