Host Application

Applications for 2024-25 ISPP Cohort is closed. If you would like to be considered for the 2025-26 cohort, contact Dr. Evangeline Pianfetti, Director Illini Science Policy Program,

Program Description

The Illini Science Policy Program (ISPP) is a unique opportunity for government offices that work in University of Illinois Extension’s critical issue areas – food, economy, environment, community, and health – and the policy decisions affecting those resources. The program matches highly motivated and qualified University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign graduates with advanced degrees with Illinois public agencies or legislative offices for a 12-month, full-time paid appointment. Hosts provide an educational opportunity to Illini Science Policy Scholars (Scholars) who will, in turn, provide substantial professional contributions to the office, drawing from the latest scientific and disciplinary advances at U of I’s flagship campus.

Hosts are expected to provide supervision, mentorship and opportunities for their Scholar to be involved in critical issues that support their professional and educational goals while meeting the agency’s needs. Scholars are recent graduates with Masters, Doctoral, or J.D. degrees who work with the host office full-time and on site, working with other staff and/or leadership as appropriate. As part of their experience, Scholars will choose Extension project/s that align with their host projects to contribute to, anticipated to involve no more than two months spread out over the year, connecting host offices to Extension’s network of nearly 700 staff across all 102 Illinois counties.


The ISPP is open for participation by local, state and federal public agencies and legislative offices in Illinois with mandates in research, policy, or management issues relating to University of Illinois Extension’s five critical issue areas: food, economy, environment, community, and/or health. Legislative hosts must have a current Certificate of Good Standing with the State of Illinois.

Stipends and Expenses

Through support from the U of I Office of the Provost Investment for Growth program, the University of Illinois provides funding towards each Scholar’s appointment and travel reimbursement. Additionally, program direction and overhead expenses are provided by the University of Illinois Extension.  Additional support is also provided by University System Office of External Relations and Communications, the President's Office, and PepsiCo.

Host offices may provide up to $30,000 through either internal or external sources. Once hosts are confirmed, an IGA is signed which outlines the partnership agreement. Scholars are not allowed to begin work until the funding agreement is completed.

University funding is available for one scholar per host agency. Hosts may apply for additional scholars and will receive full support services, but must provide 100% of the direct costs and any additional travel funding exceeding the funding allowance agreed upon in the IGA.



A host application will include the following: 

  • Host location and contact information.
  • Names of appointment supervisor(s). 
  • Point(s) of contact for Extension, prospective scholars, and finalists.
  • Preferred qualifications
  • Position description, not to exceed two pages, single-spaced. If selected as a participating host, these descriptions will be made available as submitted to prospective ISP Scholar applicants.​
  • Amount of proposed financial contribution.

Application for 2024-25 is closed. Online submission for 2025-26 will begin late Fall of '24 or as funding allows.


Successful host applications will identify clear goals and objectives for a Scholar to contribute to research, policy, or management issues in Illinois relating to food, economy, environment, community, and health. Projects should also provide educational benefit and professional growth and exposure for the Scholar. Acceptance of a host application will be based on the following criteria:

  • The perceived quality of the project opportunity.
  • The level of educational benefit for the Scholar.
  • The host office’s previous experience working with interns, students or other mentoring/educational programs.
  • The level of financial commitment. Hosts are required to provide at least 50% of the cost of the first 12-month appointment (including appointment and travel costs). Hosts must pay 100% of the costs for any additional appointment(s).

Matching process

After an equitable interview process with the Extension staff, and host agencies, a matching process places candidates with a state or legislative office be suited to their knowledge, skills, and expertise. Host agencies and candidates are asked to rank their top 3 choices for their placements. Not every host or candidate is guaranteed a placement through the matching process.


  • February 5: Scholar applications open. (Rolling submissions)
  • March 4: Final day for early applications from potential scholars.
    • positions will remain open until filled
  • March 6 to April 12: Application review
    • Review for eligibility
    • Interviews by university and host agencies
  • April 15-18: Matching process
  • End April / Early May: Host / Scholar matches announced
  • July 16, 2024: ISPP Scholar placement begin
  • July 15, 2025: latest ISPP Scholar placement can ends