Want to Work on Tribal Broadband Policy? ILSR is Hosting a 2023 ACLS Leading Edge Fellow


The Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) is pleased to announce that it has been selected by the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) as a host organization for a Leading Edge Fellowship for the second time. The application window has opened for recent PhDs in the humanities to apply for a two-year, full-time fellowship to be a Tribal Broadband Policy Analyst. The fellow will continue and contribute to foundational work by ILSR on Internet access in Indian Country while gaining experience in the regular portfolio of research and policy activities by the Community Broadband Networks initiative at ILSR. 

Read about the requirements and learn more about the fellowship here. Then, apply here! The deadline is March 15, 2023 at 9:00pm EDT. 

This position is made available through ACLS - please direct questions directly to the program.

Leading Edge Fellows

The Leading Edge Fellowship Program is design to pair recent PhDs with nonprofits to demonstrate "the potential of humanistic knowledge and methods to solve problems, build capacity, and advance justice and equity in society. Leading Edge Fellowships place recent humanities PhDs with nonprofit organizations committed to promoting social justice in their communities."

Fellows receive an annual stipend of $66,000 in year one and $70,000 in year two, as well as health insurance and $3,500 in professional development funding. Fellows lead substantive projects that draw on the skills and capacities honed in the course of earning the humanities PhD, including advanced communication, research, project management, and creative problem solving. This initiative is made possible through the support of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Tribal Broadband Policy Analyst

ILSR seeks a Tribal Broadband Policy Analyst to conduct research related to and improve continuing efforts to support the development of equitable Tribal Internet access. Despite some progress, Internet infrastructure and digital skills training in Native Nations lags dramatically behind the rest of the country. Less than 60 percent of those living on Tribal lands in the lower 48 states have access to basic broadband connections. Native Nations have regularly - in formal and informal ways - been excluded from policy conversations about access to infrastructure, subsidies, digital skills, and a host of other issues needing solutions. As a result, Tribal residents miss out on educational, economic development, telehealth, social networking, and the panoply of other activities that build community resiliency and democratic engagement in the modern world. Tribes, which face the consequences of decades of formalized structural oppression, need Internet access now more than ever.

One of the core components to this fellowship will be adding critical curriculum development expertise to ILSR’s Tribal Broadband Bootcamps (TBBs) - multi-day training intensives that build capacity and connections in Indian country. This includes refining existing materials and helping respond to what will be a changing broadband policy, funding, and deployment landscape in 2023 and beyond. Some Tribes are in extremely remote regions and have been passed over for decades by Internet Service Providers who have avoided interacting with Tribes, leaving them stranded in connectivity deserts. Others have access to fast networks nearby, but can’t afford to pay the prices being asked. In all scenarios, TBBs help arm participants with the information they need to address the set of challenges most pressing in their communities. 

Read more about the core components and additional opportunities of the Tribal Broadband Policy Analyst position here.

Responsibilities and tasks:

  • Cultivate a general expertise of the challenges and opportunities of broadband access in Indian Country, both urban and rural.
  • Improve the Bootcamps by attending, designing and soliciting feedback from Native participants, and working on curriculum development and preparatory materials. 
  • Develop and expand ILSR’s existing expertise on Tribal broadband issues, including capacity building, policy analysis, and empirical research.
  • Develop and contribute to new and existing research and policy projects addressing issues like access, affordability, digital skills, availability, and digital devices.
  • Expand current relationships and work with organizations like the Tribal Resource Center, the American Indian Policy Institute, and the Tribal Libraries Association


  • PhD in any field of the humanities or humanistic social sciences. Read more about eligible fields at the ACLS website;
  • Familiarity with both qualitative and quantitative analysis; position will not require sophisticated statistical methods, but will require the ability to collate basic demographic data;
  • Ability to work independently within the parameters of a project; interest in thinking and writing about creative solutions to bridge the digital divide
  • Interest in thinking and writing about solutions to bridge the digital divide;
  • Commitment to elevating local voices;
  • Excellent writing skills;
  • An understanding of the history of attempts by the federal government to extract wealth from and assimilate tribes into Western culture.
  • Preferred: Familiarity with pedagogy or curriculum development. 

We are thrilled to participate in the ACLS Leading Edge program. Past fellows have gone on to research and leadership positions at the Benton Institute for Broadband and Society and AnswerLab.

ILSR joins 21 other nonprofits, including the Children's Defense Fund, the Open Environmental Data Project, the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, and an array of other frontline and research institutions for this fifth fellowship round.

Apply now. The deadline is March 15, 2023 at 9:00pm EDT.