James E. Clyburn Political Fellowship


The South Carolina Democratic Party James E. Clyburn Political Fellowship (Clyburn Fellowship) offers leadership, policy, and campaign training to young professionals living in South Carolina. The Clyburn Fellowship was created to develop and train the next generation of Democratic leaders.

Over the course of a year members will meet during four two-day intensive seminars over a twelve-month program. Each session will be led by experienced and accomplished national and state facilitators. These facilitators will help the participants explore the concepts and challenges of party leadership. This includes learning proven campaign strategies and developing skills critical to winning elections. Ultimately this program shapes members on their way to becoming politicians, campaign managers, fundraising directors and consultants in local, county and state party operations.


The goal of the Fellowship is to develop the next generation of leadership and talent in the South Carolina Democratic Party. At the conclusion of the program, each member will be equipped to work in the field of politics that best suits their aspirations. Each will have abilities vital not only to winning offices but governing as well.

Background on James E. Clyburn

The Fellowship is named after one of the most successful Congressmen in the history of the South Carolina Democratic Party. James E. Clyburn is currently serving his second term as House Majority Whip in the United States House of Representatives, making him the third ranking Democrat in Leadership. Previously, Clyburn served as Assistant Democratic Leader, House Democratic Caucus Chairman and Vice Chairman, as well as Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus. In 1993, Clyburn became the first African-American to serve in Congress from South Carolina since reconstruction. Before becoming a member of Congress, Clyburn was extremely active in South Carolina politics.

Fellowship Requirements and Qualifications

We’re looking for a diverse and dynamic group of men and women who are interested in running for office, running political campaigns and developing into leaders in the Democratic Party. Applications are sought from individuals who are interested in enhancing their leadership and political skills in order to better serve their communities, constituencies and causes.

Candidates for the fellowship should be residents of South Carolina, eighteen years of age or older, and be considered or have the potential to be among the top young leaders within their respective counties.

Desired Clyburn Fellows Qualifications

  • Dedication to the values of the Democratic Party
  • Interest in running for or helping others achieve public office
  • Desire to participate in the political process and to strengthen leadership skills
  • Experience in local community activities and electoral politics
  • Ability to excite and expand the Democratic base
  • Willingness to learn and explore different points of view

The curriculum for the training sessions will include discussions of the following:

  • Examining the challenges of leadership and qualities of leadership necessary to master the forces of change;
  • Exploring various political case studies related to topics like political ethics;
  • Developing a winning strategy and executing a successful campaign;
  • Recruiting and managing staff and volunteers;
  • Creating and communicating messages that educate and motivate others into action;
  • Running a local party apparatus;
  • Building a fundraising program and raising the necessary funds to win;
  • Understanding the balance of a field versus media strategy in today’s campaigns; and
  • Utilizing data, social media, and the latest technology to win elections.

Fellowship and Schedule

There are 4 sessions throughout the course of the year. Sessions are generally scheduled one weekend every other month and typically begin at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday and conclude by 2:00 p.m. on Sunday. Applicants are expected to attend all sessions to be considered for the Fellowship, though one absence is permitted for graduation from the program. Start times and end times of sessions are subject to change. A complete schedule will be available upon acceptance into the program.

The fellowship covers participants’ lodging, meals and program costs; however, members are responsible for travel and parking expenses.


Becoming a Clyburn Fellow requires a substantial time commitment. Participants are expected to attend all four weekend sessions and to fully participate in order to receive a certificate of completion. If your schedule will not permit this, please delay your application until you are able to make this time commitment. Due to campaign demands, the SCDP typically does not accept applications from candidates or candidate staff who will be engaged in a campaign during the Fellowship year.


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