This is an update on the reasoning behind the upcoming Fellow Stipend Increase.
In December, QVS Staff and Board decided to increase the personal stipend for Fellows to $225/month, up from the stipend of $150/month. Next program year, starting in just 7 months (Sept 2023), we will increase the stipend again to a total of $250/month.
In the fall of 2022, Mike Huber, Director of Program, surveyed current Fellows about how they use their personal stipend. He writes “Over the years, we made cost-of-living adjustments for the personal stipend. We realized it would be more helpful if we took a more careful look at what those numbers represent.” What we see is that Fellows use their personal stipend to cover a variety of needs: health and wellness that QVS doesn’t cover (i.e. gym memberships, haircuts); clothing, toiletries, and other items used daily; subscription services (i.e. streaming services, phone bills, etc.); fees for graduate school applications; transportation and trips that QVS doesn’t cover (i.e. day or weekend visits to friends or family); and any food or drinks (i.e. restaurants, take-out, coffee shops) that aren’t within the house.
The list of the kinds of things Fellows spend money on hasn’t changed, but we know that the cost of nearly all items has increased in recent years – especially in the last year. “[We] recalculated the stipend based on the actual expenses that our Fellows reported,” says Mike.
“I hope this adjustment further allows us to reflect on the values of the organization not just by what we say, but we do.” -Rachael Carter
Rachael Carter, Philadelphia Coordinator, writes “I think this change is a great way that we are adjusting to the new lives of young adults. At this time they are responsible for so much more and what are considered ‘normal goods’ is different as well. I hope this adjustment further allows us to reflect on the values of the organization not just by what we say, but we do. And we [want to offer a stipend] to young adults that allows them to say yes to this program.”
Ruth Cutcher, QVS’s Recruitment Coordinator says, “With the increase, I feel better about sharing all the ways that QVS supports Fellows. I can also share about how QVS is a dynamic organization that responds to the concerns of Fellows, and this is an example of that happening.”
We’re excited (and a little scared) to increase our direct financial support for each individual Fellow. It feels like the right move. At the same time, we still want Fellows to lean into community as the foundational source of abundance. Learning to rely on the wealth of our community is a stretch for many of us. We’ve been taught to find security in private wealth. That path has been so destructive; to our planet, our communities, our mental health. We are grateful for all the partners who share generously with the Fellows, so we can continue to promote community as a viable alternative to private wealth.
What sorts of programming and tools are Fellows offered during their year?
QVS Days offer Fellows a chance to slow down and be in community. For the first part of the year, QVS staff take the lead in planning and facilitating QVS Days. They support Fellows in exploring their individual and communal journeys, as well as discussing work, community living, Quakerism, spiritual practices, and social justice issues. As the year progresses, Fellows take a more active role in planning and facilitating QVS Days.
Over the course of the year, Fellows learn tools like: clerking and Quaker decision-making processes, clearness committees, conflict transformation, signs of defensiveness, and tons more. Additionally, at the start of the year, Fellows attend a week-long orientation with all QVS Fellows from across the country, as well as a mid-year and a closing retreat with their city cohort.
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