Black Metropolis Graduate Assistantships


The Center for Civic Engagement (CCE) has partnered with the Black Metropolis Research Consortium (BMRC) to create a new professional development program that embeds graduate students within BMRC member institutions. Through a nine-month graduate assistantship at a BMRC-affiliated museum, library, archive, or community organization, Black Metropolis Graduate Assistants will do work of public and intellectual value that (1) documents, preserves, interprets, and/or promotes the use of Black historical collections, and/or (2) advances equity & access in institutional practices & policies. 

Black Metropolis Graduate Assistantships are offered through a partnership between the Center for Civic Engagement and the Black Metropolis Research Consortium, with funding provided by The Graduate School and Northwestern’s Racial Equity and Community Partnership grant program.

Position Descriptions

Black Metropolis Graduate Assistantships are designed to increase capacity at Chicagoland’s Black archives and support projects that preserve and amplify Black histories & legacies while training PhD students in new skills and technologies, e.g. collection development, archival preservation and processing, exhibition preparation, public engagement, etc. 

In 2022-23, CCE will place GAs at two BMRC institutions. GAs will work with their host organization for the duration of the school year (Fall 2022 – Spring 2023) to complete a project designed by that institution. Position descriptions can be found below. Commensurate with other interdisciplinary graduate assistantships, Black Metropolis GAs work an average of 15-20 hrs/wk and receive a standard stipend and tuition scholarship. GAs should expect to work at least some of their weekly hours on-site.

Each host organization will receive $5,000 to support project implementation and administrative costs; additional funds are available to assure community input and access.

Orientation & Mentorship

In addition to individualized training at their host organizations, Black Metropolis Graduate Assistants receive an orientation at the beginning of their nine-month assistantship. In a series of professional development seminars designed by BMRC & CCE staff, GAs will be introduced to the scope of Chicago’s Black historical collections and explore topics related to nonprofit & cultural work, racial equity in archives and collections, and skill building and career development. 

Graduate Assistants will be supervised by senior staff at their host organizations and have access to a network of subject area experts across BMRC institutions. GAs will also meet quarterly as a cohort with Northwestern faculty mentors working at the intersections of academia and community engagement.


PhD students and fully-funded MFA students who will be in their 2nd – 7th year in the 2022-23 school year are eligible to apply. Students must be available locally for the period of the Graduate Assistantship as some on-site work will be required. International students are eligible to apply. 

We encourage applications from students with a demonstrated commitment to African American and Black diasporic culture, history and/or politics and an interest in developing professional skills at arts, culture, and archival institutions. The ideal candidate will maintain critical awareness of their positionality as an academic doing community-engaged work as well as a commitment to racial justice. Previous work experience with non-profits or archives is helpful, but not required.

Application Process

Applications for 2022-23 Black Metropolis Graduate Assistantships are now closed. Check back in Winter 2023!

Candidates for a Black Metropolis Graduate Assistantship must submit:

  • The completed Black Metropolis Graduate Assistantship application, including two short answer questions
  • A cover letter for each GA position for which the candidate would like to be considered – be sure to read each position description carefully (see above) and adapt your cover letter appropriately
  • A current resume that reflects relevant academic achievements, work and volunteer experience, leadership and extracurricular activities, and professional skills

Finalists will interview with BMRC host organizations and may be asked to submit additional materials. Note: While it is not required to apply, students will need the approval of their adviser and/or DGS before accepting an interview.

Frequently Asked Questions

For more information about the Black Metropolis Graduate Assistantships, please consult our Frequently Asked Questions.