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U-M Ross Business + Impact
U-M Ross Business + Impact
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Nonprofit Board Fellows

Nonprofit Board Fellows

For Nonprofit Organizations

The Board Fellowship Program prepares University of Michigan graduate students for responsible community involvement and practical leadership experience. For an academic year, students are matched with nonprofit governing boards in Southeast Michigan as non-voting members.

Since 1999, over 700 Board Fellows have been placed with over 300 nonprofit organizations. These students have assisted in various board initiatives, including supporting strategic planning development to furthering programs and enterprises. Nonprofit organizations gain access to future community leaders with fresh perspectives and talents, the time and expertise of outstanding graduate students, and a connection with the University of Michigan. Meanwhile, students gain practical board experience, skills, and networks to further their community engagement.

Board Fellows serve as non-voting board members for an academic cycle (from October through April), and complete a board-level project over the course of their placement. Students work closely with the board and executive director of their assigned organization, attend board meetings, serve on committees, and engage with the issues facing the organization. In other words, they serve in the same capacity as any other board member.

The nonprofit application for 2023-24 closed in July 2023. Applications for the 2024-25 program cycle will open Spring 2024. If you would like to be notified when applications open, please contact


If you are a nonprofit considering participating in the Board Fellowship Program, there are a few critical elements to ensure a successful experience:

Board Fellows voluntarily commit a similar amount of time per month as a full board member (no more than 10 hours/month); they attend board meetings, committee meetings, and complete their projects. We strongly encourage the Board Fellow(s) and their mentor(s) to set a regular meeting and communication schedule at the beginning of their engagement.

To ensure an effective and mutually beneficial working relationship, the organization must:

  • Assign a board member to serve as the Board Fellow’s primary mentor
  • Assign an executive staff member as a primary point of contact with the organization
  • Provide a formal introduction to the organization and the expectations of board members
  • Enable the Board Fellow(s) to complete one or two meaningful, mutually beneficial projects
  • Complete a mid-year and final evaluation of the Board Fellow’s progress