About E Pluribus Unum

E Pluribus Unum (EPU) was formed in 2018 by former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu with the premise that we must confront the issue of race head-on if we are to move forward as a region and a country. Our cities and towns will only thrive if they find a way to unite around a common purpose. EPU’s core areas are to:

  • Cultivate and empower courageous individuals who are focused on racial and economic equity
  • Change the divisive narratives that perpetuate systemic and interpersonal racism
  • Champion transformative policy change

Through this work, we advance a vision for a more just, equitable, and inclusive South. Together, we can chart a new course for the South — one that centers on addressing and supporting racial and economic equity. For more information, visit www.unumfund.org.

How can you be a part of creating a new South? The country’s landscape is changing rapidly, and leaders and advocates must have the tools to spark meaningful conversations about change, address the complete history of our past, and defuse the tensions that will arise as we move into a new era. As students, you are uniquely positioned to drive transformative, sustainable change right where you are — on college and university campuses and within your communities.

About the EPU Unum Fellowship

The Unum Fellows program is a unique, non-partisan fellowship that ensures leaders in the South can act thoughtfully and effectively on issues of racial and economic equity and drive sustainable change in their communities. The year-long fellowship brings cohort members together (in-person and virtually) to learn and exchange ideas.

Fellows in the 2024 Youth Cohort will receive learning and technical assistance to develop and execute a project that specifically addresses racial and/or economic disparities on their school campuses or within their broader community. EPU defines racial and economic equity as the fair opportunity for everyone to reach their full potential regardless of demographic, social, economic, or geographic status. Projects can address any issue related to equity, such as:

  • Democracy & Civic Engagement: assuring the community is represented and meaningfully involved in democratic processes (e.g., voter registration, student government)
  • Economic Justice: creating an economy with equal opportunity for everyone (e.g., addressing income disparities, reducing student loan debt)
  • Health Equity: eliminating health disparities and allowing everyone to achieve their optimal health (e.g., addressing social determinants of health, improving access to health services)
  • Environmental & Climate Justice: ensuring no population bears a disproportionate share of negative environmental consequences (e.g., sustainable practices, disinvestment from fossil fuels)
  • Community Change: supporting communities as they increase control over and improve their lives (e.g., Justice Reform, faith-based activism, social justice advocacy)

Applicants are not restricted to the above areas and may explore any equity issue areas.

Previous youth fellows have tackled varied projects such as food insecurity in their local communities, ensuring their communities have access to legal resources, filmmaking as a vessel for social change, and creating community gardens for their local universities and communities, among many other projects. You can find more information about some of the projects that past fellows have taken on here.

Fellows will receive a $2000 stipend and may receive up to $3000 in project funding as part of the fellowship award package.

Our Unum Fellows Youth Cohort is a project-based equity fellowship. If you are interested in a leadership training program that culminates in an equity-focused internship experience, you should consider applying to EPU’s Unum Academy program. You can find more details on that program here, and applicants are free to apply to both programs.


Applicants must be between the ages of 18-24, currently attending a college or university located in the American South* and enrolled at their institutions at least through Spring of 2025.

The ideal applicant for the Unum Fellows program is a college or university student with some previous experience engaging with social justice issues and a strong desire to increase their skills and knowledge around racial equity, project planning and implementation, collaborating for change, and building their network.

Applicants should demonstrate a strong interest in and commitment to learning about and advancing racial and economic equity. The most successful fellows are self-starters who can collaborate well with others and come into the work with a desire for continued learning and self-reflection.

*Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia

Program Activities

The Unum Fellows program will take place over twelve months and in two phases. The fellowship is separated into a learning phase and project implementation phase. You will find more details below, but as a general overview, the first phase focuses on knowledge and skill building and project development; it includes twice monthly online learning sessions on equity concepts and project planning, regular check-in meetings with EPU staff, and assignments to aid in the creation of a comprehensive project plan. The second phase focuses on project implementation and includes monthly learning sessions and regular check-in meetings with EPU staff members.

