About / Host Eligibility and Selection

Host Eligibility and Selection

Funding / Host Eligibility and Selection

Host Eligibility and Selection

Fellowship / Host Eligibility and Selection

Host Eligibility and Selection

Host Eligibility and Selection

Call for Proposals

The NOAA Coastal Management Fellowship and Digital Coast Fellowship Programs match postgraduate students with state coastal resource agencies and Digital Coast Partner organizations to work on specific projects for two years. The program provides fellows with professional mentoring and training, and provides fellowship hosts with technical assistance to help them manage the coast effectively.


For the Coastal Management Fellows, all states and U.S. jurisdictions with federally approved coastal zone management programs and Alaska may submit a project proposal to NOAA to compete for selection as a fellowship host. Multiple state agencies or organizations with partnered implementation of the state’s coastal management program are also eligible. States and territories that currently host a first-year fellow are not eligible to apply for a second fellow. Up to five project proposals will be selected for the 2024 class of fellows. Two states are being reinvited to participate in the matching process in 2024 due to unsuccessful matches in 2023, for a total of seven Coastal Management Fellowship opportunities.

For the Digital Coast Fellows, all eight Digital Coast Partnership organizations may submit a project proposal to NOAA to compete for selection as a fellowship host every other year, in the even years. Organizations may partner with each other to develop a proposal, but one main host organization and mentor must be specified. Up to three project proposals will be selected for the 2024 class of fellows.

View a webinar describing the eligibility and proposal requirements for hosting a fellow.

Application Requirements

Applicants must submit a proposal of no more than eight pages that addresses the following, using this template.

  1. Background and Introduction – Define the problem, the need for the project, and how it will add value to the host organization. Digital Coast projects must also identify how the project will add value to the Digital Coast and the partnership.
  2. Goals and Objectives – Provide project goals and quantifiable objectives.
  3. Milestones and Outcomes – Highlight specific target milestones, timelines, and products or services to be completed within the two years of the fellowship.
  4. Project Description – Detail the specifics of the project (no more than 3 of the 8 pages).
  5. Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice – Demonstrate how the project has considered and will advance the principles of diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice.
  6. Fellow Mentoring – Discuss how the host agency will incorporate the fellow into staff activities and encourage the fellow’s professional development. Discuss how the mentor will provide day-to-day supervision and on-the-job education to the fellow. The mentor should be identified by name in the proposal.
  7. Office Environment – Describe the current and future plans for work status in your office (staff in the office vs. teleworking), and what is intended for the fellow.
  8. Project Partners – Provide a summary of existing efforts and how the project will integrate these efforts.
  9. Cost-Share Description – Discuss how the host will provide the $15,000 fellowship match.
  10. Strategic Focus Area – Discuss how the proposed project addresses one or more of the strategic focus areas:
    • Healthy Coastal Ecosystems
      Healthy coastal ecosystems provide many important benefits, including valuable habitat, enhanced water quality, reduced impacts from severe storms and flooding, and economic benefits related to fisheries, recreation, and tourism.
    • Resilient Coastal Communities
      Coastal communities are among the most densely populated in the nation and are increasingly at risk from climate change.
    • Vibrant and Sustainable Coastal Economies
      Coastal and ocean economies are a major engine for the national economy. Included are a wide range of sectors, from energy and security to tourism and recreation. These industries co-exist within a relatively small area, and many depend on healthy coastal ecosystems.

Selection Criteria

Projects will be selected using the following criteria:

  1. Project Value – To what degree:
    • will the project add value to the host organization?
    • does the proposal describe clear anticipated benefits of the project to the organization?
    • [for Digital Coast projects] will the project also add value to the Digital Coast and the partnership group?
  2. Project Approach – To what degree:
    • is the proposed project approach feasible?
    • are goals and deliverables defined?
    • is the proposed approach well-defined and achievable within two years?
    • is the host committing resources to the successful completion of the project (software, expertise, training, and other resources)?
    • does the proposal describe how the mentor will support the fellow?
  3. Value to Fellow – To what degree:
    • will the project provide a professional development experience for the fellow?
    • will the host contribute to the fellow’s professional development and educational experiences?
  4. Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice (DEIJ) – Does the proposal discuss how DEIJ was considered in the development of the project?
  5. Strategic Focus Area – How well does the project address one or more of the Office for Coastal Management’s strategic focus areas listed in the application requirements. Digital Coast priorities will be considered when selecting Digital Coast Fellowship projects.

