The Religion Communicators Council (RCC) and the Religion Newswriters Association (RNA), with financil support from the International Shinto Foundation (ISF), is offering the opportunity for 24 young leaders committed to religious communication and journalism to continue their education and formation as 2015-15 Handa Fellows.

The program is open to those 18-35 years old and college students preparing for careers in religious communication or journalism, or professionals early in the same career path. Fellows are expected to uphold journalistic standards and publicly communicate about and report on their experiences and knowledge gleaned from the program in a variety of channels. Optionally, they are asked to relate their insights in other Handa-related foundations and the value of the ISF program and of participation in RCC or RNA.

The program runs from November 2015 through October 2016. Acceptance to the program is predicated on participation one of the sponsoring organizations’ conventions: the RCC meets in New York City from March 31 to April 2, 2016. The RNA meets in Silver Spring, Maryland, Sept. 22-25, 2016. Fellows will receive training and support during this period, including coverage of convention expenses for pre-arranged airfare, double occupancy housing for four nights, registration and awards gala attendance, and other general support costs for attending the convention of their respective cohort, including a paid membership for 2015-2016. Additional resources will be provided, if these opportunities necessitate international travel.

Between November 2015 and October 2016, Handa Fellows will:

  • Commit to a one-year program of study and reflection, as well as attendance at either the RCC or RNA annual convention
  • Receive a program orientation and organization-specific cohort formation experience
  • Be assigned a seasoned mentor from within their professional association to help advance their career and grow knowledge
  • Participate in special webinars and teleconferences
  • Receive scholarships to attend the annual convention of their respective organization
  • Be given the opportunity to attend an optional overseas training event as early as December 2015
  • Consider fostering greater religious literacy and pluralism in their work

Handa Fellows will participate in a series of six webinars:

  • An Introduction to Covering Religion in Journalism and Communication
  • An Introduction to Religious Diversity and Interfaith Cooperation
  • An Introduction to Religious Literacy
  • Understanding Islam
  • Understanding Buddhism
  • Understanding Hinduism

Fellows will participate in two joint teleconferences and two organization-specific ones to help foster development of each cohort, including:

  • A Handa Fellows Orientation Meeting and a Mentors Orientation Meeting
  • What Options Are There for People Interested in Religious Communication? (RCC)
  • What Options Are There for People Interested in Religion-Focused Journalism? (RNA)
  • What Does It Mean to Foster Religious Literacy As I Begin My Career?
  • How to Get the Most Out of the RCC Convention and Professional Development Pre-Day Experience
  • How to Get the Most Out of the RNA Conference and Pre-Conference Program

The deadline for program applications is Nov. 6, 2015 and fellows will be announced Nov. 10, 2015. Further information, program guidelines and an application can be found at the RNS web site.


Religion Communicators Council is principally compromised of professionals who work for faith-based agencies. Founded in 1929, it is an interfaith association of religion communicators at work in print and electronic communication, marketing and in public relations. The RCC provides opportunities for religion communicators to learn from each other. Together, RCC members promote excellence in the communication of religious faith and values in the public arena and encourage understanding among religious and faith groups.

Religion Newswriters Association and its nonprofit arm, Religion Newswriters Foundation, are principally compromised of professionals who work for secular entities. RNA was founded in 1949, and it encourages coverage of religion that is accurate, balanced, civil and fair. Over the last two decades, RNA has created the largest repository of tools and training guides about covering religion, found at ReligionLink.com. RNA hosts 19 international contests on religion news and draws hundreds of journalists to its annual conference. It’s collaborated in more than 100 trainings over the past decade.

The fellowships are named after the global humanitarian Dr. Haruhisa Handa.