Freedom Builders fellowship to create blueprint for more inclusive higher education in Vermont

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MARLBORO — A new education model is taking shape in southern Vermont with the launch of the Freedom Builders Fellowship.

The $10,000 paid fellowship, based on the former Marlboro College campus will help young adults develop advocacy and academic skills while earning college credit.

The program will bring 30 students from a wide variety of backgrounds to the former Marlboro College campus, now owned by Democracy Builders, a 501c3 non-profit education incubator which empowers disenfranchised communities through innovation in democracy, technology, and civic education.

“Our Freedom Builders Fellowship program is the first step toward building a new model of college, and we are excited to do that through intentional collaboration with the community that we plan to serve.’’ said Chandell Stone, Director of the fellowship program. “Together our student leaders will learn about and design a new kind of higher education experience that serves the needs of students who are traditionally underrepresented in higher education.’’

Over the 10-month program, fellows will identify and develop a solution for an issue in higher education.

These issues may relate to admissions, coursework, extracurriculars, hiring, funding, and more. Fellows will leverage their lived-experience, community knowledge, and leadership skills to develop policies and practices that will substantially improve college success for students of color and marginalized groups.

The goal of the fellowship program is to co-create Democracy Builders’ Degrees of Freedom program that plans to launch in 2021.

Fellows will be leaders ages 18-24 who will come to campus beginning on September, 27 for a two-week rotation at the beginning of their 10-month program.

Fellows will be on campus for two weeks during each trimester and receive college credit.

The program will adhere strictly to mandates by Vermont Gov. Phil Scott around COVID-19.
Students will either arrive in a personal vehicle or take a dedicated Amtrak car on the Vermonter if it resumes operations in time.

After arrival, Freedom Builders will be quarantined and undergo a rigorous health protocol to ensure compliance with the mandates and safety for all.

“We take the governor’s mandate and guidelines very seriously,’’ Stone said.

The deadline to apply to the program is August 27.

Additional details about the fellowship can be found at Freedom-Builders.org