About the Fellowship

What is the Ford Foundation Global Fellowship?

The Ford Foundation Global Fellowship is a program that identifies and connects emerging leaders from across the globe who are advancing innovative ideas and solutions to combat inequality—and gives them the support to work better, faster, and deeper.

We seek a diverse array of committed leaders who have demonstrated meaningful impact, but whose full potential has yet to be fully realized because of a lack of resources or access to a global network. We are particularly interested in people who are examining and addressing the root causes of inequality. Candidates should be ethical individuals, lead with visible integrity, and be profoundly curious to expand their perspectives beyond their current sphere of concern.

The program focuses on both supporting individuals and building a strong Fellowship community. Individuals will join both a cohort of Fellows and the broader Fellowship community consisting of past and future cohorts. Over time, new cohorts of Fellows will connect with the wider FGF Alumni Community of Practice and broader Ford network to contribute to an expanding ecosystem of relationships between leaders and other social justice networks. 

Launched in 2020, the foundation is making an initial commitment of ten years to build this Community of Practice and intends to support approximately 240 Fellows over that period of time. Each Fellow will receive a US $25,000 stipend.

What does it mean to build a “Community of Practice” with the Ford Global Fellowship?

A “Community of Practice” (CoP) is a group of people who share a commitment to a particular field or area and who have a passion and curiosity for learning how to improve their work. The group, composed of all current and past Fellows, interacts with each other regularly and reflects on and learns from their own behaviors, practices, and decisions. We envision catalyzing a powerful set of relationships and resources to create a multiplier effect for Fellows to create challenges and changes to systems and conditions that perpetuate inequality, leading to wider impact within and across regions.

Through the Fellowship experience, we support the individuals and the full community of Fellows in the development of deliberate, trusting, and generative relationships so they can build their practice together. Our Fellows share both interest and expertise in advancing justice, and they engage in shared visioning and problem-solving, building both individual skills and collective power.

Will Fellows be paid a stipend?

Yes, Fellows will receive a US$25,000 stipend.

Where will the Fellows come from?

The Fellowship includes Fellows from each of the 11 regions or countries where the Ford Foundation has a presence. Fellows for the upcoming cohort will be selected from: United States; Brazil; Andean Region; Mexico and Central America; India, Sri Lanka and Nepal;  Eastern Africa; West Africa; Southern Africa; Middle East and North Africa; Indonesia; and China.

Why limit to 11 regions if this Fellowship is “global”?

We believe we can most effectively engage with leaders in the regions where the foundation has an extensive network of partners and a long history of working across sectors and issues. Although the Fellows will be selected from these regions, we expect to have some Fellows with experience working across regions.

How many Fellows will there be?

The foundation is making an initial commitment of ten years to build this Community of Practice and intends to support approximately 240 Fellows over that period of time.

How do these Fellowships fit into Ford’s work on inequality?

Throughout our history, the foundation’s approach has been characterized by a continuous emphasis on building institutions and networks, investing in individuals and leadership, and supporting new ideas. We believe these “three I’s” are essential to addressing the complex, deeply rooted drivers of inequality. The Ford Foundation Global Fellowship will reinforce our investments in individuals, and complement our work to strengthen institutions and generate innovative ideas.

Is the Ford Foundation Global Fellowship a continuation of Ford’s International Fellowships Program (IFP)?

No. Ford ended its International Fellowship Program in 2013. However, both programs seek to identify and support social change leaders and in their selection criteria put a premium on demonstrated social commitment. The Ford Global Fellows Program does not provide tuition support while the IFP included support for formal academic study.

Candidate Qualifications

Who is the ideal candidate?

There is not one single archetype of leader that makes for an ideal Ford Foundation Global Fellow. In fact, we are intentionally seeking a diverse cohort of leaders so that Fellows can learn from one another, and can generate fresh thinking on how to address inequality across borders and contexts. In the context of the Ford Global Fellowship, our focus is to ensure each cohort includes individuals who represent a wide diversity of approaches and ways of thinking about disrupting inequality. We believe this diversity of thought and approach will create fertile conditions for innovations and evolutions in ideas, strategies, and tactics.

