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Changes to the ICANN Fellowship Program

29 August 2018

In my last blog about the ICANN Fellowship Program, I wrote about the impending community consultation to review and revise the program to reflect the needs of the community. That process is now complete and we have a proposed way forward.

The program's goal is to strengthen the diversity of the multistakeholder model by creating a broader base of knowledgeable constituents from underserved and underrepresented communities around the world.

Over the past few months, we have taken a closer look at existing processes to ensure the goals and purpose reflect current and anticipated future community needs. The community has also asked that we implement mechanisms to help collect the necessary data in order to better measure and evaluate program activities. Understanding the return on investment is key to these efforts.

Changes will go into effect beginning with the ICANN65 application cycle which opens in November 2018.

What Has Been Done

We began with a consultation to assess the community's perceptions on several aspects of the program, including purpose, goals, size, and fellows' engagement.

We then summarized the input which informed the proposal that went out for public comment. The staff report [PDF, 210 KB] on the public comments was released on 10 August 2018. A comprehensive community input status report can be found here.

ICANN Fellowship Program Changes

Feedback Highlights

The community offered valuable insight and recommendations. Overall, there is a call for increased Supporting Organizations (SOs)/Advisory Committees (ACs) involvement selecting and mentoring fellows, more data collection to measure the program's impact, and an enhanced focus on active policy engagement.

Category Community Consultation Public Comment

SO/AC Input

GNSO Council


Additional Input

Draft FY19 Operating Plan and Budget community comments

Travel Support Guidelines Community Consultation Process

Middle East and Adjoining Country Strategy Working Group (MEAC SWG)

GAC Underserved Regions Working Group individuals



Native Public Media (NARALO At-Large structure)

10 former fellows and 2 additional individuals

The New Fellowship Program

New Program Numbers

Future fellowship cohorts will consist of 45 participants per ICANN meeting, a 25% reduction from years past. Of the 45 slots, seven (7) will go to Fellowship mentors. We will uphold and enforce the rule which states an individual can only serve as a fellow a total of three instances.

New Program Metrics

Fellows will self-report in their applications on the metrics desired by the community. Returning fellows will be required to provide proof of engagement, with links and attachments where possible (and explanations where not feasible due to the nature of information). Diversity metrics will follow the categories of diversity suggested by the WS2 diversity subgroup.

New Program Metrics

New Program Processes

SOs/ACs will have increased involvement in the program by defining targets for desired skills, appointing Selection Committee members, and identifying mentors. SOs/ACs will each nominate one mentor, who will serve for one year; mentors will be empowered to suggest specific SO/AC tasks and work collaboratively to maximize the time and opportunity to actively contribute. Mentors will be evaluated in a uniform process.

New Program Processes

What's Next

We have updated the Selection Committee Criteria and issued an announcement calling for SO/AC nominees and diversity goals; the goals will be used to inform the outreach and promotion for the Fellowship Program carried out by ICANN org. We have also revised the selection criteria to reflect the input to date. The new Selection Committee will have the opportunity to review the new selection criteria before they are made public.

Roadmap | Fellowship Program Review

We will require ICANN Learn courses at the application stage to ensure fellows are better prepared. Concurrently, we are enhancing the existing pre-meeting ICANN Learn courses to improve fellows' knowledge of ICANN.

In addition, we will pilot the ICANN Fellowship Program Post-Meeting Report starting with ICANN63; this report will be produced by fellows and shared broadly with the community for increased transparency.

We are grateful for the support and guidance to date and look forward to working closely with the community and continuing to improve the ICANN Fellowship Program.


Sally Costerton

Sally Costerton

Sr. Advisor to President & SVP, Global Stakeholder Engagement and Interim President & CEO