Learning and Planning Phase: June – Dec 2024

During the Learning and Planning Phase, cohort members will engage in workshops and training sessions designed to increase their knowledge and skills in the following areas:

  • Understanding equity-driven issues in preparation for their own work to advance equity within their schools and communities
  • Building connections to colleagues with experience/interest in speaking, writing, and advancing issues of racial and economic equity
  • Leveraging the tools and data needed to be well-versed in applying an equity lens to their current and future work
  • Examining best practice models for advancing key organizational, community, policy, and legislative change across a range of issues
  • Engaging with experts, thought leaders, community leaders, and those with lived experience of being negatively impacted by unjust policies and systems
  • Learning how to frame issues in a way that moves people forward
  • Exploring strategies for navigating barriers and common pitfalls

Fellows will develop a project to address racial and/or economic equity on their campuses or within their communities. Fellows will receive project planning support including specific guidance on developing the project budget and managing the funds.

Fellows are expected to attend and be actively engaged in all scheduled learning sessions and check-in meetings.

Before applying, you should check to see whether you’re available on scheduled learning dates by accessing the full list in the FAQ.

Project Implementation Phase: Jan – June 2025

During the Project Implementation Phase, fellows will implement their equity projects with the support of one-on-one technical assistance from EPU and up to $3,000 of funding. Fellows will meet regularly with EPU team members throughout the implementation process to receive feedback, troubleshoot challenges, report on progress, and generally support the advancement and successful completion of the project.

Drop-In Office Hours

You should feel free to reach out to fellows@unumfund.org with any questions.

If you’d prefer to talk through your questions with an EPU staff member, you can also book time during our optional drop-in office hours on January 17th and 18th. You can schedule a 15-minute slot through our Calendly.

Key Dates
Application Process Opens December 2023
Application Deadline February 25th, 2024
Acceptance Notification May 30, 2024
Opening Convening June 26-28, 2024
Phase 1-Learning & Planning Phase June – Dec. 2024
Phase 2- Implementation Phase Jan. – June 2024
Capstone Convening
June 2025 (tentative)

While success will look different in each community, Fellows will leave the program equipped to:

  • Foster meaningful participation among key community partners and leaders to drive the advancement of equity goals and projects.
  • Advance initiatives—beginning with their Fellowship project—that address racial and economic disparities in communities.
  • Cultivate long-term visions for equity within their communities that outlive any single term or administration.
  • Talk about racial and economic equity in ways that advance discourse, with a common language and understanding.
  • Act with urgency with the support of a strong peer network and community.

Cohort I: Municipal Elected Officials

Class of 2020

UNUM Fellows’ first cohort includes a diverse set of Southern elected leaders, from rural mayors to suburban school board members to county commissioners and big-city mayors. This select group will embark on a year-long journey to address inequitable and discriminatory policies and practices within their communities. Uniquely positioned to redesign broken systems, they begin this signature program amidst a renewed national movement towards racial and economic justice.

Cohort II: State Legislators

Class of 2021

The select cohort of Southern state legislators will participate in a year-long program to advance racial and economic equity in their states through sustainable change and collaboration. They are uniquely positioned to redesign broken systems and begin this signature program amidst a renewed national movement toward racial and economic justice.

Cohort III: Youth     Fellows

Class of 2022

The Youth Cohort of the Unum Fellowship program consists of twenty 18-24-year old college students from sixteen southern academic institutions. The Fellowship program will equip the young leaders with resources, training, and technical expertise to develop and execute a project addressing racial and/or economic disparities on their school campuses or within their broader community.

Cohort IV: Environmental Fellows

Class of 2023

The Climate and Environmental Justice Cohort of Unum Fellows (Class of 2023) will continue EPU’s mission to increase dialogue and advance racial equity in the South. The selected Fellows were chosen from a large pool of applicants located in the following Southern states – Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia, and West Virginia.