Join us this fall to do creative work with a small cohort of young adults in a new gap-year fellowship.
Powderhouse is hosting a paid gap-year fellowship for young adults, running from 1 September 2022 through 26 May 2023. Over the course of the year, we’ll design, develop, and release several issues of a new, community-driven publication we’re creating. Together, we’ll choose themes for these issues—anything from “Virtual Reality” to “Gender & Fashion” to ”Secrets”—and then use those themes to inspire projects of our own design. Eventually, these projects will turn into the pieces that make up the publications we release.
The projects and pieces we make will explore all sorts of topics, and will also be grounded in a few, central skills. Just as writing is the primary tool at many publications, computation, narrative, and design will be our primary tools. We chose these tools not because we think everyone should be computer programmers, writers, or designers, but because these are powerful tools for thinking, problem-solving, and creating—no matter what work you do.
And, just to be clear. When we say computation, we don't mean AP Computer Science or Hour of Code. We mean programming computers to make art, doing data-rich science research, and making 3D models for fabrication. When we talk about narrative, we don’t mean five paragraph essays. We mean conducting interviews, editing films, and making meaning from data. When we talk about design, we mean everything from figuring out how the publication should look to learning to go from an idea to a prototype to a finished product in your personal projects.
And these skills will serve you well no matter where you’re headed.
Over the course of a year, fellows will spend most of their time pursuing hands-on projects of their own design investigating different themes for issues of our publication’s issues. These themes will be chosen collaboratively, each designed to support a wide variety of interests and projects. Work on each issue will begin with open-ended explorations of the theme, getting a shared understanding of the theme and its core ideas as we brainstorm and prototype to figure out projects to do. We’ll spend most of our time working on those projects. Only in the final weeks before we release an issue will we turn to sharing our work in publishable pieces.
Throughout, we will provide structured time for planning and doing projects; workshops in computation, narrative, and design; individual advising and support developing pieces; structures for group critique and revision; and, of course, a platform for publishing and sharing our work.
Great work requires time: This is a full-time fellowship, and Powderhouse will pay fellows ~$30,000 over nine months, the equivalent of a $40,000 annual salary. Healthcare, dental, vision, and retirement benefits will be provided, as will re-location support for those moving to the Boston area. Refer to the FAQ for more details.
For those interested, we will also offer individualized support with your transition to college or career, including:
We are looking for a small group of 5–10 people who are:
Because Powderhouse is running this fellowship to inform the design of future youth programming, it is also important that fellows are excited about sharing honest, critical reflections on their experience to help us learn from and improve the program.
We also think it’s important to be explicit about the social contract at the heart of the friendly, open-minded space we’re trying to create, one which encourages—rather than shuts down—expression and investigation. In this spirit, we want to share a few of the core responsibilities and expectations we see as central to the work we’ll be tackling together.
This fellowship will run from 1 September 2022 to 26 May 2022, 10AM–5PM each weekday, excluding state and federal holidays. In addition to this time, you’ll also spend a few (≤ 10) hours each week working independently—or in self-organized groups—on workshop materials, project development and revisions.
We will be based out of a small, two story workshop outside Davis Square in Somerville, MA. You’ll have 24/7 access to that space, as well as a co-working space in Kendall Square for those interested.
People are constantly asking young people to plan their future. We think this is a mistake; very few people’s lives go according to plan. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t invest in pursuing skills, perspectives, and interests that matter to you. We hope to offer fellows:
The application process for this program has three phases:
We will be accepting applications through 15 July 2022, but we will be admitting fellows on a rolling basis, so we encourage you to get started as soon as you’re able. You can expect an initial response to your application within 24 hours.
Below are some questions we thought folks might have. If you have a question that isn't answered here, please get in touch!
You’ll be learning from other fellows as well as from Powderhouse’s team alongside other experts and advisors from the community whom we’ll bring in to support particular projects and pieces.
