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Fellowship Opportunities

The Wisconsin Policy Forum is seeking applications for the Norman N. Gill and Todd A. Berry fellowships for the 2018-2019 academic year. The fellowships support research that is directly relevant to key policy issues confronting state and local governments in Wisconsin. The fellowships are named in honor of Norman Gill and Todd Berry’s long-term commitment to improving government decision making and quality of life in Wisconsin. Norman Gill served as the executive director of the Milwaukee-based Citizens Government Research Bureau (later the Public Policy Forum) for over 40 years, while Todd Berry headed the Madison-based Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance for more than 20 years. Those two organizations have now merged as the Wisconsin Policy Forum.

What We Are Looking For

The Forum is looking to support two students pursuing graduate education in any Wisconsin public or private graduate degree program in public policy, public administration, urban planning, law, economics, political science, education, geography, or a related field. The Norman N. Gill fellow will engage in a research project focused on a timely and topical policy or governance issue impacting Milwaukee and/or southeastern Wisconsin. The Todd A. Berry fellow will engage in a research project focused on a timely and topical policy or governance issue impacting the State of Wisconsin or local governments throughout the state. The results of both projects will be disseminated broadly to the public, the media, and policymakers, including at least one presentation.

The fellows will be supervised and guided by senior staff and are invited to be members of the Forum team, with opportunities to participate in Forum functions, attend staff meetings, and draw upon the Forum’s network of expertise. The fellows are expected to work approximately 8-10 hours per week on their projects, including in-office hours in Milwaukee (Gill fellowship) or Madison (Berry fellowship) as his or her class schedule permits. The fellowships pay a stipend of $7,500 for the nine-month period, which corresponds with the 2018-2019 academic year. 

Application Process

Applying for a fellowship is a two-step process. The first step is to submit a Letter of Intent (LOI), which must identify the policy issue to be studied, the research methodology to be used, the potential impact of the research, and a description of how your academic and career goals would be supported by participation in this program. The LOI should not be more than two pages. A resume or curriculum vitae must accompany the LOI. The deadline for submitting a LOI has been extended until March 13, 2018.

To illustrate the type of research project we are looking for, a list of possible topics is provided below. While these topics can be chosen or modified, we welcome applicants to propose a research project of their own design. Proposals that address one of our core research areas – economic development, education, government finance, or social services – are strongly preferred.

  • Tax incremental financing (TIF) is an economic development tool used by local governments to support development projects. The Forum has previously explored the use of TIF in southeast Wisconsin and its impacts, but it has been nine years since our last analysis. We are looking to update our previous body of work by exploring the recent use of this tool in Wisconsin and the impacts it is having. Are we using TIF too much, not enough, or the right amount? Are we using it for the right projects? How do we compare to other states in terms of both the volume of TIFs and the purposes for which they are being used?
  • In 2011, the Wisconsin legislature enacted Act 10, the controversial law that restricted collective bargaining for most public workers while providing financial flexibility to school districts. Both before and since that time, data and anecdotal accounts have indicated widespread teacher shortages, especially for particular needs such as special education, bilingual education, and STEM. How has the teacher compensation landscaped changed in the post-Act 10 era? What role have any such changes had on school district finances and efforts to recruit and retain teachers throughout Wisconsin?

  • Recent decisions on major investments in expanded highways and new transit strategies have been guided by traffic and ridership projections developed by our regional planning commissions and state/local transportation agencies. What are the methodologies used to develop those projections? How sound are the assumptions being used, and how accurate have similar projections been in the past? Should changes be considered in the manner in which such projections are formulated, the entities formulating them, and how they are impacting policy decisions?
  • Some view the City of Milwaukee as a drain on state resources, while others see it as a vital economic engine that brings financial benefits to all of Wisconsin. We envision a project that will use State of Wisconsin tax and expenditure data to attempt to answer this question once and for all. What is the impact of the City of Milwaukee on state tax revenues and expenditures? Overall, does the City of Milwaukee receive more through state aids and financial support than it sends back to Madison via tax payments and other contributions?

From those who submit LOIs, finalists will be selected and notified by March 16, 2018. Finalists will be invited to complete the second step in the application process, the full application. Full applications must include a more detailed description of the research, a completed application form, transcripts of undergraduate and graduate studies, and one academic or professional letter of support. Full applications will be due by April 6, 2018. A telephone or video chat also may be scheduled. The fellows will be chosen and notified by April 20, 2018. Note that the final choice of candidates will require the final approval of the Forum’s Fellow Committee, and the availability of committee members may shift our deadline.

Any questions please email Joe Peterangelo at

Please submit the initital application materials using the form below.


Application Form