Kindling Fellowship, Fall 2024

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

Applications for the 2024 Kindling Fellowship are now open. Register interest by applying below.

What is this?

Powderhouse is a lab school based in Somerville, MA. Our Kindling Fellowship is in its third year and designed to support teens and young adults as they finish high school and take their next steps into adult life.

During our first two years, fellows wrapped cars, learned robotics, produced music, and started clothing brands. They received their GED, applied and were admitted to college, earned their nail tech license, and learned sign language. You can check out some of those projects here.

Whatever your interests, we’ll work with you to define your personal, professional, and academic goals and then devise a plan to work toward those goals through a mixture of creative projects, hands-on learning, and real-world experience. If you’re admitted to the program, we’ll provide you a MacBook, iPad, and iPhone; project stipend to pay for tools, materials, and courses related to your goals; access to our studio space; and individualized support as you pursue your goals.

Kindling might be right for you if you are looking to:

  1. Finish high school — Depending on your situation, we can work with your current school to accredit learning you do at Powderhouse; administer a homeschooling plan with the state; register in dual enrollment programs at local colleges; design individualized plans for targeted credit via AP, CLEP, and other exams; or support you in getting their GED.

  2. Get into (and/or prepare for) college — We can help you finish coursework, find and apply for colleges and scholarships, study and learn about the topics you’ll need when you first get into college, and help you take college classes to test out the waters before you go full time.

  3. Break into an industry — We can support you to launch your own business; start training in a trade; develop a resume, portfolio, and other materials to show potential employers; get on-the-job training through internships and apprenticeships; or finance licensure and certificate programs in your field of interest.

  4. Figure out your interests — Sometimes, when high school ends, you still aren’t sure what you want to do next. We can help you explore and discover your interests, putting together workshops, projects, and courses for you, as well as helping you connect with people involved in the fields and industries you want to explore.

Your academics and career are important, but we care about the rest of your life too: Whether it’s helping with essentials that are getting in the way (health care, housing, and food) or introducing you to general adulting (budgeting for a car, getting your license, building credit, working to get your papers), we’re here to help you with whatever is standing in your way.

If Kindling sounds like it might be right for you or if you have any questions, reach out to us@powderhouse.org or (617) 616-8653.

What does it look like?

The Fall 2024 program will run weekdays from 10AM–5PM (excluding federal and state holidays) from 3 September 2024 through 30 May 2025. Over the course of the year, you’ll spend most of your time working to achieve your personal, professional, and academic goals through a mixture of projects, workshops, and real-world experiences we design together.

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 the program. 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…

Wherever you're at when you arrive, we'll help you figure things out, getting your dreams out of your head, breaking them down into manageable steps, and providing support as you work toward them steadily throughout the year.

Who is this for?

We are looking for about a dozen people who are eligible for the program, excited to collaborate with small, diverse cohort of peers, and are looking to do one or more of the following…

  1. Finish high school

  2. Get into (and/or prepare for) college

  3. Break into an industry

  4. Figure out your interests

…all with support from Powderhouse’s staff and 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?

  • Any physical, financial, or other resources necessary to make creatively and technically ambitious work possible
  • Individualized and small group support for your projects; personal, professional, and academic goals; and any life stuff standing in your way
  • 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, ~5 hours of which might be outside regular hours 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?

  • Respectful, courteous collaboration with other fellows with different skills, backgrounds, perspectives, and goals
  • Supportive, critical conversations aiming to understand and improve one another's work
  • Active participation in group conversations and rituals

When is this happening?

The Kindling Fellowship will run from 3 September 2024 to 30 May 2025, 10AM–5PM each weekday, excluding state and federal holidays.

  • 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

Some weeks, you’ll be asked to dedicate ~5 additional hours per week outside our regular times to meet deadlines or attend special events.

Where is this happening?

We will be working out of a small, two story workshop outside Davis Square in Somerville, MA.

Apply

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 in batches on...

  • March 1, 2024
  • May 1, 2024
  • July 1, 2024

...so we encourage you to get started as soon as you’re able.

