Summer Bridge Program Call for Applications

Application Deadline


The humanities have a lot to offer.
Humanists have a lot to learn.

That’s why Humanities Without Walls, with support from the Mellon Foundation and assistance from the Graduate College, has designed this program in which PhD students in the humanities at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign make an impact while learning new skills and exploring new career paths. Students selected to participate in the program will spend 8 weeks in the summer contributing to a community organization in the Champaign-Urbana area. With support from Humanities Without Walls and We CU, participants will connect with an organization, identify an area of need, and design a project to address that need.

This program offers a funded and facilitated opportunity to:

  • Apply your humanistic skills and training in new ways
  • Contribute to an organization addressing a vital community need
  • Develop new skills and experiences
  • Explore unfamiliar career paths

Each student selected will be expected to work approximately 20 hours per week for 8 weeks in summer 2024 and will earn up to $6,800. Bridge students are not required to be registered for summer course hours, but health insurance costs, taxation, and university fees may vary depending on registration status. Please refer to the Graduate College and/or Student Health Insurance for more information.

Students will also have access to mentoring and guidance on using this experience for career exploration, as well as how to communicate their summer experience in resumes and other application documents.

All Bridge students are required to maintain residency on the Illinois campus (residing within a 20-mile radius) and complete their projects in-person during the award period (May 15 to July 15). Students also must attend a Zoom orientation on April 19 from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. We will work with students who need accommodations, and we will help students define the parameters of their projects. However, community-engaged work requires agility, and students should expect to accommodate the changing needs of their host organizations.

A recording of the 2024 Bridge program information session can be found here.


Application Guidelines

Fill out the application form at

Required application materials:

  • Resume or CV
  • Statements:
    1. What skills, areas of knowledge, or ways of looking at the world could you use to help a community organization make a positive impact? How could you foresee applying your humanistic training to advance an organization’s mission? (500 words max)
    2. How would this experience contribute to your career development? What do you hope to learn from working with a community organization in the summer? What skills would you like to gain or develop? (300 words max)
    3. Describe a time when you collaborated with others to solve a problem. (300 words max)
  • This recommendation form, filled out by one person able to speak to your capacity and potential to contribute to a community organization.
    • Possible examples include a faculty member you have taught with, another graduate student you have served with in a student organization, a supervisor or colleague from a volunteer position, etc.

Applications (including the recommendation form) must be received by 11:59 p.m. central on March 1, 2024.

Application Deadline Details

Applications (including the recommendation form) must be received by 11:59 p.m. central on March 1, 2024.


PhD students in humanities or humanistic social science disciplines at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign are eligible to apply. Students must be enrolled in Spring 2024 and plan to graduate after August 2024.


Please contact Olivia Hagedorn at for more information.