The Open City Fellowship


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. 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. 

Our outgoing 2023 Open City cohort are the incredible Dena Igusti, Rohan Zhou-Lee, Sheikh Rubana Hossain, and Wally Suphap!

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.

A total of four Fellows will be selected for next year’s Open City Fellowship.

The Fellowship term will begin in January 2024 and will end in September 2024.

We are looking for writers eager to hit the ground running covering Asian immigrant neighborhoods and writing about social justice issues that intersect with race, class, and gender equality. Each Fellow must adopt a specific neighborhood or community and a specific theme (i.e., mental health, LGBTQ+ issues, gentrification, local arts initiatives, etc.) and write stories that  intertwine these 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 edit for MSNBC, the New Yorker, Curbed, the New York Times, TIME, Granta, and Al Jazeera America, 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 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. While we prefer some publication record, we think the strength of your work is more important than its home;
  • 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 2024 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: For each fellow, we will publish two stories developed during the nine-month period in our online magazine, The Margins

OPEN CITY CRAFT SERIES: We have created a special craft 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 craft series may deal with interviewing, photography, multimedia storytelling, and fact-checking.

GUIDANCE AND MENTORSHIP: You’ll receive mentorship and editorial guidance from Senior Editor Noel Pangilinan.

Open City Fellows will be required to:

  • Meet with the AAWW team every two weeks
  • Attend six craft sessions
  • Attend occasional get-togethers with all fellows
  • Attend an initial orientation meeting
  • Publish two stories in The Margins



SUBMITTABLE APPLICATION FORM: Here, we will ask you to specify which neighborhoods and/or communities 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 include pitches for 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.


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.


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 craft sessions, 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 Vandana Pawa, 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.


All applicants must carefully read our FAQ before applying to determine whether they are eligible. 

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

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 2022 may apply for the 2024 Open City Fellowships.