The Open City Fellowship

From August 15 through September 15 at 11:59 PM ET we will be accepting applications for the 2023 Open City Fellowship! Details, and the Submittable application are below. If you have specific questions, please email fellowships@aaww.org. For the first time, the 2023 Open City Fellowship will be open to applicants based in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut

The Open City Fellowship is a unique opportunity for four emerging Asian American, Muslim, and Arab writers to publish narrative nonfiction on the vibrant East Asian, South and Southeast Asian, Arab and West Asian, and North and East African communities of the tristate areaNew York City. The Fellowship is a nine-month stint for emerging writers of color to write about how Asian American and Muslim American lives are being lived in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.  It is open to writers who are based in the New York tristate area.

Explore our Open City Fellowship alumni here.

The Fellowship offers a $2,500 grant, skill-building workshops, and publishing opportunities to Fellows to write about the Asian American and Muslim American communities of the tristate area: New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut

The Fellowship offers a $2,500 grant, skill-building workshops, and publishing opportunities to Fellows to write about the Asian American and Muslim American communities of New York City.

A total of four Fellows will be selected for next year’s Open City Fellowship; three for the Neighborhoods/ Communities Fellowship and three for the Muslim Communities Fellowship.

The Fellowship term will begin in January 2023 and will end in September 2023. The deadline for submission is September 15, 2022.

We are looking for writers eager to hit the ground running covering Asian immigrant neighborhoods and writing about social justice issues—racial, class, and gender equality. Each Fellow must adopt a specific neighborhood or community and a specific theme (i.e., mental health, COVID-19 issues, LGBTQ+ issues, gentrification, etc.) and write stories along these intertwined geographical/cultural and thematic beats. We’re looking for writers to create deft, engaging narratives that bring the face, name, place, and heart of the community to issues like gentrification, immigration, Islamophobia, community policing, and racial and gender discrimination.

Open City is one of the projects of The Margins, the online publication of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop. It documents the pulse of metropolitan Asian America and Muslim America as it’s being lived right now.

The Margins features  new fiction and poetry, literary and cultural criticism, and interviews with writers and artists. The Margins is the recipient of a Whiting Literary Magazine award, and our stories have been linked to by the Wall Street Journal, the New Inquiry, Literary Hub, and the New York Times. Our contributors include Chang-rae Lee, Jessica Hagedorn, Vijay Iyer, Bhanu Kapil, Katie Kitamura, Hua Hsu, Amitava Kumar, and Yoko Ogawa.

Previous Open City Fellows have gone on to write and report for MSNBC, Granta, Al Jazeera America, the American Prospect, and Slate, among other outlets. Their works during their time as Fellows have been picked up by NPR, the Atlantic Cities, and the New York Times.

Consider applying if:

  • You are a strong, voice-driven storyteller who cares about social justice movements and wants to transport readers to immigrant neighborhoods and communities;
  • You are willing to spend time reporting on NYC’s Asian and Muslim neighborhoods in the tristate area, are excited to cultivate trust and sources in your chosen neighborhood, and raring to talk to people about their lives, hopes, and fears;
  • You understand the urgency in writing stories that depict how it is to be an Asian, a Muslim, and an immigrant in today’s America;
  • Can demonstrate nonfiction writing experience and a dedication to developing a writing career;
  • 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 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 funding.

Fellowship Program

The Open City Fellowship is a nine-month program. The 2023 fellowship term will run from January through September.

STIPEND: $2,500 for the duration of the nine-month grant period, delivered in three installments.

PUBLICATION OPPORTUNITIES:  We will publish two stories written over the nine-month period ion our online magazine, The Margins. The first of these pieces will be a short -form story (1,000 words maximum) and the second will be a long- form piece (2,500 words minimum).

OPEN CITY WORKSHOP SERIES: We have created 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 Senior Editor Noel Pangilinan and will have access to potential resources from the CUNY Journalism School.

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

Open City Fellows will be required to:

  • Meet with the Open City editor every two weeks.
  • Attend six writing workshop sessions, which may include feedback from the Open City editor
  • Attend occasional get-togethers with all fellows
  • Attend an initial orientation meeting

Application

MATERIALS

SUBMITTABLE APPLICATION FORM: Here, we will ask you to specify which neighborhoods you are uniquely qualified to cover for Open City.

PROJECT PROPOSAL: Identify two story ideas tied by a common theme in your chosen neighborhood. The project proposal should be 900 words maximum, and should outline the two stories (one short-form story of up to 1,000 words max, and one long form story of at least, 2,500 words) that you will write over the course of your Fellowship.

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

WRITING SAMPLES: Attach two or three 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.

REQUIREMENTS

During the fellowship term, fellows must live in the tristate area of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.

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.

SELECTION PROCESS

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 Lily Philpott, Director of Programs and Partnerships, and Senior Editor Noel Pangilinan, as well as an outside jury comprised of literary and journalism professionals. Finalist applicants will be interviewed in person or online, depending on COVID-19 related safety measures upheld by the Workshop.

HOW TO APPLY

All applicants must carefully read our FAQ before applying to determine whether they are eligible. The Fellowship is open to writers who are based in the tristate area, or who can claim residency in New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut, but temporarily relocated due to the pandemic.

To be considered, you must apply by filling out the Submittable application. If you have additional questions, please feel free to contact us at fellowships fellowships@aaww.org.

There is no application fee. We do not accept handwritten documents, letters of recommendation, or support materials.

Current Fellows may apply for a second round of Fellowship funding if they have completed all the requirements of their current Fellowship. Fellows will need to wait a year after their second Fellowship to apply again. Past Open City Fellows prior to 2021 may apply for the 2023 Open City Fellowships.