Project Selection

Up to five state projects and up to three Digital Coast partner projects will be selected from the proposals submitted to NOAA. The selection panel will be made up of program partners, current and former fellows, and current and former mentors. In addition to the review criteria, certain program policy factors may be considered when selecting projects. An attempt will be made to disperse the state projects geographically, and technical experts may be brought in to evaluate the technical content of the proposals. The selection panel will make its recommendation to the division chief of the Learning Services Division at the NOAA Office for Coastal Management, who will make the final decision.

Cost Share

All organizations selected to host a fellow will be required to provide $15,000 in matching funds to cover a portion of the fellow’s salary ($7,500 for each year of the fellowship). This money must be cash and cannot be in-kind support. The source of the $15,000 cost sharing must be defined; if the source of this funding is not defined, the proposal will not be considered. In the past, these funds have had to come from a non-federal source, but that is no longer a requirement. The funds can be either federal or non-federal funds.

Coastal Management Fellows are provided up to $8,4000 for professional development funds over the two-year fellowship. A portion of this money must be used to travel to specific meetings and conferences required by the fellowship program. These include a summer fellowship meeting, the Social Coast Forum, and the Coastal GeoTools Conference. Digital Coast Fellows are provided up to $11,600, and are required to attend two in-person Digital Coast partnership meetings in addition to the three required meetings mentioned above. Fellows may use the remainder of these funds at their discretion to attend conferences, workshops, or trainings (prior approval from NOAA and their host organization is required). Any travel requested by the fellowship host, such as travel required to complete the fellowship project or travel to the host organization’s annual conference, must be covered by the host and should be considered when budgeting for hosting a fellow.

Placement of Fellows

The Coastal Management and Digital Coast Fellowship matching process will take place in two parts in late April 2024. First, program orientation by NOAA, project presentations by the hosts, and presentations by the finalists will be conducted virtually the week before the in-person portion of the matching workshop. Sessions will be live but will also be recorded for those that may miss a session.

The following week, in-person interviews will take place in Charleston, South Carolina. The finalists will be brought to the in-person portion at the expense of NOAA. Before the workshop begins, each of the finalists will be able to review the fellowship projects on the fellowship website. Each of the selected host organizations will send the fellow mentor to the placement workshop. No contact between prospective hosts and finalists should be made prior to the placement workshop. Candidates and hosts will submit their top choices of placement to NOAA, and NOAA will match fellows with hosts.

Of the finalists selected in 2024, up to seven will be placed with a state coastal program and up to three will be placed with a Digital Coast partner. If a host does not find a suitable candidate during the matching process, it will be given the option to defer fellow placement for one year. Hosts will only be allowed one deferment before they have to reapply.

Timeline for 2024-2026 Fellowship Program

Friday, October 13, 2023 - Proposals due from hosts
Wednesday, November 29, 2023 – Projects selected
Friday, January 26, 2024 – Applications due from candidates to their local Sea Grant
Friday, February 23, 2024 – Endorsements due from Sea Grant
Friday, March 22, 2024 – Finalists selected
Late April to early May 2024 – Matching workshop presentations - virtual
Late April to early May 2024 – Matching workshop interviews in Charleston
Thursday, August 1, 2024 - Fellowship begins

How to Apply

Please email a signed electronic copy of the proposal to ocm.fellowships@noaa.gov with “Coastal Management or Digital Coast Fellowship Proposal - host” as the subject.

To see examples of state projects that were selected in 2023, please visit coast.noaa.gov/fellowship/stateprojects.html. To see examples of Digital Coast projects that were selected in 2022, please visit coast.noaa.gov/fellowship/digitalcoast.html.