CELE Fellowships

The Robert Lee Ellis Civic Fellowship selects incoming students on the basis of financial need, dedication towards service, personal growth, and leadership development, and ability to make a 4-year commitment toward fulfilling Fellowship expectations. Ellis Fellows are selected during autumn quarter and awarded annual scholarships throughout their  four years at the UW.

Eligible incoming students are encouraged to submit their applications by 12PM (noon) on Monday, October 25.

View Application Instructions and Essay Prompts (login with UWNetID required)

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  1. Documented financial need as determined by the Financial Aid Office. Most students fill this requirement by filing a FAFSA or WAFSA for the current academic year. We also accept applications from those who are not eligible to file for federal or state financial aid but can document financial need.
  2. Incoming student at the UW Seattle campus, with an anticipated graduation date in 2024 (or beyond).
  3. Committed to weaving public service and civic leadership development throughout your academic study at the University of Washington.


Successful fellows have been able to share the following interests. 

  • A clear commitment to service as shown through past experiences.
  • An interest in a particular social issue.
  • Ideas about future goals and what you hope to gain as an Ellis Fellow.

Ellis Civic Fellowships can be understood as a series of building blocks, beginning in the first year with a broad overview of the Seattle community, moving in to a service partnership with a community organization, developing deeper integration between each Civic Fellow’s academic work and service commitments, and culminating with a community-based capstone project.

The purpose of the Ellis Civic Fellowships is to support students in making a commitment to our community with core objectives including serving in the community; learning about yourself, the community, and the intersection of your academic study and community service work; and developing skills and experience in leadership, fellowship, and empathy.

Every Ellis Civic Fellow will be supported with individual mentoring and a flexible leadership curriculum as they move towards graduating as an Ellis Civic Leader.


Robert Lee Ellis, a Seattle native, was killed in action in World War II.

In 2007, James Ellis honored his brother Robert — a person of high ethical standards and the willingness to help others — with a gift to the University of Washington. This gift became the endowment to support the Robert Lee Ellis Civic Fellows program.

The intention of the endowment and the Civic Fellows program is to support students who make a commitment to our community.

Student Voices

The Ellis Fellowship had an impact on my post-graduation plans because of the service component, which made me more involved in my community–especially the Eritrean Community Center. One of my biggest commitments with them has been mentoring YPFDJ (Young People Stand for Democracy and Justice).

—Heaven Tesfamariam, 2019, Medical Anthropology & Global Health and Political Science

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