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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: September 2019 to August 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 Rita Allen Civic Science Fellowship program is to identify ways to expand how and to whom science news and information are communicated. It also aims to identify best practices to provide all science media producers with tools to reach new audiences more effectively. 

The Science Philanthropy Alliance, in partnership with the Rita Allen Foundation, seeks a Civic Science Fellow to explore and test effective methods of communication with potential private funders of basic science. The Civic Science Fellow hosted by the Science Philanthropy Alliance will be part of a cohort of fellows funded by the Rita Allen Foundation and other funders across several organizations. Each fellow will complete a civic science curriculum to inform his/her 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 September 1, 2019. The fellow will work closely with the Science Philanthropy Alliance, including its member philanthropic organizations and research institution partners, to examine, test, and share best practices in and approaches to communicating with funders and potential funders of basic science, as well as supporting them in exploring the role of science engagement in science philanthropy. 

Candidates will be early- to mid-career science media producers, journalists, fundraising or development staff, communicators, or working scientists with a commitment to science communication. Candidates must be US citizens or green card holders. 


  • The fellow is expected to undertake and complete at least one civic science project with evidence-based applications on the topic of effective communications with private funders of basic science. The fellow will be encouraged to 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 to the Alliance and to research institutions that communicate regularly with science funders. 
  • The fellow will work with the Alliance and selected member organizations (science foundations and philanthropic organizations) to develop and test different modes of communication with funders on topics of interest to funders, with the goal of inspiring and engaging private funders about basic science and fields of basic science. 
  • The fellow will conduct personal investigations and projects to test and identify different approaches to communicating with science funders and potential science funders. The fellow’s work with the Alliance may include research with other organizations that communicate with science philanthropists, such as science research universities and institutions.  
  • The fellow will then write about and present findings to the Alliance, the Civic Science Fellow program community, science research institutions, and other interested audiences. The fellow may be asked to present his or her findings at the Alliance’s research partner conference in summer 2020. 
  • 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 to ten years’ experience in civic science or science and technology communications, including but not limited to journalism or media, public policy, fundraising and development, or communications. 
  • Experience working in biological or physical sciences, math, technology, or engineering; experience communicating about data science/artificial intelligence/machine learning, neuroscience, and ocean science are of particular interest. 
  • Experience in working across different communications methodslong and shortform 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.

Application Process 

  • Please submit the following to careers@sciphil.org: 
  • Cover letter 
  • Resume 
  • 2 samples of science or technology writing for a nonscientist audience
  • 1 additional sample of science or technology communications in other formats (e.g., multimedia, digital, social media)

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.