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Public Impact

collage of the workplace
Stories that feature our work amongst our communities in New York, the US, and the world, and invitations to join the change we're making to the world of work.
Originally published in Buffalo Co-Lab.

What Makes an Ideal High Road Candidate?

Students Listen to Community Member on Healthy Food

Here are five things that make a strong High Road Fellowship applicant.

Apply to the High Road Fellowship

What Makes an Ideal High Road Candidate?

The High Road Fellowship is one of the most successful, competitive and longest-running engaged-learning programs at Cornell University. The fellowship is run through the Cornell ILR School, but is open to all matriculating students. So, what makes someone an ideal candidate for the High Road Fellowship? 

You have something unique to offer. 

You examine sources and solutions to community problems and make substantive connections with their experience. You do not necessarily need the highest GPA –; your unique story, background, skills and experiences will help you stand out.

High Road offers placements ranging from unions to foundations, law centers to urban farms, advocacy organizations and centers for people with disabilities to offices of elected officials. There are many opportunities students can choose. Fellows add much needed capacity to organizations and offices working to combat some of the many challenges of  Western New York. Before and during the summer experience, we ask students to write weekly reflections, and engage one another about their experiences. 


You want to learn.

You want to further and share your skills and experiences. You want to learn new skills like Tableau or GIS, interviewing or community engagement. You might be passionate about systematic inequalities like poverty or racism, and want to broaden your understanding.

Placement supervisors and Cornell staff work alongside students to develop skills and to achieve their summer goals. 

“The High Road was the most influential experience I've had as an undergraduate"

-2018 High Road Fellow. 

“I couldn’t have asked for a better summer. This has been the most eye-opening experience that has caused me to do a lot of self-reflection. But most importantly, it has inspired me to always be doing more. I know I will be taking everything back with me.” -2020 High Roader. 

You want to know Buffalo!

You care about community. You want to experience a world-renowned region.  

High Road Fellowship is not just in Buffalo it is all about Buffalo. As a New York land-grant college, we serve our community and you will too. The ILR Buffalo Co-Lab works with Partnership for the Public Good, a community-based think tank, with over 360 partners. This genuine partnership allows a unique place for students to build relationships and work in concert with the community to tackle the awesome challenges facing our region, our country and the world. High Road programming each Friday lets students share and reflect on their work, discuss directly with community leaders, and head out for guided experiences across Western New York. Fellows get to know the places and meet the people changing Buffalo. This is our home. We love it here and want you to love it too.

You want to build a community.

You engage with others and want to collaborate. You’re a team member and sometimes a team leader. You see the value of community and working together.

While each fellow is paired with an individual partner with their own project, what makes the High Road Fellowship unique is the fellowship community. Fellows chat with High Road alumni, share weekly dinners, and more. Fellows grow together throughout the summer. 

“If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.”-Proverb from Burkina Faso

Change takes time, so candidates should know we are in it together.

You want meaningful work that has major impact.

You want to create lasting change.

Each fellow is paired with a change-making partner organization. You will learn about place-based problems through the lens of lived experience. From mapping and assessing the economic impacts of zombie properties, to interviewing and publishing reports on community voices, researching coops, analyzing predatory lending, mediating and engaging in collective bargaining campaigns, High Road Fellow work makes a difference.

A 2021 Democracy Summer Supervisor said: “Our fellow’s work has a clear, quantifiable financial benefit, but, more than that, the value of the work–to document for posterity Erie County’s response to an historic and unprecedented crisis–is unquantifiable. This report will be invaluable for many decades as our government leaders make decisions to solve complex problems into the future,” - Maria Whyte, former Deputy County Executive for Erie County.

“Our organization needed this report for the last 5 years, but did not have the time, capacity or resources to complete the massive undertaking. Because of it, we are now making actual strides in providing more equitable access to transit for our communities,” - Car Skompinski, Citizens for Regional Transit, 2021 High Road Supervisor.

Your work will matter.

High Road Buffalo selects around 22 students each year to participate in a five-week spring pre-course and eight-week summer program. Students live in Buffalo and are paid $4800. 

The deadline to apply is Feb. 10, 2023. Learn more and apply here: https://www.ilr.cornell.edu/buffalo-co-lab/student-opportunities/high-road-fellowships