Maryland Community Fellows
The Maryland Community Fellows program (MCFP) is a unique paid fellowship opportunity for ambitious and mission-driven students. Fellows are trained in federal and state tax law and placed at Community Action Agencies (CAAs) to provide free tax preparation services to low-to-moderate income Marylanders. Community Action Agencies were established in 1964 to fight poverty and promote self-sufficiency in low-income communities by providing a range of programs and supports to community members, including the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, which has operated for over 50 years.
Fellows will primarily focus on:
- Providing one-on-one tax preparation and/or tax return quality review services to VITA clients;
- Helping VITA clients understand and meet their tax responsibilities;
- Ensuring that eligible VITA clients claim tax credits – for example, the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) (https://www.taxoutreach.org/tax-credits/earned-income-tax-credit/) and Child Tax Credit (CTC) (https://www.taxoutreach.org/tax-credits/child-tax-credit/) – and every tax benefit they may quality for;
- Referring VITA clients to other helpful services and programs to help them save money, build assets, and reach financial goals.
Who Are the Maryland Community Fellows?
Maryland Community Fellows come from various academic backgrounds but they always have one thing in common: they are passionate about giving back to their communities.
Historically, CASH has recruited students from the following institutions:
- American University
- Frostburg State University
- George Washington University
- Montgomery College
- Salisbury University
- Towson University
- University of Baltimore
- University of Maryland Baltimore County
- University of Maryland Eastern Shore
- University of Maryland School of Social Work
- University of Maryland Smith School of Business
- Western Governors University
- Wor-Wic Community College
- and more!
Fellows pursue degrees in various majors, such as:
- Africana Studies
- Business & Business Administration
- Chinese Language & Literature
- Creative Writing
- Information Systems
- International Peace & Conflict Resolution
- Politics/Public Policy
- Social Work
- Quantitative Finance
- and more!
Don’t see your school or major represented? Be the first to apply!
What Do Maryland Community Fellows Alumni Have To Say?
Maryland Community Fellows alumni have gone on to do all sorts of things after graduation from school and the Fellows program, including continuing higher education and finding full time employment at competitive accounting firms or free tax preparation programs!
Here’s what several Maryland Community Fellows alumni had to say about their experiences:
“The experience paid dividends in my professional and personal growth as I worked with a diverse scope of clients and staff. I was positively challenged to go above and beyond while also being supported along each step.”
– Malcolm Woodbury, Fellow placed with Lifestyles of Maryland in Charles County
“The Maryland Community Fellows Program gave me the opportunity to increase awareness about VITA. I got to return the next year and make an impact as a tax site manager!”
– Noah Johnston, Fellow placed with Baltimore City Community Action Partnership; currently Manager of CASH’s Tax Counseling for the Elderly Free Tax Sites
“You incorporate what you learn directly into your work. It was a great opportunity and a great starting point in the professional world.”
– Talya Marazzo, Fellow placed with Human Services Program of Carroll County
“This program is one of the best ways to practice what we’ve learned in school.”
– Benoit Codija, Fellow with the Montgomery County Community Action Agency (MCCAA), currently tax consultant with MCCAA
General Job Duties
Maryland Community Fellows’ job duties may include:
- Successfully pass advanced level certification exam for the IRS’ Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program and effectively become an expert in VITA, tax laws, and tax credits;
- Work with your placement site to implement a VITA free tax preparation site during tax season;
- Certify as a VITA Site Coordinator, if requested by placement site staff;
- Support volunteer recruitment and management of VITA volunteers;
- Assist in the general administration of the VITA program;
- Provide referrals and access to other helpful financial capability resources and services;
- Provide taxpayer financial education during individual appointments, where applicable;
- Attend professional development training webinars and complete written assignments; and
- Other duties as assigned.
Desired Skills & Attributes
- Proficiency in computer applications and software, such as Microsoft Office suite, Google suite, Slack, TaxSlayer, etc.;
- Superior customer service skills;
- Ability to excel in team settings;
- Ability to work independently and complete tasks with minimal supervision;
- Attention to details and comfort working on multiple projects simultaneously;
- Excellent communication skills, including ability to communicate with program supervisors and administrators promptly and effectively, as well as tax clients and other volunteers; and
- Ability to meet deadlines and submit required materials (timesheets, evaluations, schedules, written assignments, etc.) in a timely fashion and upon request by program staff
Eligible candidates must:
- Be currently enrolled in a degree program as a graduate student; or an undergraduate junior or senior for at least one semester during the program year (relevant work experience can be substituted for education);
- Have a 3.0 GPA (or reasonable justification for lower GPA);
- Be legally eligible and authorized to work in the United States (without employer sponsorship); and
- Able to leave campus and travel to placement site (must have reliable transportation).
Program Timeframe & Schedule
The Maryland Community Fellows Program begins in November 2023 and ends in April 2024. Fellows are expected to work 1 day (~8 hours) a week at their site location in the Fall, and 3 days (~20 hours) a week in the Spring. Fellows complete a maximum of 400 hours throughout the duration of the Fellowship, which translates to ~100 hours in the Fall semester, and ~300 hours in the Spring semester.
In the Fall, Fellows will focus on tax law training and orientation to their placement site. In the Spring, Fellows will focus on providing free tax preparation services. Fellows will be required to attend bi-weekly video conference calls with their cohort, and to submit monthly written assignments.
Payment & Training
Fellows will receive a stipend of up to $7,200 ($18/hour) for the duration of the Fellowship, paid bi-weekly. Fellows will receive paid training on federal and state tax law. Fellows will also receive financial education and professional development opportunities at no cost.
Placement Site Locations
Placements are available in the following locations:
- Allegany County
- Baltimore City Metro Area
- Carroll County
- Charles County (including work in Prince George’s and St. Mary’s counties)
- Montgomery County
- Wicomico County (including work in Worcester and Somerset counties)
Fellows have historically been placed with the following organizations:
- Baltimore City Community Action Partnership
- Human Resource Development Commission of Allegany County (hyperlink)
- Human Services Program of Carroll County
- Lifestyles of Maryland
- Montgomery County Community Action Agency
- SHORE UP! Inc.
If you are interested in the Maryland Community Fellows Program, please proceed to complete this form. Please note that you will be requested to upload the following documents as part of your application:
Cover letter; and
Academic transcript (official or unofficial)
Questions? Please contact Megan@cashmd.org
Will you be our next Maryland Community Fellow?