City of Providence Summer Fellowship

Initiative on Cities Student Fellowship – Providence

The IOC Providence Summer Fellowship awards one BU graduate student the opportunity to work with the City of Providence’s Innovation Department for the Summer of 2018. The Fellow will focus on developing new project evaluations and testing models, performance-based procurement, and open data  community engagement approaches. The Fellowship includes a stipend payment funded by the IOC.

*Providence residency is not required for this Fellowship. The commuter rail from Back Bay, South Station and Ruggles is no more than an hour ride to Providence.

Specific projects for the Fellow are detailed below:

Budgeting for Outcomes

  • Purpose: Providence’s Innovation initiative seeks to identify and implement processes and budgeting practices that are outcome- and performance-based. The Department of Innovation and the City’s Policy Office are developing a performance dashboard that will be used to identify key performance indicators within departments to identify whether goals and objectives are being met. It has been a catalyst for conversations on the purpose and goal of the dashboard, which is ultimately to create accountability and to be used as a communications tool, showcasing investments in promoting thriving neighborhoods, building economic and workforce development, and creating opportunities for youth in education.
  • Student Expectations: It is important for department leadership to understand the principles of budgeting for outcomes.  This would reduce the need to identify resources to support departments that have not utilized trend and metrics data to propose additional investments – or provide justifications for increasing costs. To have a better sense of the impact this change would make, we need significant analysis of processes and research on best practices for budgeting for outcomes that would lead to an implementation plan for the department.
  • Skills Required: Ability to research and submit recommendations based on best practices, strong communication skills to facilitate coalition and consensus building, ability to manage the development of a project plan.

Program Evaluation & Testing

  • Purpose: The City is committed to evidence-driven decision making and improving City operations and programs to ensure better outcomes for our community. To advance this commitment, the City is building partnerships to design and deploy new project evaluations and testing models. We see robust evaluation and testing as an opportunity to both assess the impact of our programs and to help inform City leaders about different testing modules and their applicability to City services more broadly. From our use of neighborhood data and cultural asset-mapping to drive community arts investments, to testing out different summer programming models in order to increase participation in the summer lunch program, City leadership is committed to supporting models that concretely sustain positive community outcomes.
  • Student Expectations: The City is working with Applied Predictive Technologies, and is also seeking assistance through MIT’s Poverty Action Lab, for specific project analyses; however, we need support in developing less-centralized, lower-cost models for effectively testing new approaches City-wide. The role of the Fellow would be to facilitate the design of testing modules and follow through with implementation – hypothesis development, rigorous evaluation and testing methodology (including predictive technology), outcome evaluation, and report-out(s) – to improve City project outcomes.
  • Skills Required: evaluation design, hypothesis development, evaluation implementation, statistical analysis, quality control, reporting (and development of clear, concise reports).

Open Data Community Engagement Approaches

  • Purpose: Availability of reliable data sets can create a cycle of positive outcomes between government transparency, civic engagement, and third party development around government data. The City is continuously working to develop clear and effective communications strategies around our OpenPVD program. We are currently drafting an Open Data Policy and would greatly benefit from support in communicating the advantages of Open Data – as a community engagement, economic development, and government transparency tool – as we work to engage the Council in advancing that policy. Reliance and interest in these platforms provides impetus for the City to continue and expand these programs. From an Open Data perspective, our biggest opportunity lies not in just putting data online, but in meaningfully engaging stakeholders with data to support more informed decision-making.
  • Student Expectations: We are looking to create a culture and system that supports regular stock-taking and analysis of data, and provides robust feedback to help improve upon systems and programs currently in place. To establish this culture, we would like the Fellow to develop meaningful narratives about our OpenPVD platform, which highlight the usefulness and positive change open that data can drive within the community. They would be expected to facilitate at least one charrette for feedback from the community and stakeholders and to process comments as evaluation for adjusting communications for effectiveness.
  • Skills Required: strong writing skills, content development (SEO-preferred), in-depth knowledge of robust social media platforms and related software (e.g. ArcGIS), community engagement, event organizing, project management, ability to work independently and as part of a team.

Qualified interns will have:

  • Enthusiasm for promoting innovation in government
  • Interest in open data, customer service, and process improvement initiatives
  • Strong work ethic and initiative
  • Effective oral and written communication skills
  • Experience in analysis and systems organization
  • Knowledge of LEAN government processes a plus

Fellows report to the Chief Innovation Officer and work closely with the Innovation Team and its project-based departmental partners.

The IOC Providence Fellow will be awarded a stipend for an eight week summer fellowship, which will run from June through August, 2018.


  1. Applicants must be in good standing with Boston University. They must be enrolled as a full or part-time student with Boston University, or be graduating with the Class of 2018.
  2. This award is open only to graduate students.
  3. There is no specific skill set required. Passion for public service and local government is a must.

Responsibilities/Terms of Award:

  • Fellow will work a minimum of 35 hours per week for the entire nine weeks.
  • Fellow will participate in a roundtable discussion held in Fall 2018 to share his or her experience working in city government
  • Fellow must complete a 2,000 word report by August 31, 2018 highlighting an innovative municipal service or program that contributes to the well-being of the people of Providence. You are encouraged to incorporate interactive elements, including video and photography. This report may be published as part of the IOC Cities That Work series.
  • Fellows will receive all but $500 of their stipend at the beginning of the summer. The final $500 to be awarded upon completion of your report.

Application: Applications for Summer 2018 are now closed. Please check back in Fall of 2019 for next year’s application.

Please compile all application materials into a single PDF, labeled with your name, and attached to a cover email describing your interests and why this opportunity appeals to you.

  1. Current resume or CV
  2. Unofficial copy of your academic transcript
  3. Brief memo (no more than 500 words) identifying a problem or need you believe exists in Providence and a proposed remedy or set of remedies that would address the need. Be sure to articulate how your idea would benefit the people of Providence.
  4. Two references, including at least one academic reference. Please provide name, title, organization, phone number and email address.

Applicants will be notified whether they have been awarded the Fellowship.