Join Over 4,000 Fellows For Life

Schweitzer Fellows for Life form a powerful alumni network that extends the impact and influence on community and clinical health in the United States and across the globe.  They are committed to creating systemic change in health care services and policies that will promote health equity and treat all people with dignity and compassion.

Applications for the 2024 – 2025 Fellowship year are no longer being accepted. If interested in applying for the 2025 – 2026 Fellowship year, please check back in Winter 2025.

Become a Schweitzer Fellow

The San Francisco Bay Area Schweitzer Fellows Program® is a one-year interdisciplinary, mentored fellowship program focused on health-related community service and leadership development. The mission of the U.S. Schweitzer Fellows Program® is to prepare the next generation of professionals to serve and empower vulnerable people to live healthier lives and create healthier communities.  To accomplish this, the Fellows learn how to:
  • Use their skills and knowledge in real-life situations;
  • Become culturally sensitive and compassionate caregivers;
  • Understand the impact of social and environmental determinants of health;
  • Build capacity for and commitment to improving the health status of individuals and communities as well as contributing to social change;
  • Work collaboratively and across disciplines in pursuit of a common goal;
  • Exercise leadership skills to work with and influence community-based organizations, community leaders, and academic institutions to embrace holistic, service-oriented approaches to health.

Upon successful completion of the initial Fellowship year, Fellows become part of an alumni network of Fellows for Life – an interdisciplinary pipeline of professionals who are dedicated to and skilled in meeting the health needs of underserved communities.

Schweitzer Fellows focus on health as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO): a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Rooted in this holistic understanding of health, Schweitzer projects address not only clinical health issues, but also the social determinants of health—defined by the WHO as the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age, and which are mostly responsible for health inequities.

Students enrolled in graduate or professional degree-granting programs from any accredited academic institution in the San Francisco Bay Area may apply. While the applicant’s field of study does not have to be traditionally health-related, the proposed service project must focus on health and/or the social determinants of health. Past Fellows have addressed health from a wide variety of perspectives and disciplines including, but not limited to, dentistry, education, engineering, environmental sciences, geography, law, medicine, music, nursing, occupational therapy, optometry, pharmacy, physical therapy, public health, social work and speech therapy. Applicants must be enrolled throughout the Fellowship year (April – May). Applicants scheduled for a December graduation must contact the Program Director to determine if they are eligible for a waiver to this requirement.

Due to the uncertainties posed by the Covid-19 virus, Fellowship requirements and activities may be changed for the upcoming year. Information sessions will be held virtually and may be available on line as well. For up-to-date information on all aspects of the Fellowship, please contact us.

Prospective Fellows should be prepared to design a community service project (in partnership with a local community agency) that seeks to provide direct service to an underserved population while eliminating health disparities and improving their quality of life.

The project should:

  • Provide a direct service that meets a community defined need and reflects national and local health priorities, such as Healthy People 2030. Interested students should investigate and reflect on the unmet health-related needs that exist in the San Francisco Bay Area and on the ways in which their own energies and talents might contribute, even in small ways, to ameliorating one or more of these problems. Applicants are strongly encouraged to communicate with potential community partners prior to submitting their applications and to be as specific as possible in their proposals about their relationships with the community partners.
  • Include a brief discussion about evaluation and, although specific evaluation methods need not be specified, the desired outcomes and a definition of what success might look like should be part of the discussion.
  • Be of enduring value to the community/agency served. The project proposal should include a brief discussion about sustainability of the project at the end of the Fellowship year.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to identify one or more potential academic mentors at their schools and site mentors at the agencies where they propose to conduct their projects.  For more information about the roles of academic and site mentors, please download by clicking on the links provided.

Applicants should be creative in developing their proposals. They may choose to design a totally unique project in keeping with Dr. Schweitzer’s directive that everyone should find their own Lambaréné–their own special place to serve, and way of serving. Alternatively, applicants may find inspiration in reviewing past Fellows’ projects and partnering agencies.

Applicants should keep in mind that they may utilize their unique experience and expertise to expand upon a past Schweitzer project, but should not simply duplicate or continue one that has been carried out previously. Research, fundraising, and policy-based projects are not considered eligible for a Schweitzer Fellowship.

Applicants are encouraged to contact the Program Director as early as possible to discuss project ideas and potential sites.

If you plan to do a joint project with another graduate student, you must be certain that your application reflects the fact that this project is large and complex enough to require the participation of two Fellows. If accepted, each Fellow will receive a full Fellowship stipend and will be individually responsible for carrying out all of the requirements listed below. In describing your project, you should indicate the particular attributes that each of you brings to the project. Note that there are separate applications for individual and partnered projects. Please complete the one that fits your situation.

Orientation Retreat: Before COVID all Fellows were required to attend a weekend orientation in early April. Since COVID we have had to make some changes in the length and venue of the Orientation, but it will still take place on a weekend early in April. It is absolutely mandatory and anyone not able to attend should not apply for the Fellowship. The exact dates of the retreat will be available sometime in early November and the venue will depend on COVID protocols at that date. 

Service Project: Working in collaboration with a local community agency, each Fellow must design and carry out a service project of at least 200 hours that is focused on maintaining, supporting and improving community health. Each Fellow will work under the supervision of a site mentor from the participating agency, and an academic mentor of the student’s choice from the student’s current academic institution. The Program Director is available to provide support and guidance throughout the Fellowship period. The 200 hours is separate from any school course requirement. At least half of the 200 hours should be in direct, face-to-face contact with the population being served. Some changes to these requirements may be necessary due to COVID protocols at the time. These direct service hours do not include administrative duties, research, needs assessments or other Fellowship activities. In designing a project, potential Fellows should carefully consider the issues of evaluation and sustainability and include their ideas for addressing these aspects of the project.

