the Application period closed July 31, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. EST. if selected, fellows will be notified.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, E Pluribus Unum (EPU) has relaunched the application for our UNUM Fellows program. It is clear that support for local elected officials is more critical than ever before as they navigate the COVID-19 recovery process and work to ensure greater equity and resilience in their communities moving forward. We welcome applications for projects that speak to the impacts of COVID-19 in their communities, and we welcome applications that seek to address racial and economic equity issues unrelated to the pandemic.  

At EPU, we believe that we are better together than we are apart, and that we will thrive only if we unite with common purpose. In the U.S. South, the need to find common ground with one another and create more equitable communities calls for courageous leadership. 

The EPU research journey around the South found that where local political, community and philanthropic leaders openly prioritize racial diversity and inclusion, there is more hope and optimism in their community’s future among residents. Our research has taught us that people place a great deal of hope in their local political leadership. We want to empower southern local political leadership to act on issues of race and class in new ways.  

The UNUM Fellows program is a unique, non-partisan fellowship that aims to ensure local elected leaders in the South can act on the issues of racial and economic equity – driving sustainable change in their communities.

The country’s demography is changing rapidly, and leaders need to have the tools to speak meaningfully about these changes, address the past and defuse the tensions that will arise as we prepare for the future. 

We believe the success of municipal leaders in advancing racial and economic equity can be strengthened and expanded through network building and by sharing what works, while listening to the voices of those most impacted by these divisions.

The UNUM Fellows program will push leaders towards these issues and support them in generating an ambitious project with the tools to effectively work towards equity in their communities through sustainable change and collaboration. Cohort members will receive project funding of up to $75,000, along with ongoing technical support to implement their resulting projects. Projects may seek to address COVID-19-related issues or those unrelated to the pandemic.

Fellows will be asked to:

  • Identify a concrete opportunity in their community that specifically addresses racial and/or economic disparities; and

  • Develop a responsive initiative for implementation at the conclusion of the fellowship (e.g., policy reform, organizational change, public art project). 

  • Virtually meet as a collective, sharing lessons learned and taking part in transformative knowledge-building and engagement.




The ideal applicant for EPU’s UNUM Fellows program is a new or seasoned elected municipal or county leader (i.e., mayors, county commissioners, parish presidents, city councilmembers, school board members or law enforcement officials) from a state in the American South, with experience collaborating with others to build common understanding and solve issues that are facing residents. The applicant must, at minimum, be in their current term of office through the end of 2021. They possess a strong commitment to learning about and advancing racial and economic equity in their communities. They will engage their senior staff, as needed to support the implementation of strategic plans and projects that are borne in the fellowship program. Applicants must currently be in elected office in one of the following states: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia or West Virginia.

participant experience


UNUM Fellows participants will gain access to a wide range of nationally recognized partner organizations and individuals that will provide valuable and actionable skill-building around racial and economic equity. 

EPU has designed a participant experience for fellows that is intended to bring maximum value to their time spent in the program. Opportunities offered to fellows will include: project planning assistance, informational learning opportunities, coaching, trainings & technical assistance, public opinion research, customized data analysis and more. 

Program partners include:

  • PolicyLink

  • What Works Cities

  • Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings 

  • National League of Cities (NLC) University

  • Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP)

  • Center for American Progress (CAP)

  • Hope Policy Institute

Application Deadline 

Applications must be completed by July 31, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. EST.