Peace Corps Coverdell Fellows

Are you seeking a supportive network of individuals who will do hands-on projects which address resilient and sustainable solutions in communities and landscapes?  Are you searching for a community who will be appreciative of your Peace Corps service and the traits and skills it fostered?  Western’s Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program supports Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCV) in earning a Master in Environmental Management (MEM) degree while continuing the service they love in a rural setting in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. 


Benefits of the Coverdell Fellows Program

Western's Master in Environmental Management program offers placement for RPCVs seeking to bring home and expand upon the skills they learned abroad. Coverdell Fellows can choose a concentration of Integrative Land Management, Sustainable and Resilient Communities, or Global Sustainability, all offered in Western's MEM program, while completing an internship in underserved communities whether our local population or any underserved community in America. The MEM presents a hybrid-learning environment for full-residency students rooted in the extended learning opportunities of the Gunnison area, combined with a low-residency option for select environmental professionals from around the country and world.


If chosen as a Paul D Coverdell Fellow, you will receive support through:

  • Waiving or reimbursement of the graduate program application fee.
  • A first year fellowship of $2,500 - $5,000 (with the possibility of renewal the second year).Free campus housing (which may be shared with another fellow) if doing an internship with either our Multi-Cultural Center or Leadership and Engagement Office.
  • The advice and support of a dozen faculty as well as our local RPCV community.
  • If you have your first year federal employment eligibility, we have a program specialist available to discuss job processes for federal employment and assist you in maximizing the benefit.

Eligible individuals will have completed the full two-year tour of Peace Corps service and been accepted into Western’s Master of Environmental Management program.  RPCV’s who receive a Paul D. Coverdell Fellowship will either complete an internship or their second year master’s project in underserved communities (whether our local rural population or any underserved community in America). 

Current partners who sponsor Western’s Paul D. Coverdell fellows include:

  • Coldharbour Institute –fellowships to develop water quality, permaculture innovations, and food distribution hubs for an innovative learning center.
  • Peace Corps Prep Program with Leadership and Engagement Office at WCU.  Fellows help develop and implement the new campus Peace Corps Prep program. 
  • Multi-cultural Center at WCU.  Fellows contribute to helping develop intercultural programs and opportunities for the campus and community.
  • Gunnison Valley Housing Foundation – Fellows help explore and implement affordable, energy efficient housing using renewable and locally available resources.
  • Paul D. Coverdell SRC Community Leadership Fellows will be asked to champion a high visibility community project during the year.
  • Mountain Roots Community Fellowships are available for RPCV’s as a Coverdell Fellowship and are an opportunity to engage in the research, project design and management, site planning, installation, and beginning operations phases of a new 10-acre organic farm.

Design your own Coverdell Fellowship

Western’s Master in Environmental Management program offers the only “Design your own Coverdell Fellowship” option for graduate school.  We encourage RPCV’s who have a passion and relationship within a currently underserved American community to utilize their entrepreneurial skills and ability to innovate to seek sponsorship for either a fellowship and/or housing assistance that allows them to gain the education and support of a master’s degree while serving in a place of their choice.  We also have federal partners with assorted needs in public lands management interested in creating fellowship opportunities for RPCV’s. 

To complete an application for a Coverdell Fellowship, do the following:

Please contact Dr. Jessica Young with questions,