The Open City Fellowship

The Open City Fellowship is a unique opportunity for emerging Asian American, Muslim and Arab writers to publish narrative nonfiction on the vibrant East Asian, South and Southeast Asian, Arab and West Asian, and North and East African communities of New York City.

Our 2022 Open City Fellows are Dhanya Addanki, Vina Orden, Sana Khan, Grace Jahng Lee, Asad Dandia, and Sophia Tareen.

The Fellowship is a nine-month stint for emerging writers of color to write about how Asian American and Muslim American lives are being lived in New York City. It is open to writers who are based in New York City, or can claim residency in the city but temporarily relocated due to the pandemic.

The Fellowship offers a $2,500 grant, skill-building workshops, and publishing opportunities to Fellows to write about the Asian American and Muslim American communities of New York City.

A total of six Fellows will be selected for next year’s Open City Fellowship; three for the Neighborhoods/ Communities Fellowship and three for the Muslim Communities Fellowship.

The Fellowship term will begin in January 2022 and will end in September 2022. The deadline for submission is on October 18, 2021.

We are looking for writers eager to get their feet wet and their hands dirty covering New York City neighborhoods and writing about social justice issues – racial, class and gender equality. Each Fellow must adopt a specific neighborhood or community and a specific theme (i.e. mental health, COVID-19 issues, LGBTQ+ issues, gentrification, etc.) and write stories along these intertwined geographical/cultural and thematic beats.

Open City is one of the projects of The Margins, the online publication of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop. It documents the pulse of metropolitan Asian America and Muslim America as it’s being lived on the streets of New York City right now. We’re looking for writers to create deft, engaging narratives that bring the face, name, place, and heart of the community to issues like gentrification, immigration, Islamophobia, community policing, and racial and gender discrimination.

The Margins is an online magazine of arts and ideas featuring new fiction and poetry, literary and cultural criticism, and interviews with writers and artists. The Margins is the recipient of a Whiting Literary Magazine award and our stories have been linked to by the Wall Street Journal, The New Inquiry, Literary Hub, and The New York Times. Our contributors include Chang-rae Lee, Jessica Hagedorn, Vijay Iyer, Bhanu Kapil, Katie Kitamura, Hua Hsu, Amitava Kumar, and Yoko Ogawa.

Previous Open City Fellows have gone on to write and report for MSNBC, Granta, Al Jazeera America, the American Prospect, and Slate, among other outlets. Their works during their time as Fellows have been picked up by NPR, The Atlantic Cities, and The New York Times.

Consider applying if:

• You are a strong, voice-driven storyteller who cares about social justice movements and wants to transport readers to places like Flushing, Jackson Heights and Astoria in Queens; Sunset Park, Bay Ridge, and Boerum Hill in Brooklyn; and Mott Haven and Parkchester in The Bronx.

• You are willing to spend time reporting on NYC’s Asian and Muslim neighborhoods, are excited to cultivate trust and sources in your neighborhood, and raring to talk to people about their lives, hopes, and fears;

• You understand the urgency in writing stories that depict how it is to be an Asian, a Muslim, and an immigrant in today’s America;

• Have an entrepreneurial spirit and understand that building a career as a writer includes building a social media presence; and

• Can demonstrate nonfiction writing experience and a dedication to developing a writing career

• You are submitting work to magazines, journals, or other publications and can demonstrate nonfiction writing experience and a dedication to developing a writing career. While we prefer some publication record, we think the strength of your work is more important than its home. We’re looking for writers who are excited to take their writing to the “next level,” and may be dedicated to writing after the fellowship term is up.

• You are excited about getting your hands dirty. This fellowship is for writers who thrive on being “in the field” meeting people and cultivating trust and sources in your neighborhood. Facetime with the community is an important part of this fellowship.

• You are looking to grow and have some experience with the editorial process. You should view this as an opportunity to build a network and take advantage of AAWW’s creative initiatives. 

The Open City Fellowship is a unique initiative that combines publication opportunities, journalism training, and money.

Fellowship Program

The Open City Fellowship is a nine-month program. The 2022 fellowship term will run from January through September.

