Introducing the 2024 Rebuilding Together Howard University Fellows

March 4, 2024
by Shivanti Kariyawasam, Senior Manager, Programs, Research & Impact at Rebuilding Together National

Rebuilding Together has partnered with Howard University for a third year to offer occupational therapy students research fellowship opportunities in conjunction with developing the Rural Capacity Building (RCB) program for Rural Housing Development Organizations (RHDOs) throughout the United States. Howard University was the first HBCU (Historically Black Colleges/Universities) to offer an occupational therapy program, and is ranked among the Top 100 Best Occupational Therapy graduate programs according to the U.S. News & World Report. Among its talented and renowned faculty, the occupational therapy department includes eight faculty members who are certified aging in place specialists. Rebuilding Together has had a partnership with Howard University since 2021 on training and research opportunities.

The fellowship program was originally launched in January 2022 with a positive response from the fellows and Rebuilding Together affiliates who participated. Year after year, affiliates have reported the impact this program has had on building their capacity to provide person-first, community oriented services, and increased understanding of accessibility and occupational therapy approaches. Through this program, affiliates have made lasting and notable occupational therapy partnerships that transcend beyond the fellowship period. Previous fellows, now licensed and practicing clinicians, additionally convey how their participation in the program has impacted their trajectory by increasing their confidence and leadership skills, ability to deliver clinical services in rural areas and understanding the connection of aging in place, community and health. 

In line with Rebuilding Together’s 2030 goals, this year’s program will focus on helping beneficiary RHDOs use a person-first approach to service delivery to meet the needs, interests and strengths of the homeowners/communities served, as well as use a coordinated approach with other organizations and service providers.

This year, fellows will be working with Rebuilding Together affiliates serving communities in Sonoma County, CA, Kanawha County, WV and Washoe County, NV. While some of 2024 fellows reported having some previous experience with home repair projects, all of them expressed an interest in growing their knowledge of nonprofit organizations and the role of occupational therapy in home repairs and modifications, and rural housing. Fellows reported feeling excited and thankful to participate in the fellowship program during their orientation. Stay tuned throughout this spring to hear from fellows directly about their work with host affiliates!

Introducing the 2024 Rebuilding Together Howard University Fellows & Host Affiliates:

Rebuilding Together's Howard University Fellowship program was made possible through a Rural Capacity Building grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). We are thankful for HUD's commitment to affordable housing and community development activities in rural areas.