News Release: Institute for Citizens & Scholars is new name of WW Foundation

FOR RELEASE: November 16, 2020
CONTACT: Frances Hannan, Director of Multimedia Projects | 201-587-4755 | [email protected]


PRINCETON, NJ (November 16, 2020) — After an election that saw more than an estimated 66% of the eligible voting-age population participate and that highlighted great divides in the United States, the nation needs to sustain a flourishing democratic society. The Institute for Citizens & Scholars (Citizens & Scholars) has announced a new identity and an enlarged mission to help address this challenge.

Citizens & Scholars begins a new chapter as a national nonprofit preparing leaders and engaging networks of people and organizations to meet urgent education challenges. The overarching goal is to shape an informed, productively engaged, and hopeful citizenry.

Citizens & Scholars is a 75-year-old organization that has played a significant role in shaping higher education. With a mission that has evolved and expanded over the past 18 months, Citizens & Scholars is rebuilding how it develops citizens in our country in the following ways:

  • Support young people to be better citizens, through programs such as the recent Civic Spring Project, which catalyzed a broad array of organizations to increase civic learning opportunities for young people. This project is the first effort in a larger Citizens & Scholars initiative to build a thriving field of civic learning in the United States.
  • Network with civic leaders to ensure a resilient democracy, with efforts like the Brewer Fellowship to Unite America and the Higher Education Policy Fellowship. Such programs seek, in different fields, to connect leaders who have diverse perspectives and shared interests.
  • Prepare a diverse and responsive next generation of college faculty and educators. Citizens & Scholars has engaged generations of college professors, thousands of K–12 teachers, policymakers, and education leaders. From the original Woodrow Wilson Fellowships to the MLK and Women’s Studies Fellowships to the WW Teaching Fellowships, Fellows have contributed to create a better educated, more thoughtful, and more inclusive America.

“The 2020 election turnout, the highest in over a century, is a hopeful sign for an engaged citizenry. At the same time, this election also made it crystal clear that we need to bridge a real divide — to find new ways to bind our nation together. It’s essential that we grow from this point. All of our work at Citizens & Scholars, in education and in civic life, is geared to bring more people and perspectives to the table, enrich our understanding, prepare us for complex yet crucial conversations, and build bridges,” says Rajiv Vinnakota, President of Citizens & Scholars.

Vinnakota emphasized that Citizens & Scholars utilizes a multi-disciplinary, cross-partisan, and cross-sector approach that harnesses data and technology to tackle the issues at scale — since the most urgent and complex societal challenges cannot be solved by one field, party, or sector alone.

Name Reflects Values and Work

The launch of the new Citizens & Scholars identity follows a renaming process involving its Fellows, Trustees, staff, and strategic partners that began in June after the Board of Trustees voted to change the name of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation.

Since the first Woodrow Wilson Fellowships were awarded at Princeton University in 1945, more than 27,000 Fellows have been named to the organization’s various programs, including 16 Nobel Laureates, 42 MacArthur Fellows, many other award winners, and thousands of everyday heroes. Excellence and leadership in higher education remain a cornerstone of what Citizens & Scholars does.

While the foundation was originally named to recognize Woodrow Wilson’s accomplishments as a university leader and as President of the United States, his racist policies and beliefs are fundamentally incompatible with the organization’s values and work. Hence, the renaming process commenced.

“The Trustees unanimously support our expanded mission and our new name — the Institute for Citizens & Scholars. My Board colleagues and I are excited to be a part of what comes next,” said Jane Phillips Donaldson, Chair of the Board of Trustees. “We believe the change builds very effectively on a long history of leadership and excellence in education, and it broadens that base to engage the organization’s best strengths with some of the most critical national issues of our time.”





Looking for Fellowship Applications?

Fellowship applications and opportunities can now be found on our new website, citizensandscholars.org.

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