The hope is that, with their real-world focus, these studios are creating a different kind of architect —one motivated by imagination and public spirit. “Students coming out are raising interesting questions about how one practices today,” says Parsons' Lewis. “We're seeing alumni translating the knowledge they get into design/build or offices with a more immediate relationship to construction economies.” That's good news—not just for the profession and nonprofits, but for everyone.

good fellows

Graduation from architecture school brings with it energy, idealism, and an appetite for self-invention, but it often brings a mountain of debt too. What's a socially conscious young graduate to do? One option is the Frederick P. Rose Architectural Fellowship. Established by the late developer Frederick P. Rose, of the New York City-headquartered Jonathan Rose Companies, and run by Enterprise Community Partners (ECP), the program pays a community development corporation (CDC) to bring an architect on staff for three years.

ECP chooses the CDCs and drafts the work program, which typically includes the roles of project manager, green guru, and vision keeper. In exchange, recipients receive more than the security of a regular paycheck. In addition to being sponsored for licensing and LEED accreditation, the nine fellows (three are chosen annually) meet several times each year for formal training on such topics as understanding tax credits, how to use a financial calculator, and negotiating skills. “Our goal is to create a next generation of architects who understand the community development process and can be leaders in that field,” says fellowship director Katie Swenson.

Through May 1, ECP is accepting applications for the next round of fellowships, which begin in September (www.rosefellowship.org/join). “We look for good designers with a demonstrated commitment to social and environmental justice and an entrepreneurial spirit,” Swenson says, adding that this isn't the Peace Corps. “We don't look for people who want an experience, but for people who want to make a career in this work.”