Mel King Community Fellows

The Community Innovators Lab’s Mel King Community Fellows (MKCF) Program embodies the legacy of Mel King, a still-active champion of cities and the communities they comprise. Mel King initiated the Community Fellows Program in 1970 as an adjunct professor at MIT. The program offered a space for activists to connect with the Institute, reflect, and conduct research into pressing issues in their work.

Today, the program builds on a 40-year tradition of bridging practice-based knowledge and academic research. MKCF is a non-residential program. Fellows continue their community-based work in their respective sites while simultaneously deepening their connections with their partners and each other. CoLab staff, students, and faculty affiliates support Fellows as they undertake self-directed learning projects of mutual benefit. Mel King Fellows are recognized leaders in communities across the country and have experience in a range of social justice pursuits. The program’s goal is to create a dispersed learning network among the Fellows for co-creating knowledge. Through MIT-based convenings, as well as field-based learning journeys, peer learning and prototyping, the program provides participants an opportunity to examine:

  • Innovative models of planning and development that advance community wellbeing;

  • New methods and approaches to enable these models;

  • Tools and practices for collaborative innovation.

Each class of MKCFs has a specific focus vetted by leaders in the field and related to economic democracy, community well-being, and the future of cities. 


Selection Process

Mel King Community Fellows are nominated by peers, members of the academy, foundation officers and others. Fellows are rigorously vetted by MIT CoLab and approved by CoLab’s Faculty Council, comprised of senior MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning faculty. Criteria include:

  • Demonstrated commitment to social, economic, racial, ethnic, and gender inclusion, and community participation, particularly of historically marginalized groups, in planning the future of cities

  • Track record of leadership in their field

  • Demonstrated interest in working collaboratively and linking theory and practice

  • Interest in exploring issues related to economic democracy, and self-determination.


Mel King Community Fellow classes

  • Class of 2014: Art + Social Change

  • Class of 2013: Community Organizing + Labor

  • Class of 2012: Sustainable Economic Development

  • Class of 2011: Community Organizing + Economic Development

See all Fellows.