STIPEND: $2,500 for the duration of the nine-month grant period;

PUBLICATION OPPORTUNITIES: We will publish two long-form pieces and two short ones, or three long-form stories, you’ve written over the nine-month period on our online magazine, The Margins. We want these pieces to be special and we hope you will too.

OPEN CITY WORKSHOP SERIES: We have created a special workshop series just for Open City Fellows. We’ll launch with a special orientation that will feature professional writers and former fellows. Future sessions in the workshop series may deal with interviewing, the craft of writing, photography, multimedia storytelling, and data research;

GUIDANCE AND MENTORSHIP: You’ll receive mentorship and editorial guidance from Senior Editor Noel Pangilinan and will have access to potential resources from the CUNY Journalism School;

AAWW PERKS: You’ll receive free membership to the AAWW, discounts, free access to general programs;

WRITING WORKSHOP: One free writing workshop organized through AAWW ($200 value).

Previous fellows have gone on to write and report for Granta, Al Jazeera America, the New Yorker, among other outlets. Their work during our fellowship has been picked up by NPR, CityLab, and the New York Times.  

Open City Fellows will be required to:

— meet with the Open City editor every two weeks.

— attend six writing workshop sessions, which may include feedback from the Open City editor;

— attend occasional get-togethers with all fellows; and

— attend an initial orientation meeting, that will either be on Zoom, or if the situation permits, in-person.



SUBMITTABLE APPLICATION FORM: We ask you to specify which neighborhoods you are uniquely qualified to cover for Open City. Please note that this year’s applications are now closed and will reopen in Fall, 2022.

PROJECT PROPOSAL: Identify two to three story ideas tied by a common theme in your chosen neighborhood (900 words max)

CV: Upload a 1-3 page resume or CV that also includes publication history;

WRITING SAMPLES: 2 or 3 writing samples that best illustrate the kinds of articles you would like to write for Open City. Samples should not be more than three pages each and must be uploaded to the application form as PDFs or MS Word documents. They should be double-spaced, in 12-point font size, and should not include publication information.


During the fellowship term, fellows must live in one of New York City’s five boroughs: Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan, Staten Island, or Queens. 

Asian American and Asian diasporic writers are eligible to apply. “Asian American” is defined broadly to include not just, say, Chinese and Indian Americans, but also Asian American adoptee and multiracial writers, Indo-Caribbean writers, and West Asians, such as Iranians and Arab Americans.


The Open City Fellows are chosen based on the following criteria:

— Relevance, quality, and cohesiveness of project proposal;

— Merit of past work, based on submitted work sample;

— Demonstrated ability to cover the proposed neighborhoods;

— Career record, as described in the resume;

— Demonstrated willingness to take the most advantage of the Fellowship: e.g., to attend ALL trainings and workshops, and take advantage of publishing opportunities.

Applicants will be assessed based on a multi-round selection process, in which the applicant pool grows smaller in each round. The assessment process will involve Programs Manager Lily Philpott, and Senior Editor Noel Pangilinan, as well as an outside jury comprised of literary and journalism professionals. Finalist applicants will be interviewed in person or online, depending on the pandemic situation.


All applicants must carefully read our FAQ before applying to determine whether they are eligible. The Fellowship is open to writers who are based in New York City, or can claim residency in the city but temporarily relocated due to the pandemic.

To be considered, you must apply by filling out the Submittable application. If you have additional questions, please feel free to contact us at fellowships [at] aaww [dot] org.

• Read our FAQ.
• Get to know The Margins and Open City.

There is no application fee. We do not accept handwritten documents, letters of recommendation, or support materials.

All Open City Fellowship applicants must submit story proposals that comprise pitches and outlines of the stories they plan to write for Open City over the span of the nine-month Fellowship period. Please read the FAQ for more details on how to structure the proposal.

Current Fellows may apply for a second round of Fellowship funding if they have completed all the requirements of their current Fellowship. Fellows will need to wait a year after their second Fellowship to apply again. Past Open City Fellows prior to 2020 may apply for the 2022 Open City Fellowships.