Interested in becoming a Student Voices Fellow? Apply here.

Chalkbeat’s 2023-24 paid essay writing program is open to high school juniors and seniors in NYC and Newark.

First Person is where Chalkbeat features personal essays by educators, students, parents, and others thinking and writing about public education.

Chalkbeat launched its Student Voices Fellowship two years ago to hear from teens — in their own words — about the issues shaping their lives and education. We’re thrilled to offer this paid essay-writing fellowship to public school students in New York City and Newark, New Jersey during the 2023-24 academic year.

I encourage applicants to read the published pieces by our previous fellows. That’s the best way to understand what Chalkbeat fellows do.

This past year, for example, Karen opened up about learning English as a new language, and Ashally told us what it’s like to feel her native Spanish slipping away. Dashawn recounted struggling during COVID lockdowns and then creating a course focused on teen mental health, and Jasmine explained the painful and precious ways the pandemic affected her high school class. Enoch discussed his early and ongoing experience with code-switching, and Vanessa told us what it’s really like to attend her famous New York City high school.

You can read more student work here.

This coming school year, we will select a total of six fellows, four from New York City and two from Newark. We are offering the fellowship in the fall and again in the spring. Applicants can indicate which semester they prefer. The fellowship will be virtual, with opportunities to meet in person with staff members of our New York City and Newark bureaus.

Fellows will receive a $1,000 stipend.

Fellowship requirements:

  • You are a rising 11th or 12th grader in New York City or Newark, New Jersey, and attend a public school or a charter school.
  • You are interested in journalism and storytelling.
  • You can manage your time, meet deadlines, and are willing and able to commit 1-2 hours a week to this extracurricular fellowship for about three months.
  • You have compelling personal stories to share and are willing and able to share them on Chalkbeat under your byline. (First Person does not publish anonymous or pseudonymous pieces.)
  • You are collaborative and eager for feedback on your writing.

Student Voices fellows will:

  • Pitch, write, edit, and publish personal essays.
  • Brainstorm, outline, and workshop your pieces alongside Chalkbeat journalists and writing coaches.
  • Attend Zoom sessions with journalism educators and Chalkbeat staff about the craft of reporting and writing. You will also have access to a library of recorded journalism lessons from reporters and editors.
  • Improve your storytelling ability across formats and platforms.

Applications are due Friday, September 1, 2023, at 11:59 p.m. ET.

If you have questions not answered here, please email

About Chalkbeat:

Chalkbeat is the nonprofit news organization committed to covering one of America’s most important stories: the effort to improve schools for all children, especially those who have historically lacked access to quality education. We are mission-driven journalists who believe that an independent local press is vital to ensuring that education improves. Currently in eight locations and growing, we seek to provide deep local coverage of education policy and practice that informs decisions and actions, leading to better schools. Read more about our mission and values. We are committed to a diverse newsroom. Read our antiracism statement.