Meet the 2021 Curtis Fellows

Global Citizen announces the seven young men and women
who have been selected for the Curtis Fellowship,
which trains Fellows to be active participants in the fight to end poverty.


Hannah Noberto


Hannah Norberto is a 19-year-old Native American woman, affiliated with the Navajo Nation. Her clans are Kinyaa'áanii, Many Comanche Warriors, Táchii'nii, and Tódich'ii'nii.
Her hometown is Sheep Springs, New Mexico. She is a first-generation college student attending the University of New Mexico studying to receive a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in the honors college. She believes Native American health issues and the health care system are critical needs of the Navajo Nation. Her goal is to be remembered as a successful Indigenous woman rooted from the Navajo reservation with a PhD in nursing — a woman who dismantled her broken generational trauma and fear in order to be the role model for the Indigenous youth of the Navajo Nation. She is invested in the vision of showing how capable Native American youth are in the huge world besides being on the reservation. She is passionate about promoting Indigenous health and driving her people toward resilience. Some of her hobbies are reading, writing, and a love for all genres of music. She loves cats and animals as well! 


Jacoby Lacey


Jacoby was born in Florida and was raised between Culver City and San Ramon, California. He is interested in helping people in underrepresented neighborhoods learn more about being healthy, and removing harmful establishments like fast food restaurants from these neighborhoods. He was fortunate enough to volunteer in his community to help make compost. He has a passion for basketball and remains a die-hard Lakers fan. Jacoby tries to encompass the Mamba mentality in all aspects of his life.


Jelani Massey


Jelani is 18 years old and is from Washington, DC. He is currently a senior at Washington Latin Public Charter School and will be attending Morehouse College in the fall. Of the many issues facing communities today, finding a way to mitigate the number of food deserts is a cause he is eager to work toward. He currently volunteers at DC Central Kitchen and acts as an active member of Washington DC’s Ward 7 Youth Representatives. Jelani is a New Orleans Saints superfan, and enjoys watching anime, running, and participating in futile debates about Lebron and Jordan. 


Kai Owens


Kai Owens is 17 years old and was born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi. She is most interested in advocating for better education for children no matter their background or the income of their parents. She takes pride in volunteering at the Mississippi's Children Museum summer camp. As a volunteer, she is able to see children learn firsthand and watch them develop over the course of the summer. She loves to read because it opens doors to new things she has never experienced. She is interested in the why of the world and how to fix it. She has big dreams and is ready to turn them into reality. 


Nakia Jackson


Nakia Jackson is 19 years old and was born in Great Falls, Montana, but after a series of moves, she ended up graduating from a small town called Portales in New Mexico. She has just completed her freshman year at the University of New Mexico. She is very interested in LGBTQ+ issues, especially those pertaining to at-risk LGBTQ+ youth. She was recently hired as the director of diversity, equity, and inclusion for her university's student government and she is very excited to make an impact working in that position. A fun fact about her is that she has a black belt in karate! Her favorite hobby is definitely color guard. 


Tammy Pham


Tammy Pham is from Vancouver, Washington. She is 17 years old and is excited to be a part of the 2021 Curtis Fellowship. An advocacy issue she is interested in is DACA and ensuring that immigrants, no matter their legal status, are treated humanely. She is an active participant in her community and once crowdfunded $800 in three consecutive nights for a local nonprofit that assists low-income and homeless children. She thoroughly enjoys creative writing as both a passion and a hobby. She also enjoys reading, yoga, volunteering, floral design, and cuddling with her cat.


Thoat "Tina" Y


Although her legal name is Thoat Y, she is known to most as “Tina.” Tina is 19 years old and was born in a small village in the Central Highlands of Vietnam. When she was 3 years old, her family and she sought refuge in the United States and moved to Charlotte, North Carolina. She has been in Charlotte ever since and considers it to be her home. She is interested in education, especially for refugees. She is a refugee and feels blessed enough to not only receive an education, but to also have the opportunity to pursue higher education. For over 10 years, she has been volunteering with Refugee Support Services (RSS). This is an agency in Charlotte that aims to provide aid to local refugees, whether it be with finding jobs or helping with paperwork and distributing food. RSS has played an important hand in the successful assimilation of many refugee families into the United States, including Tina’s own. Volunteering is a part of her identity and it is something she will do, whether or not she is being rewarded for it. She loves soccer — watching it and playing it, but most of all, she loves that it brings in so many different communities together to watch one sport. She believes soccer is a universal sport, and even with language barriers, it is something that everyone can understand. 


What is the Curtis Fellowship?

Every year, Global Citizen selects a small number of next-generation leaders from underserved communities in the US for the Curtis Fellowship. The program provides young advocates with the education, resources, and leadership tools they need to become catalysts for greater change in their communities and beyond — and to help end poverty around the world. 

This year’s Curtis Fellows will be immersing themselves in the Curtis curriculum, which includes learning to harness the power of community action, meeting with industry leaders, and developing their leadership skills. The scholars also receive a grant of $10,000 which they will use towards funding their educational expenses.