What are the qualifications to be a Ford Foundation Global Fellow?

We expect that Fellows will have some common competencies and potential. Every fellow will be:

  • Proximate to and directly engaged in addressing inequality: Fellows must be leading work that is intentionally focused on addressing the root causes of inequality and tackling problems at the systemic level.
  • Expansive in their approach and potential: This includes leaders who may be intersectional or interdisciplinary thinkers and actors; those who have global interest, including interest in learning outside of their context; leaders with demonstrated openness and curiosity; those with commitment to reach beyond their current sphere; and those who are forward-looking in their approach to solutions.
  • An ethical leader who embodies a combination of skills: Fellows will have a range of leadership skills, including operating with morality and integrity, demonstrating creativity, strategic thinking and dedication, acting with humility, and embodying a deep curiosity about learning from and with other leaders.
  • Poised to benefit from the Fellowship experience: Fellows will have both a demonstrated meaningful track record, but also be positioned for future impact. This means that they will be:
  • Broadly “mid-career”;
  • Relatively under-resourced and under-networked;
  • Committed to the time and requirements of the Fellowship (see the “Fellowship Expectations” section) and interested in building sustained relationships across the Community of Practice over time;
  • Willing to pursue proficiency in conversational English by the start of the Fellowship experience.
  • Willing to be visible at the global level: Global Fellowship is a high profile initiative of the Ford Foundation. This brings with it immense opportunity, but also potential personal risk for those advocating for certain populations or working on contentious issues. Potential applicants should be mindful of this visibility as they consider whether this is a right fit for them.

Who is not a great fit?

Because we want to ensure that Fellows are poised to benefit from the experience, we are not looking for Fellows who are already well-established with robust global networks and resources. Similarly, we also seek candidates who have not been the beneficiaries of other Fellowship programs (although we will not disqualify applicants who have received other Fellowships or awards).

Is the Fellowship intended for individuals working on specific issues or topics? Do they need to work on issues that the Ford Foundation supports through grant-making?

While it is critical that all Fellows are engaged in addressing inequality and advancing justice, Fellows are not required to work in areas that are aligned to Ford’s current grant-making priorities. We expect that some Fellows’ work will be interdisciplinary in nature, or might be at the intersection of multiple issues such as land rights and civic engagement, or immigration and economic empowerment.

What sectors will the Fellows come from?

We seek to build and support a diverse cohort of individuals from a wide range of sectors, including the public sector, private sector and civil society. We also include artists and academics. We are seeking the best candidates, regardless of their sector or organizational affiliation (and we expect that some Fellows may not be affiliated with any institution or organization, or may even work across multiple sectors).

Are government officials able to participate in the program?

No. While this program is open to individuals who work in the government sector, current government officials in an elective or appointive public office are not eligible to be Fellows.

Where do the Fellows need to live? Do they need to move somewhere to be a fellow?

This is not a residential fellowship program, but Fellows should live and/or work in one of the participating Ford regions (outlined in the “About the Fellowship” section).

Does the fellow’s work need to be focused on the country they live in?

No. While some Fellows’ work will be deeply focused on their country or region, some Fellows’ work will span multiple countries or regions. For all Fellows, regardless of the geographic focus of their work, we expect them to be expansive in their approach and potential, including an interest in learning outside of their context.

Beyond the selection considerations, are there eligibility requirements?

We cannot select Fellows who are:

  • Under 18;
  • Candidates for a political office chosen through a partisan election, either currently or during the Fellowship term.

Can people affiliated with Ford Foundation grantees be Fellows? Can past recipients of other Ford Foundation Fellowship programs be Fellows?

Yes. However, because we are looking for individuals who have been relatively under-resourced and under-networked, we expect most Fellows will not be affiliated with current or former Ford Foundation grantees, and not to have received other Ford Fellowships. Ford staff and their family members are not eligible.

How does the Fellowship accommodate applicants and Fellows with disabilities?

It is important to us that people with disabilities can fully participate in our Fellowship. We will provide reasonable accommodations deemed necessary for qualified candidates and Fellows to participate in the selection process and in the Fellowship.

Is English proficiency required?

