Next Application Period is January 2025

O'Brien logoO'Brien Fellows spend nine months reporting stories with the power to compel change.

Lee HawkinsLee Hawkins, 2022-23 O’Brien Fellow

“This is an opportunity for us to make a much bigger statement by doing the investigative work necessary to expose injustices."



Backed by Marquette University, the O'Brien Fellowship helps news professionals dig deep while mentoring student journalists.

The program honors Marquette alumni Alicia and Perry O'Brien. Their daughter, Patricia Frechette, and her husband, Peter, donated $8.3 million in 2012 to create the fellowship. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is a co-founder and partner. 

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 The Latest O'Brien-Backed Journalism

  • The Right to Read
  • The Flight of Banks
  • A New Prescription

Reading Disparities in Schools

O'Brien Fellow Sarah Carr investigated reading disparities in schools and the actions people are taking to close them. This series breaks down how these disparities often play out through a child's life and what approaches are being taken to change that narrative.

Sarah Carr The Right to Read

Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu / THE WASHINGTON POST

Small Business Financial Access

O'Brien Fellow Sari Lesk investigated the struggles that Milwaukee entrepreneurs, many of them racial minorities, face when trying to access funding to start or scale their business. Many small business owners said they found themselves rejected by traditional banks.

The Flight of Banks   


Social Determinants of Health

O'Brien Fellow Guy Boulton investigated the social determinants of health across the country, including here in Milwaukee. The story breaks down how social services can be more important to health than access to medical services despite the U.S. health care system accounting for a fifth of the economy.

A New Prescription


A Unique Journalism Fellowship

  • Report and produce an in-depth public service journalism project on a regional, national or international topic.
  • Receive a $75,000 salary stipend and additional support.
  • Fellows traditionally are in residence, but we are now taking remote or partial remote applications along with full-residency arrangements. The O’Brien newsroom is housed at Marquette University’s Diederich College of Communication near downtown Milwaukee and the Lake Michigan shore.
  • Publish or broadcast the project through your home news organization or, in the case of independent journalists, another outlet.
  • Integrate Marquette’s best journalism students into your projects as reporters and researchers.
  • Help identify a journalism student for a university-funded summer internship at your news organization or other publisher.

Marquette University challenges students and staff to “be the difference” in improving the community. The Catholic and Jesuit institution has educated journalists for 100 years.

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