As informed Global Citizens and empowered young leaders, these fellows can go on to create the change they would like to see in the world around them. Congratulations to these leaders-in-the-making!

Application Requirements

Applicants will submit a 2-3 minute video to the question in the application.

  • Applicants must also respond to three short answer questions, up to 250 words each.
  • Applicants must submit a recommendation letter from a teacher/professor, school administrator, community leader, or colleague to be considered for the Curtis Fellowship.
  • Guidelines for Recommendation letter
  • Applications close Monday, April 5, 2021 11:59 PM EDT. 

Program Highlights

  • $10,000 Scholarships to be used towards educational expenses
  • Innovative & Engaging curriculum from June-September focused on personal and professional development 
  • All Expenses paid learning trip to New York City in late September exploring cultural institutions, meeting with industry leaders, and more (if travel permits)
  • Innovative & Engaging curriculum focused on personal and professional development 
  • Speaker Series with various industry leaders
  • Networking Opportunities & Internship Opportunities
  • Access to a growing Alumni Network & many more opportunities 

Eligibility Criteria

  • Ages 17-20 (by time of application)
  • A legal resident in the United States
  • Limited travel experience
  • Family household income of under $90,000 USD
  • Those from minority and underrepresented communities are strongly encouraged to apply.



The Curtis Fellowship, conceived and funded by Global Citizen Ambassador and former long-time Pearl Jam manager Kelly Curtis through the Vitalogy Foundation, is an annual award to mentor and support Curtis Fellows. The Curtis Fellowship seeks to create, support, and equip a network of youth advocates and community leaders committed to local and global response on issues surrounding extreme poverty.


What is Global Citizen?

Global Citizen is a community of people like you. People who want to take action to end extreme poverty.

At Global Citizen we encourage people to learn and take action on our platform; those actions apply pressure on world leaders to make commitments around the issues associated with extreme poverty: gender equality, food security, education, the environment, global health, citizenship, and sanitation. 

When does the application open? When does it close?

The application opens for submission on February 18, 2021 at 9:00 AM EDT and closes on Monday, April 5, 2021 at 11:59 PM EDT.

When will I find out if I’ve been accepted? 

You will be notified of your application status around Friday, May 7, 2021. 

What are the eligibility requirements for the Curtis Fellowship? Do I need specific academic requirements to be eligible? 

No, there are no academic requirements to be eligible for the Curtis Fellowship. 
Eligibility requirements are: 

  • Ages 17-20 (by time of application)
  • A legal resident in the United States
  • Limited past overseas travel
  • Family household income of under $90,000 USD
  • Those from minority and underrepresented communities are strongly encouraged to apply.

Do you accept people who are not U.S. citizens?

Yes! We accept youth ages 17-20 years old that are legal residents in the United States. 

 Who should write a letter of recommendation?

The letter of recommendation should come from someone who can speak about your motivation, ability to work in a team and potential to be an agent of change. Preferred letters will be from a teacher/professor, school administrator, community leader, or colleague. Guidelines for Recommendation letter.

How does my recommender submit their letter of recommendation?

Recommenders will receive a unique email link to upload their letter once applicants have submitted their final application via the platform. We suggest that recommendation letters be written in advance of receiving the unique email link to ensure that all application pieces are received by the deadline of April 5th, 2021. 

What if I turn 21 years two days before the application deadline?

If this is true for you, unfortunately, you would not be eligible. All applicants must be 17-20 years on the application deadline which is April 5th, 2021. 

How can I upload videos for the application essay questions?

Only video URLs will be accepted. We suggest you upload your video to Youtube first. You can find instructions on how to upload a video to Youtube here.  Once your video(s) are uploaded to Youtube, you’ll copy and paste the URL into your application. 

If am I not accepted, can I get feedback on my application?

Due to the high volume of applicants, we are not able to respond to questions about specific application feedback. We encourage all applicants to re-apply if not selected.

How many scholars are participating in this program?

There will be between 6-8 Fellows. 

What should I expect to do as a participant in the Curtis Fellows Program? What can I expect to do on the trips?

Global Citizen will support the scholars in professional and personal development through a deeper understanding of complex social issues and prepare the Curtis Fellows to become advocates of social change.

Fellows will be expected to spend about 2 hours per week engaging in group and individual activities that focus on professional development, personal growth, advocacy, cultural exposure, social justice and equity. This will include group discussions and working to apply skills in local communities. After completion, you will be awarded a $10,000 scholarship to be used towards educational expenses, earn letters of recommendation, receive guidance on future endeavors and stay connected with other Curtis Fellow alumni.

Who makes the Curtis Scholarship possible?​

The 2021 Curtis Fellowship was generously supported by Kelly Curtis, Vitalogy Foundation and Live Nation.

Where can I ask questions not covered here?​

If you have any questions that are not answered on the award’s information page or in these FAQs, please email Regretfully we will only be able to respond to questions not answered here.

For all questions please read our FAQs above or e-mail

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