Kindling Fellowship, Fall 2023

  1. What is this?
  2. Apply
  3. FAQ

Applications for the 2023 Kindling Fellowship are currently closed. You are welcome to submit an application, but you will be placed on a waiting list and we will reach out if a spot opens up.

What is this?

At Powderhouse, we believe we grow best when learning, learn best when creating, and create best when creating something which matters to us. We love spending time around people who are doing that, especially when doing that is part of answering big questions like, “Who am I? What do I care about? And what am I going to do about it?” That’s why we are working to design and launch a tuition-free independent school.

As part of our design process, we have started a paid, year-long fellowship program for young adults who are currently in 11th or 12th grade, or have just left high school. We’re calling it the Kindling Fellowship, named after the small sticks and twigs you use to start a fire.

Ready to join us? Apply here! If you have any quesitons, email us at or text us at 617.616.8653

Helping people go from spark to flame to fire, this program offers three kinds of support:

  1. We help you figure out what you care about and how to bring your interests to life by turning your interests and goals into creative projects you share with real audiences in the real world
  2. We help you take your next steps after school, whether that means finding, getting into, and affording college; launching a business or career; or just adulting and life stuff in general. Whether it’s healthcare, housing, immigration status, or taxes, we’ll do our best to help—or to find someone who can.
  3. We help you develop skills you’re interested in, with a focus on computation (e.g. programming), narrative (e.g. photography, videography, writing, and storytelling), and design (e.g. building, graphic design, digital design)

Throughout the year, we do this by helping you come up with projects you want to do, supporting you to make them happen, and then helping you to polish and publish those projects. Some of these will go into your personal website, others will be released as part of publications we put together as a group.

All this happens while you get paid ~$785/week (on top of benefits like access to your own MacBook, iPad, and iPhone; a project stipend to fund your work; 24/7 access to a workshop space) and individualized support to figure out and accomplish your goals.

What does it look like?

The Fall 2023 program will run weekdays from 10AM–5PM (excluding federal and state holidays) from 1 September 2023 through 31 May 2024. Over the course of the year, you’ll spend most of your time doing projects of your own design, projects connected to your own goals as well as the themes we choose as a group for our publications.

Last year, we came up with the themes Keeping Secrets (where people worked on everything from codebreaking to podcasts about family secrets), Heavenly Bodies (everything from astrophotography to beauty standards), and Ghost Stories (everything from robotic ouija boards to book clubs about family trauma).

Fellows in our first two cohorts joined us for all sorts of reasons, from different backgrounds, all with their own hopes and dreams for their future and their time in Kindling. They had a wide range of career goals as well as passions and creative interests…

Throughout the year, we did all sorts of projects: collaborative, individual, digital, physical, artistic, academic, technical, hands-on…

Whatever the project, fellows designed and developed them independently, based on their goals and interests, and worked to make them excellent. Powderhouse helped everyone come up with their ideas, design them as projects they could tackle in one or two weeks, and then learn the skills they needed and manage their time to get them done.

Who is this for?

We are looking for about a dozen people who are eligible for the program and…

  • transitioning to college or career,
  • interested in exploring computation, narrative, and design,
  • excited to collaborate with a diverse group of youth,
  • and committed to doing excellent, professional quality work,

…all with support from Powderhouse’s staff and our community of mentors.

Because Powderhouse is running this fellowship to design a high school alternative, it is also important that fellows are excited about helping us to try out new ideas and sharing honest, critical reflections so we can learn from and improve the program.

What is expected of us?

We think it’s important to be explicit about the promises we make to one another. Keeping our promises to one another is essential to create spaces which encourage—rather than shut down—great work. So, we wanted to share a few of the core responsibilities and expectations we see as central to our work:

What does Powderhouse owe to fellows?

  • A salary, equipment, benefits, and any other resources necessary to make creatively and technically ambitious work possible
  • Individualized and small group support for both creative projects as well as college and career transitions
  • Critical conversations about—as well as celebration of—fellows’ work and progress toward their goals

What do fellows owe Powderhouse?

