Capitol Hill is an entity of high turnover, constantly infused with new employees at a mostly entry level. As these junior staffers enter the workforce many have never been formally introduced to what freedom, opportunity, prosperity, and civil society actually mean.
The Heritage Foundation answered that call with the Heritage Congressional Fellowship program (HCF).
Created in 2002, HCF is an annual educational program designed to teach junior congressional staff the first -principles of conservatism necessary to understand the deeper issues behind political debates. The program also provides relevant policy sessions and vital practical job skills for an effective career on and off the Hill.
“Many young people who begin working in Congress have never studied our founding documents or conservative principles,” says David Azerrad, director of the B. Kenneth Simon Center for Principles and Politics.
“We started the Heritage Congressional Fellows program 15 years ago to ensure that junior staffers would be taught what they need to know to be principled conservatives on the Hill.”
After 15 years and over 500 graduates the program continues to prosper. Last month HCF graduated its largest class in history with 80 staffers, up from 57 in 2015.
“Its is a great opportunity to learn conservative principles and policies. Participating in Heritage’s Congressional Fellowship gives Hill staffers the tools they need to promote conservative policy solutions that will improve the lives of all Americans,” says Steve Chartan, legislative director for Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.
But the influence doesn’t end there. Heritage recognized that as junior staffers gain more experience and influence, there is always more to learn. Knowledge on first principles of conservatives and understanding of issues is essential to success, but debates on Capitol Hill are won by those who can navigate the complex procedures and practices governing each chamber.
Those unable to master these talents render themselves ineffective and inevitably falling victim to those that pull the levers of Congress.
To fill the void, the inaugural Feulner and Weyrich Fellowship was established in 2016 and serves as a program that enables highly talented mid-level staffers to advance in their careers through trainings in the vital skill sets tailored for navigating Capitol Hill.
Edwin Meese III, Andrew Eisenberger, David Azerrad
Guided by various conservative leaders in their specific fields, these fellows are immersed in the most valuable knowledge the movement has to offer—giving these future leaders of the movement the tools to follow in the footsteps of their congressional predecessors, Edwin J. Feulner and Paul M. Weyrich
Conservatives cannot work alone,” said Justin Ouimette, executive director of the House Freedom Caucus. “The Feulner and Weyrich Fellowship has helped to unlock the wealth of resources that are available to dedicated staff seeking to build the strongest case possible for advancement of conservative policies. More importantly, the fellows locked in even stronger working relationships with one another—both will make a difference in the months and years to come.”