Connor Justin Staggs is one of twenty youth who secured a place in the 2018-19 cohort of AIF Clinton Fellows. At the heart of the AIF Clinton Fellowship program is a simple, bold idea: to identify, assign projects, sustain, and connect the next generation of emerging young leaders who are keen to serve the marginalized and under-resourced geographies in India. Every year, youth from India and the US form the cohort, made up of diverse, passionate individuals who, through their own experiences and values, have demonstrated a desire to be involved in projects for social change. AIF supports their project work over a period of ten months through meet-ups, workshops, mentorship, educational tours and exposure visits, thereby enriching the fellowship experience.
Originally from Birmingham, Alabama, 23 year-old Connor chose to serve 10 months with the AIF Clinton Fellowship program in India, after his Bachelor’s in Politics from Princeton University. “The AIF Clinton Fellowship gave me exposure to grassroots aspects of policies, and areas of interest that I didn’t know of before. I was looking for a project that would be research-oriented and found a perfect match in my host organization”, he says.
Connor, armed with some knowledge of Urdu and Hindi, spent a large part of his service fellowship documenting the impacts of his host organization’s citizen-journalists known as community correspondents. Of the project work he accomplished, he says, “Over the course of the Fellowship, I created six comprehensive impact reports on issues ranging from water and education to human trafficking. The second part of my project involved advocacy- driven research for my host organization’s thematic campaigns. Third, I managed content sharing partnerships with external organizations.”
Describing the Fellowship, Connor’s project supervisor Radhika was clear about measurable outcomes from the start. “My experience with the AIF Clinton Fellowship is excellent. AIF guarantees that the Fellow comes with a skill set, and the whole placement process is vetted and verified. Connor’s work is amazing, he is meticulous at data mapping and research, going even a step further to make it readable to a wider audience.”, she says.
The AIF Clinton Fellowship provides a framework for collaboration to talented young professionals from America and India to work with select non- governmental organizations (NGOs) in India for a period of ten months. Building the next generation of leaders committed to lasting change for underprivileged communities across India, the AIF Clinton Fellowship program strengthens the civil society sector with replicable and scalable solutions in the field of education, livelihoods and public health.