  • Forty hours a week of your best, focused effort to do creative work advancing your goals, including some time outside our 7h work days to meet deadlines or attend special events
  • An openness to critical feedback and a willingness to develop new skills and perspectives outside your comfort zone
  • Thoughtful participation in and feedback on the program to help us improve it as part of Powderhouse’s mission

What do fellows owe each other?

  • Openness to collaboration with those with different skills, backgrounds, and perspectives
  • Supportive, critical conversations aiming to understand and improve one another's work
  • Transparent, reliable, deadline-oriented collaboration

When is this happening?

The Kindling Fellowship will run from 1 September 2023 to 31 May 2024, 10AM–5PM each weekday (excluding state and federal holidays). Some weeks, you’ll be asked to dedicate a few more hours (≤ 10) to meet deadlines or attend special events.

  • Labor Day
  • Indigenous People’s Day
  • Veteran’s Day
  • Thanksgiving
  • Christmas
  • New Year’s
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
  • George Washington’s Birthday
  • Patriot’s Day
  • Memorial Day

Where is this happening?

We will be working out of a small, two story workshop outside Davis Square in Somerville, MA. You’ll have a personal desk and 24/7 access to the space.


The application process for this program has three phases:

  1. Let us know you’re interested and tell us a bit about yourself through the form linked below.
  2. Based on those responses, we’ll follow up to schedule a 1-2 hour video interview in which we’ll get to know each other a little, further explore some of the things you shared in your application, and answer any questions you might have about us and the program.
  3. And finally, based on those conversations, we’ll enter you into the program lottery and let you know the results. The lottery isn't exclusive, it just ensures we have a diverse group of people in the program, so no worries.

We will be accepting applications through 1 August 2023, 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. If you have any quesitons, email us at or text us at 617.616.8653


Below are some questions we thought folks might have. If you have a question that isn't answered here, please get in touch!

Who owns the work I create during the program?

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.

Who pays for project supplies?

We’ll cover the costs for anything (within reason) you need to do the projects you tackle during the program. The only major exception to this is, if you are looking to start a business, while we will support limited prototyping, you will be responsible for buying materials for the products you well.

How are publication themes and projects chosen? What if I have a particular idea I want to work on?

We’ll begin the year creating our first publication around a predetermined theme. Last year, that theme was “Keeping Secrets.” You can see what we created in response to that theme here. From there, we’ll collaboratively brainstorm, refine, and choose the themes of our publications together. Last year, our additional themes included “Heavenly Bodies” and “Ghosts.”

At Powderhouse, a good theme is one that allows for a wide range of project ideas to fit. The goal is for a theme to inspire rather than constrain. This means, we are generally interested in creative or poetic interpretations of a theme and are eager to co-design and develop project and piece ideas that speak to 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.

How are you handling COVID?

We require all participants to provide proof of booster and vaccination before attending and will require regular rapid testing over the course of the year. 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.

Who’s behind this? Why are you running it?

Powderhouse’s team is running this fellowship. We’re running it to prototype some elements of a replacement for high school we’re working to build as part of our larger mission.

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!

How do I know if I’m a good fit?

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.

How much does the program cost?

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.

Who else will be in the program?

We’re looking for around 12 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 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.

Do I need to be a United States citizen or permanent resident?


Can you sponsor visas?

Unfortunately, not at this time.

How do you accommodate special education needs?

“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.

Do you offer support for English Language Learners?

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.

How will our work be evaluated? What are you looking for in them?

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:

  • consistent with our publication themes and editorial priorities,
  • creatively, intellectually, and/or technically ambitious, and
  • of genuine interest to someone (i.e. people will read it)

Note that although projects and pieces will be regularly workshopped and critiqued, we offer no grades (numeric or otherwise) evaluating projects and pieces.

What about after the program? What kind of support do you offer people during that transition?

