Brown & George Kaiser Family Foundation Announce Partnerships

The Swearer Center and Watson Institute will launch summer and academic-year programs for undergraduate and graduate students in partnership with the George Kaiser Family Foundation
March 7, 2018

The Howard R. Swearer Center for Public Service and the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University are thrilled to announce two new programs in partnership with the George Kaiser Family Foundation (GKFF) in Tulsa, OK. 

“This is an exciting time for the Swearer Center as we continue to build community relationships beyond Brown,” Swearer Center Executive Director and Associate Dean for Engaged Scholarship Mathew Johnson said. “We look forward to creating experiences in partnership with the George Kaiser Family Foundation that will help deepen students’ understandings of civic and community engagement, pairing classroom and community knowledge.” 

The Swearer Center and GKFF have created the Brown in Tulsa Kaiser Fellowship, a summer program offering up to seven students the opportunity to spend eight weeks in Tulsa, exploring and engaging with issues that affect the greater city. The students will intern at nonprofit agencies in Tulsa for the duration of the fellowship, gaining exposure to the intersection of policy, philanthropy and community engagement.

In addition to their internships, students participate in a cohort-based Fellowship program which includes an orientation, sessions featuring guest speakers, off-site visit and other engagement opportunities. Students will also complete a series of reflection assignments to ensure that they are applying concepts and transferring knowledge between the classroom and the community. At the conclusion of the internship, all interns will prepare and present insights from their summer experience to the GKFF team, Brown in Tulsa staff and agency partners.

As outlined in “Community Engaged Scholarship and Action,” the Swearer Center is committed to building an integrative model of engaged education and a new model of partnership with communities. The Center works to integrate academic excellence in all it does, engaging and partnering with communities, faculty and administrative colleagues to encourage and support student integration of their academic, co-curricular and experiential pathways.

The Watson Institute, in partnership with the GKFF, is offering a unique graduate-level fellowship program. The Foundation will fund 50% tuition for two students to complete Brown’s one-year Master of Public Affairs (MPA) program. In accepting the Fellowship, each student will commit to spend two years living and working in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in a policy-related position upon completion of their MPA degree. 

“Thanks to the commitment of Brown alumni like Ken Levit and the George Kaiser Family Foundation, the Watson Institute continues to increase opportunities to make graduate-level programs accessible to all students. In so many areas today — the environment, security, public health, inequality and access to opportunity, etc. — we face monumental public policy challenges. At the same time, we know that many innovative and highly creative solutions are being pursued by municipalities like Tulsa. We’re eager to engage students and practitioners from the region, learn from their experiences, and hopefully participate with them in the generation of solutions,” said Edward Steinfeld, Director of the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs and professor of political science.

Students will build skills in data analysis, program evaluation and presentation, in the classroom and in Tulsa while placed at an action-learning policy consultancy with career coaching. The Fellowship experience also includes a two-week global policy immersion abroad and runs on an accelerated June - May schedule. 

The Master of Public Affairs program at the Watson Institute prepares students to be public policy leaders, analysts and advocates in government, politic and the nonprofit and private sectors. Students gain problem-solving, quantitative, communication and managerial skills. The MPA program gives students the tools to develop effective, evidence-based solutions in any policy area from health and the environment to security and governance.

GKFF Executive Director Ken Levit ‘87 is thrilled to be part of the strategic partnership between Brown and the Foundation. 

"There is a great synergy between the dynamism of Brown students and the broad range of on-the-ground efforts now underway in Tulsa," Levit said. "We are excited to have a connection with talented and energetic young people who are ready to make a tangible impact on the Tulsa community. There are dozens of ways we can connect Brown students to the various place-making and poverty-fighting projects that are emerging in our city."  

The Swearer Center works to connect the capacities of the university and community to address inequalities in our society and communities; create, share and apply knowledge for the public good; and educate and prepare students for lives of effective action.

The Watson Institute seeks to promote a just and peaceful world through research, teaching and public engagement. The Institute’s work focuses on development, security, and governance, encompassing all the world’s regions. The Institute is a community of scholars and practitioners whose work aims to help us understand and address the world's great challenges, such as globalization, economic uncertainty, security threats, environmental degradation and poverty. 
The GKFF supports the city of Tulsa in three key areas: parent engagement and early education, health and family well-being, civic enhancement. GKFF supports early childhood education initiatives, as well as continued support for children and families, to ensure each child reaches his or her full potential. GKFF also works to bridge existing health care and service gaps in its community by ensuring that families receive the basic services they need to raise healthy and thriving children. The Foundation also invests in a culturally vibrant and economically robust Tulsa to ensure a thriving community that affords opportunities for all of its citizens to enjoy a high quality of life.
Visit the Watson Institute MPA website for more information on the graduate-level fellowship and the Swearer Center website to learn more about the undergraduate opportunity.

Sarah C. Baldwin spoke to several people who were integral in building the partnership. Click here to read a feature story via the Watson Institute