We’ve been developing youth and adult programming since 2009, prototyping hardware, software, and media to support rigorous, creative work across a variety of disciplines. Academically, our backgrounds span math, physics, environmental engineering, creative writing, and community performance.
We believe that for many people, School doesn't work, with severe consequences. Although society invests in improving School-as-it-is, where will radically new approaches to School come from?
We’re trying to answer that question, and we hope you’ll help us do so!
We are accepting applications on a rolling basis through 15 July 2022. To get started, apply here, and we’ll be in touch within 24 hours about next steps.
The purpose of all this is to give you as much of a chance as possible to showcase what you’ll contribute to the program. We don’t care whether you’ve found traditional kinds of success before (in school, sports, or wherever). We care that you’re excited to work collaboratively to make great creative projects—and that you’re willing to work for it.
If you have ideas about how we can do this better (in general, or in your case in particular), please let us know.
As long as you’re eligible, all we’re looking for is an interest in computation, narrative, and design; friendly and critical collaboration; and a commitment to creating great projects and publications.
If you have any doubts about whether you’re a good fit, please get in touch. We’re happy to arrange a call to discuss the program in general and your particular situation.
As long as you feel like you are a good fit for the program, can speak English at a conversational level, are fully vaccinated against COVID, and are looking to transition to a postsecondary educational institution or a job (i.e. you are no longer in high school), you’re eligible to apply.
Note that you’ll be using programming and design tools, collaborating with colleagues, and sometimes traveling for projects. If you might need accommodations to do this (e.g. for reasons of disability) or if you have questions about any of the other eligibility requirements, please get in touch.
There is no cost to you; you will be paid. You will be responsible for your own housing and living expenses; although, we offer a stipend for re-location support for those moving to the Boston area.
You’ll be paid ~$785 weekly via direct deposit. This is the equivalent of a $40,000 annual salary. If you need a bank account, we can help you get set up with one. If for some reason direct deposit doesn’t fit your circumstances, let us know and we can work to accommodate you.
We’re looking for 4-9 creative, critical, and collaborative people who will bring a diverse set of skills and perspectives to this work. Everyone in your cohort will either be transitioning to a postsecondary educational institution (e.g. college) or looking to get a job after the fellowship. Everyone will be here because they are excited about computation, narrative, and design; interested in Powderhouse’s mission; and eager to do creative projects.
Unfortunately, not at this time.
“Special education” can mean many things, and we are committed to supporting people to be able to comfortably and effectively participate. As long as you are eligible, we will work closely with you to ensure you have all the support needed to participate. If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
We understand life happens. But, you are expected to treat this program as a full-time commitment. If you find that you are regularly missing sessions, we may ask you to leave the program and reapply when things have settled down for you. If you know already that you have a scheduling conflict, please get in touch with us to discuss it.
None. We will be working to create publications, and all fellows will be working on Mac products. All necessary equipment (e.g. laptop, tablet, and phone) will be provided if you don’t already have access to these. Fellows will have the opportunity to purchase loaner equipment at a discount at the end of the program.
Unfortunately, we do not offer academic credit yet. But, we are eager to help you prepare whatever materials (including a portfolio) may be required to translate your experience with Powderhouse into academic credit for prior experience and learning or any employee education programs which might be relevant.
This is a full-time commitment. You’ll be expected to be available 10AM–5PM, Monday–Friday (excluding federal and state holidays) for duration of the program. We also expect that you’ll spend some time (≤ 10 hours/week) outside of that schedule working independently or with other fellows on projects, revisions, and workshop materials.
Yes, but you’ll need to wait at least one month after receiving the decision on your previous application. If and when you do reapply, we’ll be looking at what has changed since your previous application.
“Disability” can mean many things, and we are committed to supporting people to be able to comfortably and effectively participate. As long as you are eligible, we will work closely with you to ensure you have all the support needed to participate. If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
We’ll be meeting 10AM–5PM, Monday–Friday from 1 September 2022–26 May 2023 (excluding state and federal holidays). Refer to the full calendar for details.