Admissions are made based on a non-competitive selection process. Because we are starting a school, we make our decisions taking into account two priorities:

  1. Enrolling current high school students looking to accrue credit through one of the pathways we are working to develop, i.e. through partnership with your current school of record, getting your GED/HiSET, designing homeschooling plans, taking placement exams like AP, CLEP, etc.
  2. Matching the demographics of the overall cohort to that of Somerville High School

Depending on what the applicant pool looks like when an admission date arrives, we may choose to defer your application to the next admission date as we work to meet these priorities within our tiny (~12 person) cohort. Communication letting you know if you’ve been admitted, deferred, or not admitted will be sent on each admission date.

If you have any quesitons, email us at us@powderhouse.org or text us at 617.616.8653

FAQ

Below are some questions we've been asked a bunch. 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.

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, we're looking for people who are looking for support to achieve one or more of the following goals:

  1. Finish high school — Depending on your situation, we can work with your current school to accredit learning you do at Powderhouse; administer a homeschooling plan with the state; register in dual enrollment programs at local colleges; design individualized plans for targeted credit via AP, CLEP, and other exams; or support you in getting their GED.
  2. Get into (and/or prepare for) college — We can help you finish coursework, find and apply for colleges and scholarships, study and learn about the topics you’ll need when you first get into college, and help you take college classes to test out the waters before you go full time.
  3. Break into an industry — We can support you to launch your own business; start training in a trade; develop a resume, portfolio, and other materials to show potential employers; get on-the-job training through internships and apprenticeships; or finance licensure and certificate programs in your field of interest.
  4. Figure out your interests — Sometimes, when high school ends, you still aren’t sure what you want to do next. We can help you explore and discover your interests, putting together workshops, projects, and courses for you, as well as helping you connect with people involved in the fields and industries you want to explore.

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 not be paid for the program, but you will be provided a laptop, tablet, and phone for use while you're with us and access to a budget to support your projects and other work throughout the year.

Who else will be in the program?

We’re looking for ~12 creative, committed, and collaborative people who will bring a diverse set of skills and perspectives to their work. Everyone in your cohort will be looking to finish high school and/or transition to their next step, whether college, career, etc. We're all here to work toward our own goals and support and celebrate others as they do the same.

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

No.

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?

Although the projects and other work you do at Kindling will be regularly workshopped and critiqued, we do not offer traditional grades (numeric or otherwise). Internally, we evaluate work based on the goals you set in your Roadmap and project pitch. Pitches ask:

  1. What do you want to make or do?
  2. Why are you doing it?
  3. What will make it a success?
  4. What's your plan? From here, we evaluate your work on its own terms. For example, if you want to explore chemistry by doing beautiful experiments, standards of success will look very different than if you are looking to pass the AP Chemistry exam. Or, if you are doing a woodworking project to get familiar with shop tools, standards for success will look very different from a piece you are building to demonstrate competence for admission to trade school. In this way, we look at both the quality of the work itself and the quality of your process making it, evaluating the work based on the goals we set before you got started.
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 2024. To get started, apply here, and we’ll be in touch within 48 hours about next steps.

The application process looks something like this:

  1. An online application will ask you to briefly describe your background, what’s interesting to you about this program, and to share a few 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. After 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 acheive your goals: working collaboratively to make great creative projects, committing 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, unless we make a different arrangement before you are admitted. If we find that you are regularly missing sessions, we will work with you to solve the problems standing in your way, but may eventually 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?

At Kindling, we will organize your work in what we call a Roadmap. This document captures your big goals for the year, along with a plan for how you'll achieve those goals during your time with us. We'll design your Roadmap with you and your family, and it will likely include things you're excited about (like getting your license or releasing an album) and things you're less excited about but still want to accomplish (like getting math and ELA credit or applying for jobs or college). While you won't necessarily learn a set curriculum, you will learn what you need to in order to achieve your goals—and we'll hold you to that!

Can I get academic credit or certification?

Powderhouse is not an accredited school, though we are working toward that. Depending on your situation, however, we can work with your current school to accredit learning you do at Powderhouse; administer a homeschooling plan with the state; register in dual enrollment programs at local colleges; design individualized plans for targeted credit via AP, CLEP, and other exams; or support you in getting their GED.

Can I reapply if I’m not admitted?

Yes, but since we admit people through a lottery, your new application will be considered for the next year's program.

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 3 September 2024–30 May 2025 (excluding state and federal holidays). Refer to the full calendar for details.