Civic Science Fellow

Location: Remote, occasional travel to Civic Science Fellow program events/workshops within the United States

Status: Full time, Exempt

Reports to: Senior Director, Philanthropic Advising

Fellowship Term: March 2024 to September 2025 (18-month)

About the Science Philanthropy Alliance

The Science Philanthropy Alliance (Alliance) advances scientific discovery through visionary philanthropy—investing to address society’s most pressing issues. These issues range from fighting the rise and spread of infectious diseases to reversing the harmful effects of environmental changes, and so much more. We work with distinguished external science advisors representing multiple disciplines; a skilled team of philanthropic advisors; an in-house corps of talented young scientists; and a membership base of leading science funders. By sharing best practices, differing perspectives, and goals, we transform thoughts and desires into effective action plans.

The philanthropic sector, or voluntary support for the public good, has a long and robust history in the U.S., beginning in the early 20th century.  In 2022, Americans gave $499.33 billion to nonprofit institutions with $469B coming from individuals, including family foundation grants and bequests.

Given the expense and nature of the research enterprise, philanthropic dollars are essential to advancing science.  Compared to government grants, private philanthropy provides a relatively small amount, however it is critical for projects considered too risky or requiring long-term funding. Philanthropy supports researchers at all career levels, individual projects, equipment and other infrastructure, including construction and maintenance of laboratories or institutes.

The Alliance provides advisory services and learning opportunities that help philanthropists focus their interests in expanding the world’s scientific knowledge. We accomplish this by understanding the opportunities and complexities philanthropists face in the daunting quest to fund basic science. We provide advice and learning opportunities for individuals and foundations so they can help answer scientific questions, solve big problems, and further our knowledge about the natural world. By serving as impartial advisers to philanthropists, promoting collaboration among those who are interested in this vital stage of scientific discovery, and bringing together donors and top scientists, the Alliance aims to substantially increase philanthropic funding for fundamental research and to create a community of funders for discovery-driven scientific inquiry.

The Rita Allen Foundation Civic Science Fellow at the Science Philanthropy Alliance

The goal of the Civic Science Fellows program is to catalyze widespread, inclusive engagement with emerging science and its societal implications. In the face of rapidly changing culture, media, and science, the program is being designed to create new capacity across organizations working at the many interfaces of science and society. Civic Science Fellows are cross-disciplinary thinkers working in partnership with diverse communities, institutions, scientific leaders, and funders.

The Alliance, in partnership with the Rita Allen Foundation, seeks a Civic Science Fellow to co-create civic science tools, knowledge, and best practices that can inform and inspire philanthropy for basic science. The fellow will work closely with the Science Philanthropy Alliance, including its member philanthropic organizations and research institution partners.

At the core of the Alliance lies our advising work. Our staff understands that each philanthropist journey is unique and therefore provides customized advising services to provide necessary support regardless of where an organization is. The Alliance advises close to 70 organizations annually supporting their philanthropic efforts from everything from defining mission and vision to sourcing funding opportunities. Our advising projects often culminate in either a landscape analysis or a funder convening to showcase how philanthropy can support basic science that will move science fields forward. The scope of these projects is designed for the individual funder, but often the information is also useful to others in the larger philanthropic community.  The civic science fellow will support the advising team on such projects and the culmination of this work would include a suite of packaged materials and/or a report/member practice document on the work completed throughout the fellowship.

In addition to contributing to the advising work of the Science Philanthropy Alliance, the Civic Science Fellow will be part of a cohort of fellows funded by multiple funders across several organizations. Fellows will participate in a civic science learning environment to inform their work and add to a growing body of knowledge about effective science engagement.

The selected fellow will be paid a salary plus benefits for the fellowship term. She/he/they will work remotely with the Science Philanthropy Alliance team during the 18-month fellowship, beginning no later than March 2024. Candidates must be US citizens or green card holders.


  • The fellow is expected to undertake and complete at least one advising project, drawing on existing as well as new research, listening, and experimentation, to inform and inspire philanthropy for basic science. The fellow will think creatively and use his or her ingenuity to design and accomplish the project(s).
  • The fellow will work with the Alliance and selected member organizations (science foundations and philanthropic organizations) to investigate, develop, and test different approaches to engaging with funders on issues at the intersection of science and society—which may include the societal case for funding basic science, connections between science and other philanthropic interests, and inclusive and effective approaches to supporting emerging science.
  • As part of the design of the project(s), the fellow will share findings with the Alliance, the Civic Science Fellow program community, science research institutions, and other audiences poised to strengthen basic science, taking advantage of convenings and knowledge-sharing platforms as appropriate.
  • The fellow will agree to attend and participate in all in-person and remote learning opportunities that are part of the Rita Allen Foundation Civic Science Fellow program during his or her term as a fellow.


  • Five-plus years’ experience in a field related to civic science or science and technology communications, including but not limited to journalism or media, behavioral science, fundraising and development, philanthropy, communications, information design, collective action, or science with a strong engagement component.
  • Experience in working across different communications methods—long- and short-form written communications, in-person communications and presentations, publications, multimedia, and other innovative communications tools and channels.
  • The ability to embed diversity, equity, and inclusion in her/his/their work, aligned with the goals of both the Civic Science Fellows program and the Science Philanthropy Alliance.
  • Interest in connecting communications research and practice.
  • Prepared to propose, independently manage, and execute at least one project with the potential to contribute new knowledge and innovative ideas to science philanthropy field.
  • Experience working in biological or physical sciences, math, technology, or engineering, as well as experience communicating about emerging science such as data science/artificial intelligence/machine learning, neuroscience, and ocean science are of particular interest.


The Alliance offers a comprehensive benefits package including a competitive salary, medical/dental/disability/life insurance benefits, retirement plan participation and flexible spending accounts, vacation, personal, and volunteer leave benefits. The annual salary range for this position is $75,000 – $85,000.


Application Process

Please submit your application to here by February 9, 2024. Applications must include the following:

  • Cover letter
  • Resume
  • Two samples of science or technology writing for a nonscientist audience

The Science Philanthropy Alliance and the Rita Allen Foundation are committed to fostering diversity and inclusion in science philanthropy and encourage candidates of all backgrounds to apply.

Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors

The Science Philanthropy Alliance is currently a project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, a 501c3 nonprofit. Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors celebrates the uniqueness of our staff, our partners, and the communities we serve. We are committed to inclusion with the goal of cultivating a culture of belonging and acceptance. We strive to embed this value in our philanthropic work to advance a more just, equitable and sustainable world.

Location: US Locations Only