Open City Fellowship

The Open City Fellowship supports emerging Asian American writers who are passionate about telling stories from Asian American communities in New York City.

Consider applying if:

You are a strong, voice-driven storyteller who cares about social justice movements and transporting readers to the creative subcultures of color in places like Flushing, Queens and Sunset Park, Brooklyn.

You possess an entrepreneurial spirit and understand that building a career as a writer includes social networking and developing a subject or geographical beat/expertise.

You are submitting work to magazines, journals, or other publications and can demonstrate nonfiction writing experience and a dedication to developing a writing career. While we prefer some publication record, we think the strength of your work is more important than its home. We’re looking for writers who are excited to take their writing to the “next level,” and may be dedicated to writing after the fellowship term is up.

You are excited about getting your hands dirty. This fellowship is for writers who thrive on being “in the field” meeting people and cultivating trust and sources in your neighborhood. Facetime with the community is an important part of this fellowship.

You are looking to grow and have some experience with the editorial process. You should view this as an opportunity to build a network and take advantage of AAWW’s creative initiatives. 

The Open City Fellowship is a unique initiative that combines publication opportunities, journalism training, and money.

Fellowship Program

The Open City Fellowship is a nine month program. The 2020 fellowship term will run from January through September.

STIPEND: $2,500 for the duration of the nine-month grant period;

PUBLICATION OPPORTUNITIES: We will publish two longform pieces you’ve written over the nine-month period on our online magazine, Open City. We want these pieces to be special and we hope you will too. We’ll also publish four shorter pieces, ideally things you’ll write in preparation for these longer works;

OPEN CITY WORKSHOP SERIES: We’re creating a special workshop series just for Open City Fellows. We’ll launch with a special orientation that will feature professional writers and former fellows. Future sessions in the workshop series may deal with interviewing, the craft of writing, photography, multimedia storytelling, and data research;

GUIDANCE AND MENTORSHIP: You’ll receive mentorship and editorial guidance from Open City Editor Noel Pangilinan and will have access to potential resources from the CUNY Journalism School;

AAWW PERKS: You’ll receive free membership to the AAWW, discounts, free access to general programs;

WRITING WORKSHOP: One free writing workshop organized through AAWW ($200 value).

Previous fellows have gone on to write and report for Granta, Al Jazeera America, the New Yorker, among other outlets. Their work during our fellowship has been picked up by NPR, CityLab, and the New York Times.  


Open City Fellows will be required to

— meet with the Open City editor every two to three weeks.

— attend six writing workshop sessions, which may include feedback from the Open City editor;

— attend occasional get-togethers with all fellows; and

— attend an initial all-day orientation at the start of the nine-month term.



SUBMITTABLE APPLICATION FORM: In this form, we ask you to specify which neighborhoods you are uniquely qualified to cover for Open City;

PROJECT PROPOSAL: Identify two to three story ideas tied up by a common theme in your chosen neighborhood (900 words max)

CV: Upload a 1-3 page resume or CV that also includes publication history

WRITING SAMPLES: 2 or 3 writing samples that best illustrate the kinds of articles you would like to write for Open City. Samples should not be more than three pages each and must be uploaded to the application form as PDFs or MS Word documents. They should be double-spaced, in 12-point font size, and should not include publication information.


During the fellowship term, fellows must live in one of New York City’s five boroughs: Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan, Staten Island, or Queens. 

Asian American and Asian diasporic writers are eligible to apply. “Asian American” is defined broadly to include not just, say, Chinese and Indian Americans, but also Asian American adoptee and multiracial writers, Indo-Caribbean writers, and West Asians, such as Iranians and Arab Americans.


The Open City Fellows are chosen based on the following criteria:

— Relevance, quality, and cohesiveness of project proposal;

— Merit of past work, based on submitted work sample;

— Demonstrated ability to cover the proposed neighborhoods;

— Career record, as described in the resume;

— Demonstrated willingness to take the most advantage of the Fellowship: e.g., to attend ALL trainings and workshops, and take advantage of publishing opportunities.

Applicants will be assessed based on a multi-round selection process, in which the applicant pool grows smaller in each round. The assessment process will involve Editorial Director Jyothi Natarajan, and Open City Editor Noel Pangilinan, as well as an outside jury comprised of literary and journalism professionals. Finalist applicants will be interviewed in person.