We’ll cover the costs for anything (within reason) you need to do the projects you tackle during the program.
The program will be run in English and will be accessible to folks who are conversational in English; there is no expectation that you are a native speaker. If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
We’ll begin the year creating a small publication around a theme focused on who we all are to give us some time and space to get to know each other and get acquainted with the publication process.
After that, we’ll collaboratively brainstorm, refine, and choose the themes of the publications we create together. No matter the theme, though, our interest in interdisciplinary work means we are especially interested in creative or poetic interpretations of the theme. So, within a theme, we are eager to co-design and develop project and piece ideas with you.
If you have a particular idea or direction of interest and are wondering whether it might fit within the program, please get in touch.
This is not a bootcamp or traditional skills-focused course. That means rather than working backwards from a pre-defined curriculum, we’ll be working forward from what the particular projects and pieces you’re tackling require.
Because this gap-year is part of our effort to design and prototype a replacement for high school, we are especially interested in helping you learn things you’re interested in. Throughout the fellowship, we’ll help you identify what you want to learn and work backwards from that to themes, projects, and pieces that you can pursue, documenting what you’ve learned along the way.
By the end of this fellowship, we aim for you to feel confident you could effectively contribute as a junior member or intern on a team tackling the design and production of pieces like Parable of the Polygons or How a Gray Painting Can Break Your Heart or Schematics: A Love Story. But let’s get a little more concrete.
Since we’ll be creating multimedia pieces and projects, we’ll be working with a variety of media: e.g. photo, video, audio, illustration, writing (and publishing all of this online). We will host workshops introducing the basics of working with each of these and offer structures for the critique and revision of work, with an eye toward visual, technical, and rhetorical design. As we finalize our pieces for publication, we’ll also work with external professionals (e.g. designers, editors, and developers) who will help us improve our work. You’ll leave with experience with the design process, clear best practices, and a curated collection of resources (including course materials) designed for self-study.
We require all participants to provide proof of booster and vaccination before attending. We’ll require daily temperature checks and offer regular on-site testing. Our studio will be equipped with sanitation stations. Participants will not be required to be masked indoors (though of course, you are welcome to mask if you’d like, and we will provide masks for anyone interested). If local guidances change before or during the program, we may reassess these plans.
Projects and pieces can be great in two ways: The output (i.e. the project or piece) can be great, or the input (i.e. your process developing the work) can be great. In our experience, aiming to create actually great output often leads to great input.
To get more specific, we think great pieces are:
Note that although projects and pieces will be regularly workshopped and critiqued, we offer no grades (numeric or otherwise) evaluating projects and pieces.
We want to make sure that you take your next step after this fellowship comfortably. This means we’ll provide individualized support through things like:
In cases where we cannot provide the kind of transition support you need, we will work to find community partners and other services instead. If you have a particular transition support need you’d like to discuss, please get in touch.
Yes. We offer full healthcare, dental, vision, and retirement benefits. You can read more about the benefits we offer here.
Tinder is the material that can turn a spark into a fire. Kindling refers to what turns that first flame into a small fire, e.g. the sticks and twigs just big enough catch and light the main fuel that will sustain the fire.
Our work often involves helping people spark their own intellectual and creative journeys. And we hope that our publications can offer the same to our audience, in small ways.
And not for nothing: Powderhouse’s namesake is a gunpowder magazine. Whether the forest fire that clears out the brush while fertilizing the soil for something new, the revolutionary muzzleloader, or the spark that leads to a lifelong passion, we have an affection for the fragile and new, and hope to provide some space where it can gather momentum until it can be self-sustaining.
You’ll retain full ownership of all the work you do and artifacts you create in the program. However, Powderhouse will retain a license to be able to publish and adapt the work you create in the program. You can read the full policy here. If you have any questions or concerns about this, please let us know, and we’ll be happy to work with you to figure it out.