The Harvard Graduate School of Design Community Service Fellowship Program (CSFP) provides opportunities for GSD students to participate in summer fellowships at nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and in the public service sector while shaping their career trajectory in design. Since 2007, the CSFP has partnered with various organizations working on affordable housing, the arts, the environment, and community-focused design projects, striking a mutually beneficial—and transformational—partnership.

Fellows are selected from a competitive pool of students pursuing extraordinary community-based design work experience. In 2022–2023, the GSD awarded CSF grants to 14 students. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, each Fellow receives a living allowance of $8,000 for ten-week-long internships.

At their summer experience, students apply skills learned in academic settings to address public needs, working in the field on a project selected exclusively for the CSF. Internships are designed to expose students to various environments and projects focusing on ecology, conservation, heritage spaces, green development, housing and resident services, and neighborhood revitalization, to name a few examples from last year’s Fellowship class.

Headshot of Elaine Zmuda MLA I AP ’24

Elaine Zmuda MLA I AP ’24 (pictured), recipient of the William A. Doebele Community Service Fellowship, interned at the Sweet Water Foundation in Chicago, where Emmanuel Pratt LF ’17 serves as executive director. Zmuda embraced the opportunity to research, design, build, and activate a new community space, The Healing Garden, that “truly heals the past scars of disinvestment and harm in the neighborhood while providing all residents, but especially children, a space to play, come together, and reflect.” The experience left the Fellow “empowered to begin community-focused design projects, even those beyond my academic training. I quickly learned to work with people of diverse skills, from carpenters to educators to scientists. I was able to use my skills to strengthen our project while also learning to think in different ways. I now see more clearly what is important for me to continue in my future practice: working on teams of people with different backgrounds, a variety of activities that can be done at different time scales, such as a communal garden to tend daily, planning projects that may take years, and integrating art into practice.”

Four team members farming in soil

Photo of team members farming as part of the work at the Sweet Water Foundation in Chicago.

Headshot of Ian Erickson MArch I ’25

Internships extend to urban settings and cultural environments of a different realm. In the words of Ian Erickson MArch I ’25 (pictured), the recipient of the Harvard Club of New York Community Service Fellowship who worked at the Rhizome arts organization housed at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York City, the internship was “indispensable in allowing me to access and participate in cultural spaces that would otherwise be extremely difficult to access, coming from an architecture background . . . I was able to work on and contribute to a range of projects and initiatives with Rhizome, in addition to furthering an ongoing research project into . . . virtual worlds within Rhizome’s ecosystem of experts in the fields of born-digital art and media archaeology.”

Headshot of Rosita Palladino MDes Ecologies ’24

The St. Lawrence County Arts Council hosted Rosita Palladino MDes Ecologies ’24 (pictured), recipient of the Wendy Evans Joseph MArch ’81 Community Service Fund, to engage in cultural vitality projects ranging from skate park design in Potsdam, New York, to research for the Metro and 4Culture Strategic Art Plan. One of the council’s key initiatives is to select artists to participate in public art projects. Among the council’s featured artists is Matthew Mazzotta LF ’18 and Guggenheim Fellow ’19. The opportunity to foster art appreciation and inspire creative expression helped the Fellow refine her interests and learn how and where to apply her prior and newly learned knowledge.

Headshot of Enrique Mutis MAUD ’24

Enrique Mutis MAUD ’24 (pictured), also a recipient of the Carl and Lily Pforzheimer Foundation Fellowship, developed an artist-in-residence program for a rural site outside of Atlanta as part of the Destination Design School of Agricultural Estates internship. Creating a concept design package for potential artists was “an excellent opportunity to test my interpersonal skills, broker divergent opinions from the stakeholders, and arrive at solutions driven by our collective efforts,” said Mutis.

For these students, the opportunity to become absorbed in a project, meaningfully collaborate with colleagues and stakeholders, and create an impact on the ground was unparalleled. As Community Service Fellowship recipients explore the intersection of academic theory and field experience, they gain valuable information needed to chart a path in design. Zmuda, who interned at Sweet Water, said, “This was an amazing summer for me, one that both challenged and comforted me . . . It was a completely different education, one that I would otherwise not be able to find.”


For any questions on the Community Service Fellows, please contact Courtney Ward.