We want to make sure that you are able to comfortably take your next step after Kindling. This means we provide individualized support through things like:

  • tutoring and test preparation for the GED/HiSET
  • campus visits and application/essay support for college admissions
  • developing and deploying a personal website, portfolio, and resume
  • searching and interviewing for jobs

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.

Whom will I be learning from? What is the background of the faculty running the fellowship?

You’ll be learning from other fellows as well as from Powderhouse’s team alongside 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.

Why the name “Kindling”?

When you build a fire, the small sticks you use to start the flames are called “kindling.” That’s where program gets its name.

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.

How can I apply? What’s the process like?

We are accepting applications on a rolling basis through 1 August 2023. To get started, apply here, and we’ll be in touch within 24 hours about next steps.

The application process looks something like this:

  1. We’ll ask you to briefly describe your background, what’s interesting to you about this program, and to share a few ideas for or examples of projects you think are great (whether or not you want to do them yourself).
  2. Based on that, we’ll follow up with an informal interview during which we’ll discuss those questions further, along with any questions or concerns you might have about the fellowship.
  3. And finally, based on that, we’ll enter you into our random lottery and let you know within a month whether you’ve been admitted.

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, committed to figuring out your future plans, and 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.

What if I need to miss some of the program?

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.

What equipment do I need to participate?

None. Because we'll be working with a lot of digital materials, all fellows will be working on Mac products. Necessary equipment (e.g. laptop, tablet, and phone) will be provided if you don’t already have access to them. Fellows will have the opportunity to purchase this loaner equipment at a discount at the end of the program.

What will I actually learn?

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.

More specifically:

  • In design: We’ll explore what it means to design projects and stories for an audience, clean design of computer programs, and how to use rapid prototyping and specification to refine and develop designs. We’ll work with design tools like Figma/Framer to prototype visual and interactive designs, touching on the basics of color, typography, and layout as we do so.
  • In narrative: We’ll provide support for outlining and storyboarding pieces, developing your ability to clearly and compellingly communicate to a particular audience, and to speak in your own voice (through words, images, etc.). Along the way, we’ll also dig into more concrete stylistic techniques including rhythm, metaphor, telling details, show-don’t-tell, etc.
  • In computation: We’ll use computers to help us ask and answer quantitative questions, build models, simulations, and other digital creations. We’ll learn how to express ourselves through code, to debug our creations when they don’t work, and to deploy things on the web. In terms of tooling, we’ll be working with tools like HTML/CSS and JavaScript to deploy things on the web, Mathematica and spreadsheets for more mathematical challenges, and the Adafruit Feather and MakeCode/JavaScript for physical computing projects.
Who’s eligible to apply?

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.

How will I be paid?

You’ll be paid ~785weeklyviadirectdeposit.Thisistheequivalentofa785 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.

Do you provide housing or food?

No. However, we can provide some funding to support those relocating to the Boston area, and we’re happy to help with your housing search if you’d like.

Are health care or other benefits included in the program?

For citizens and legal residents, we offer full healthcare, dental, vision, and retirement benefits. For undocumented individuals, please get in touch to discuss your health care needs: We may be able to offer a stipend to allow you to secure your own benefits independently.

Can I get academic credit or certification?

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.

How much time does this require?

This is a full-time commitment. You’ll be expected to be available 10AM–5PM, Monday–Friday (excluding federal and state holidays) for the duration of the program. We also expect that you’ll spend some time (~5 hours/week) outside of that schedule to work independently or with other fellows on projects, revisions, and workshop materials as needed.

Can I reapply if I’m not admitted?

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.

Is the program accessible if I have a disability?

“Disability” can mean many things, and we are committed to supporting as broad a set of people as possible 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.

The biggest, structural constraint is that our current workshop has a small step to enter and stairs to a second floor (without any elevator, currently).

If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to get in touch and we can look at the details of your situation and how we might best accommodate you.

What is the schedule for the program?

We’ll be meeting 10AM–5PM, Monday–Friday from 1 September 2023–31 May 2024 (excluding state and federal holidays). Refer to the full calendar for details.