White House Fellows
Founded in 1964 by Lyndon B. Johnson, the White House Fellows program is one of America's most prestigious programs for leadership and public service. White House Fellowships offer exceptional young men and women first-hand experience working at the highest levels of the federal government.
Selected individuals typically spend a year working as a full-time, paid Fellow to senior White House Staff, Cabinet Secretaries and other top-ranking government officials. Fellows also participate in an education program consisting of roundtable discussions with renowned leaders from the private and public sectors, and trips to study U.S. policy in action both domestically and internationally. Fellowships are awarded on a strictly non-partisan basis.
Adopted in 1965 by the President's Commission on White House Fellowships:
The purpose of the White House Fellows program is to provide gifted and highly motivated young Americans with some first-hand experience in the process of governing the Nation and a sense of personal involvement in the leadership of society.
It is essential to the healthy functioning of our system that we have in the non-governmental sector a generous supply of leaders who have an understanding -- gained first hand -- of the challenges that our national government faces. In a day when the individual feels increasingly remote from the centers of power and decision, such leaders can help their fellow citizens comprehend the process by which the Nation is governed.
In this country today, we produce a great number of skilled professionals. But too few of this intellectual elite provide the society with statesmanlike leadership and guidance in public affairs. If the sparsely settled American colonies of the late 18th century could produce Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Monroe, Madison, Hamilton, Franklin, and others of superlative talent, breadth and statesmanship, should we not be able to produce in this generation ten times that number? We are not doing so.
Surely the raw material is still there. And just as surely more must be done in the development of our ablest young people to inspire and facilitate the emergence of such leaders and statesmen. Their horizons and experience must be broadened to give them a sense of personal involvement in the leadership of society, a vision of greatness for the society, and a sense of responsibility for bringing that greatness to reality.
The White House Fellows Program is designed to give superbly qualified young Americans precisely those experiences.
Declaring that "a genuinely free society cannot be a spectator society," President Lyndon B. Johnson announced the establishment of the White House Fellows Program in the East Room of the White House in October 1964. Prompted by the suggestion of John W. Gardner, then President of the Carnegie Corporation, President Johnson's intent was to draw individuals of exceptionally high promise to Washington for one year of personal involvement in the process of government.
The White House Fellowship was created as a non-partisan program. It has strictly maintained this tradition during both Republican and Democratic administrations and, through the cross-fertilization of ideas and experience, has enriched the practice of public policy for more than four decades.
The mission of the non-partisan White House Fellows Program, as envisioned by President Johnson, was in his words, "to give the Fellows first hand, high-level experience with the workings of the Federal government and to increase their sense of participation in national affairs." In return for the Fellowship year, President Johnson expected the Fellows to "repay that privilege" when they left by "continuing to work as private citizens on their public agendas." He hoped that the Fellows would contribute to the nation as future leaders.
Today, the mission remains the same: to encourage active citizenship and service to the Nation.
See President Barack Obama’s message commemorating the 50th anniversary here.