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Civic Science Fellow, Science Philanthropy Alliance

Location: Palo Alto, CA, with occasional travel to Civic Science Fellow program events and workshops in the United States 

Fellowship Timing: January 2020 to December 2020 (one year) 


About the Science Philanthropy Alliance 

The Science Philanthropy Alliance is a group of funders that have come together to increase philanthropic support for basic scientific research to accelerate scientific discovery in the twenty-first century. We accomplish this by understanding the opportunities and complexities philanthropists face in the daunting quest to fund basic science. We provide advice and learning opportunities for individuals and foundations so they can help answer scientific questions, solve big problems, and further our knowledge about the natural world. We empower them to advance their own science interests and priorities. We do this by utilizing our deep connections in the worlds of science and philanthropy. By serving as impartial advisers to philanthropists, promoting collaboration among those who are interested in this vital stage of scientific discovery, and bringing together donors and top scientists, the Alliance aims to substantially increase philanthropic funding for fundamental research and to create a community of funders for discovery-driven scientific inquiry.

The Rita Allen Foundation Civic Science Fellow at the Science Philanthropy Alliance 

The goal of the Civic Science Fellows program is to catalyze widespread, inclusive engagement with emerging science and its societal implications. In the face of rapidly changing culture, media, and science, the program is being designed to create new capacity across organizations working at the many interfaces of science and society. Civic Science Fellows are cross-disciplinary thinkers working in partnership with diverse communities, institutions, scientific leaders, and funders.

The Science Philanthropy Alliance, in partnership with the Rita Allen Foundation, seeks a Civic Science Fellow to co-create civic science tools, knowledge, and best practices that can inform and inspire philanthropy for basic science. The fellow will work closely with the Science Philanthropy Alliance, including its member philanthropic organizations and research institution partners.

In addition to completing a multidisciplinary project designed in partnership with the Science Philanthropy Alliance, the Civic Science Fellow hosted by the Science Philanthropy Alliance will be part of a cohort of fellows funded by multiple funders across several organizations. Fellows will participate in a civic science learning environment to inform their work and add to a growing body of knowledge about effective science engagement.

The selected fellow will be paid a salary plus benefits for the fellowship year. She or he will live in the Bay Area and work with the Science Philanthropy Alliance during the one-year program, beginning no later than January 2020. Candidates must be US citizens or green card holders.


  • The fellow is expected to undertake and complete at least one civic science project, drawing on existing as well as new research, listening, and experimentation, to inform and inspire philanthropy for basic science. The fellow will think creatively and use his or her ingenuity to design and accomplish the project(s).
  • The fellow’s project(s) should have the potential for contribution of significant new knowledge to the civic science field as well as add value for the Science Philanthropy Alliance member organizations and advisees.
  • The fellow will work with the Alliance and selected member organizations (science foundations and philanthropic organizations) to investigate, develop, and test different approaches to engaging with funders on issues at the intersection of science and society—which may include the societal case for funding basic science, connections between science and other philanthropic interests, and inclusive and effective approaches to supporting emerging science.
  • As part of the design of the project(s), the fellow will share findings with the Alliance, the Civic Science Fellow program community, science research institutions, and other audiences poised to strengthen basic science using a civic science lens, taking advantage of convenings and knowledge-sharing platforms as appropriate.
  • The fellow will agree to attend and participate in all in-person and remote learning opportunities that are part of the Rita Allen Foundation Civic Science Fellow program during his or her term as a fellow.


  • Five-plus years’ experience in a field related to civic science or science and technology communications, including but not limited to journalism or media, behavioral science, fundraising and development, philanthropy, communications, information design, collective action, or science with a strong engagement component.
  • Experience in working across different communications methods—long- and short-form written communications, in-person communications and presentations, publications, multimedia, and other innovative communications tools and channels.
  • Interest in connecting communications research and practice.
  • Prepared to propose, independently manage, and execute at least one project with the potential to contribute new knowledge and innovative ideas to the civic science field.

Experience working in biological or physical sciences, math, technology, or engineering, as well as experience communicating about emerging science such as data science/artificial intelligence/machine learning, neuroscience, and ocean science are of particular interest.

Application Process

Please submit the following to careers@sciphil.org:

  • Cover letter
  • Resume
  • 2 samples of science or technology writing for a nonscientist audience

The Science Philanthropy Alliance and the Rita Allen Foundation are committed to fostering diversity and inclusion in science philanthropy and encourage candidates of all backgrounds to apply.

New Venture Fund

Science Philanthropy Alliance is a project of the New Venture Fund, a 501(c)(3) public charity that incubates new and innovative public-interest projects and grant-making programs. The New Venture Fund is committed to attracting, developing, and retaining exceptional people and to creating a work environment that is dynamic, rewarding, and enables each of us to realize our potential. The New Venture Fund’s work environment is safe and open to all employees and partners, respecting the full spectrum of race, color, religious creed, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, political affiliation, ancestry, age, disability, genetic information, veteran status, and all other classifications protected by law in the locality and/or state in which you are working.