Reports: Fellows are required to submit monthly reports and reflections about their activities and a comprehensive written final report to their Program Director, Academic Mentor(s), and Site Mentor(s).

Program Evaluation: Fellows are required to complete a pre- and post- survey for the Fellowship.  Each Fellow’s site mentor also must complete a final site mentor survey.  Links to these on-line surveys will be provided by the Program Director.  These surveys are in addition to each Fellow’s evaluation plan for their individual project.

Monthly Meetings: Fellows are required to attend all monthly meetings.  Monthly meetings provide the Fellows with leadership development, skills-based workshops, interdisciplinary discussions, time for reflection on community service, and an opportunity to network with like-minded students from diverse fields as well as professionals in areas of interest to them.

Each Fellow will be required to write an op-ed piece on a subject of their choosing and submit it for possible publication.

Public Outreach: The Fellows work together as a group to organize a public outreach project. The design and execution of this outreach project is the sole responsibility of the Fellows. A small budget will be provided for costs incurred.

Recruitment: In the fall of each year, Fellows will work with the Program Director to organize information sessions about the SF Bay Area Schweitzer Fellows Program and present information at their schools about their Fellowship experiences.

Stipend: Fellows receive a stipend of $2,000 distributed in three payments throughout the Fellowship year as specific program objectives are completed.  The stipend may be used in any way the Fellow wishes, including project related costs and personal expenses.  As our funding is limited, the SF Bay Schweitzer Fellowship is unable to provide any additional financial support beyond the stipend.

Celebration of Service: New Fellows are required to attend the Celebration of Service in May 2023 to honor outgoing current Fellows and welcome the new group. In the following year 2024 Fellows will be similarly honored and may be required to prepare a poster describing their projects’ goals and accomplishments. The details about this event will be formulated depending on COVID protocols at the time.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to attend an information session before completing an application. For a list of information sessions, please contact the Program Director.

Letters of recommendation are not required, but if you wish to submit them, please contact us.


Applications for the 2025-2026 Fellowship year will open Winter 2025.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship is an interdisciplinary program and we are looking for applicants from any field in which the Fellow can create a health-related community project. Diversity of thought and perspectives will enrich the experience for each class of Fellows. Other fields of study have included dentistry, law, divinity, psychology, pharmacy, engineering, business, the arts, and more. We think expansively about health and realize that there are many factors that contribute to the health and well-being of our communities.
Schweitzer Fellows focus on health as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO): a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Rooted in this holistic understanding of health, Schweitzer projects address not only clinical health issues, but also the social determinants of health—defined by the WHO as the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age, and which are mostly responsible for health inequities. The options are broad so that you can follow your interests and creativity to lead you to a project that will have impact.
Take a look at Fellows & Projects page on our website. This will give you an idea of what SF Bay Area Fellows have done in the past. On the national website you can click any of the cities listed to see what Fellows in other parts of the country have done.
“Underserved” is any group that is at risk for or experiencing compromised health or physical, social, or emotional well-being. Any group of people that you can conceive of who has difficulty receiving quality health care and other needs that impact their health and well-being could be considered underserved.
“Direct service” means working directly with any group that is at risk for or experiencing compromised health or physical, social, or emotional well-being and interacting in some way with individuals in that group. Examples include providing health information workshops, leading a fitness class, tutoring, providing screening exams at a health fair, or linking residents to needed services. Research, fundraising and policy-based projects are not considered eligible. Each project entails different amounts of planning, but you should complete a minimum 100 hours of direct service, allowing the rest of the time for project planning and administration.
You can complete your 200 hours of service at any time from April 1 to March 31. Some Fellows start their hours during the summer, while some don’t start until autumn. Some Fellows complete all of their hours in a couple of months and some spread them out over the entire year. It is up to you and what your project entails. We do encourage spreading the hours as much as possible to have enough time to overcome any unforeseen roadblocks or delays. Fellows who need some extra time at the end of their Fellowship year can request an extension. Permission to extend the time is the sole decision of the Program Director.
Yes, but infrequently and with a few caveats. First, more will be expected from the projects; that is, there would be an expectation for greater or more durable impact. If you partner with another student, you both must fulfill all the program requirements and participate in all of the Fellowship activities.
Yes, the orientation is a firm requirement. If you already know you cannot make it, please do not apply for the Fellowship.
A hallmark of the Schweitzer Fellows Program is the regular contact with other Fellows from disparate fields and opportunities for leadership development and exposure to speakers who will give presentations at some of the meetings. The monthly meetings reinforce the rapport established at Orientation and provide opportunities for Fellows to acquire leadership skills and feedback from their peers concerning their projects. They are held on Sunday evenings and participation is mandatory. 

Unavoidable absences from meetings should be cleared with the Program Director.

The Fellowship experience is an important opportunity for learning, whether someone has already done a lot of community work or very little. Experience is not a requirement for the Fellowship, but in your personal statement we’d like for you to explain how your background and skills have helped prepare you to do community outreach work, and what motivates you to make such a serious commitment. The Program’s mentors and Program staff provide ample support to Fellows so that everyone who is passionate about providing service can do so.
No, we do not allow a Fellow to use their Schweitzer project for credit within their curriculum. The Fellowship is really meant to be an added component to your educational experience that enables you to develop your abilities as a leader in service. The Fellowship is an opportunity to complete a community service project and to become part of a community of Fellows who are dedicated to similar work and hold similar values. Although it may take a lot of time to participate in both the Fellowship and your school internship or practicum, it is a very enriching and rewarding experience to be part of the Fellowship separate from your academic requirements. It’s your opportunity to follow your passion.