The William Fontaine Endowment was established in 1970 at the University of Pennsylvania in honor of Dr. William Fontaine, professor of philosophy for twenty-one years and the first African-American to become a fully affiliated professor at Penn. From the endowment's inception, Fontaine Fellowships have advanced the University's goals related to diversity by supporting the education of the most under-represented groups in Ph.D. education nationally, including African-American/Black, Mexican American, Puerto Rican, Native American, economically disadvantaged and first-generation college students. Awardees must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents of the U.S.
- Financially, Fontaine Fellowships are configured identically to Benjamin Franklin Fellowships (q.v.).
- Fontaine Fellows must be guaranteed a minimum of four years of full support (unless they are enrolled in a school where a 3-year support package is the norm for fully-funded Ph.D. students).
- Nomination for the Fontaine Fellowship requires the approval by the school’s Graduate Dean.
- Underrepresented students who are fully-funded from other sources may also be designated “Fontaine Fellows”; this designation will entitle them to membership in the Fontaine Society.
Fontaine Fellows typically teach in the second and third years, with non-service funding in the first, fourth, and fifth years.