Partner with Fels

Partner with Fels

The Fels Institute of Government prepares graduate students with tools and knowledge they can put to work solving real-world challenges in nonprofit organizations and government agencies. Whether they take on short-term projects for their capstone research or collaborate with an organization for an internship, our students benefit from hands-on experience and professional connections. Your organization benefits from data-driven insights, professional recommendations, or research at no cost. 

Propose an internship opportunity

If your organization needs support, but those needs are not as focused on a singular project as a Fels Lab project should be, you may simply benefit from a Fels intern. We are always looking for internship opportunities to share with our students.

Submit an internship opportunity

Propose a Fels Lab capstone project

If your organization has a clearly defined problem or need, you can submit a proposal for a Fels Lab capstone project. Projects typically involve creating a strategic plan, conducting data analysis, researching and making policy recommendations, or designing and performing a program evaluation.

Submit a Fels Lab project

See our students’ recent Fels Lab capstone projects

Get started

To partner with Fels, please read the overview below and then submit your Fels Lab project proposal. If you have additional questions, contact Lauren Russell at

Fels Lab overview for partner organizations

Government offices, councils, elected officials, nonprofit organizations, and public-sector consulting organizations may submit project proposals to Fels Lab. Our Master of Public Administration students review the proposals and select one to complete as their capstone project. Our students will then work as pro-bono external consultants to complete their chosen project for you.

All projects must focus on a clearly defined problem or need. As a clearinghouse of opportunities for collaboration with community organizations, Fels Lab welcomes a diverse set of projects. Projects can touch upon any area of public policy, such as criminal justice, education, energy, international relations, or social policy. Some projects involve providing targeted, practical assistance through strategic plans or fundraising support. Other projects involve quantitative analysis, process tracing, or program evaluation. Our students are also taking classes while completing their capstone projects, so the project should be narrow enough in scope that it can be completed in about six months by a single student working about five hours per week.

Organizations are welcome to submit up to five project proposals for each submission cycle.

We encourage all nonprofit organizations, elected officials, and government agencies to submit proposals. We welcome submissions from across the US and across the world.

Fels Lab seeks out a diverse set of projects, but since unique student interests drive the project matching process, some projects may be more likely to “match” than others. Typically, Fels Lab projects involving policy analysis, strategic planning, program evaluation, and data analysis have the highest likelihood of student selection.

Many students complete their work entirely remotely. Students will keep in touch with community partners via at least once-a-month phone/Zoom conversations and email exchanges. It is important that all capstone students have reliable and consistent access to information and contacts at the organization to ensure that the student can complete their project on time. If the project is based locally, students may also attend in-person meetings and participate in fieldwork or site visits as their class schedule allows and as relevant to their particular project.

Community partners can best support students by clearly identifying a need, setting expectations regarding project deliverables, giving access to all relevant information or data, being responsive throughout the project, and offering feedback on interim or final products. Community partners should help the student understand their perspective and meet their goals without closing themselves off to external, objective review. Students engaging with community partners through the Fels Lab will be doing so as a part of their final capstone project. Students completing the project as a capstone project should not be paid for their efforts.

Most Fels Lab projects are completed in fulfillment of students’ capstone requirement. Capstone projects are due in either late April or late July, depending on whether your project matches with a student in the summer match cycle or fall match cycle. Partner organizations are encouraged and invited to come to campus to hear their student’s capstone presentations on the last day of class or attend virtually.

If your organization needs support, but those needs are not as focused on a singular project as a Fels Lab project should be, you may simply benefit from a Fels intern. We are always looking for internship opportunities to share with our students. Please send your internship job description to

Yes, you can still submit this type of proposal.

Submitting a Fels Lab project proposal

All community partners must submit their Fels Lab project proposal through the Fels Lab Submission Form webpage.

There are two submission cycles each year. Fels Lab project proposals must be submitted by May 31 for projects to be completed by the end of the following April. Fels Lab project proposals must be submitted by October 15 for projects to be completed by the end of the following July.

Proposals are evaluated based on:

  • Clarity: Are project needs and goals clearly specified?
  • Feasibility: Can this project be reasonably undertaken by a student?
  • Practicality: Can a student learn or gain useful skills from this experience?
  • Impact: Can this project make a valuable public service contribution?
  • Timeline: Does the timeline of the project match the students’ timelines?
  • Deliverable: Does the project have a clear deliverable that students will complete? Does the organization have a firm enough understanding of what a “finished” project will look like?

Following submission from the online form, a project proposal is reviewed by a committee of Fels staff and faculty members. The committee then decides to approve, reject, or invite revision and resubmission of the proposal. We aim to inform organizations of decisions within ten days of submission.

Student match process

After your project is approved, it is available for students to view and select as a capstone project. We cannot guarantee students will take on your project, but we encourage those who would be a good fit. For the spring submission cycle, you will be notified by no later than June with an update on whether your project matched. For the fall submission cycle, you will be notified no later than November.

While a project may be approved by Fels administration, there are no guarantees students will select it. We contact all organizations to provide an update even if your project is not selected. 

Matthew Forrest

"[My] project itself is focused on government advocacy and strategy, but it’s supporting an organization that does community and economic development work every day. I’d previously worked on making organizations more effective and efficient, and this was a new opportunity to help an organization in a different field meet its goals. It was challenging, and it pushed me to understand what I can accomplish at this scope and scale."

Matthew Forrest, Master of Public Administration ’19


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