The global nature of our community requires a common language for Fellows to communicate with each other. All Fellowship programming will be conducted in English, but candidates who demonstrate that they are on a path to proficiency may be considered. If not already fluent in English, candidates must be willing to pursue proficiency in both written and spoken English by the start of the Fellowship experience, and have a commitment to pursuing fluency through the Fellowship period.

Is there an age requirement?

Applicants must be over age 18. While we do not have a specific age requirement, we are looking for applicants who are mid-career and at an inflection point; specifically, we are seeking applicants who have some record of prior success but also great potential for future increased impact.

Fellowship Expectations

What are the program commitments and time expectations for Fellows?

Fellows are co-creators of the Fellowship experience alongside the Foundation, and the full Community of Practice. We will design the Fellowship to meet the needs and interests of our Fellows, and to learn with them and continue to refine the program over time. We anticipate the next Cohort of the Ford Foundation Global Fellowship will run from early 2025 through mid-year of 2026.

Specific expectations and time commitments include:

  1. Full, active, and engaged participation in three week-long in-person gatherings and regular virtual cohort experiences during the Fellowship period. Candidates must commit to participating in all multi-day gatherings and monthly virtual cohort connection activities during their Fellowship period. There are also optional community building and co-created learning opportunities which Fellows may join or even lead.
  2. Active co-creation of the Community of Practice with the Foundation, including refining the learning agenda and the Fellowship’s culture, practices, and activities. This will include sharing individual insights and learnings with the broader community, supporting the learning of other Fellows, and participating in reflection and evaluation of the insights and innovations generated by our community to build and distribute new knowledge and practices together. Fellows will share responsibility for creating a supportive, collaborative community with their peers and with the Foundation, both during the Fellowship and continuing as an ongoing member of the Alumni Community of Practice.
  3. Pursuing an Individual Learning Plan. Engaging in approximately 4-6 hours each month for additional activities, including developing and pursuing an Individual Learning Plan, with the option of working with a leadership coach.
  4. “Paying it forward” by remaining engaged with the Alumni Community of Practice as an active member. After the initial Fellowship period, Fellows who are in good standing will continue to be members of the FGF Community of Practice and will be invited to All Fellow gatherings and other related activities and events. As the community evolves, this may include hosting regional conversations as part of the Community of Practice, nominating future Fellows, or serving as a mentor or coach to future Fellows.

Do Fellows need to cover the costs of travel to convenings?

No, the Ford Foundation will cover all travel costs associated with the Fellowship.

What languages will be included in the Fellowship program?

All Fellowship programming will be conducted in English. However, under some circumstances we will provide resources and support for Fellows who are not already fluent in English but are on a path to proficiency.

The Nomination And Selection Process

What is the nomination and selection process?

Fellows are chosen through a 4-step nomination and selection process, based on the considerations and eligibility requirements outlined in the “Candidate Qualifications” section.

The 4 steps are:

  1. Nomination: Ford receives nominations from selected nominators based on the selection considerations for the Ford Foundation Global Fellowship.
  2. Application: The regional Ford team reviews the nominations to ensure eligibility and fit and invites selected candidates to complete the application for the Fellowship.
  3. Regional Interview: The regional Ford team reviews applications and invites selected candidates to participate in a virtual interview.
  4. Global Interview: Following the regional interviews, select candidates will be invited to participate in a virtual global interview. Each candidate who advances to this stage will be expected to submit two references that will be checked as part of the due diligence process.

Who are the nominators, and how are they chosen?

Nominators are identified by both Ford’s regional offices and the Fellowship team with a focus on expanding beyond the usual networks to find a diverse, eclectic, and high-potential pool of nominees.

Does someone need to be nominated to apply?


How well do nominators need to know a candidate to nominate them?

We can accept nominations of candidates that nominators know very well and of candidates that nominators know less well. What matters is that we know the relationship between nominator and nominee. Foundation staff will do additional exploratory work to vet a candidate.

Should nominators tell potential Fellows that they are being nominated?

Nominators have the choice whether to tell potential Fellows that they are being nominated. Once nominations have been reviewed by the Ford Foundation, foundation staff will reach out to qualified nominees to invite them to submit an application.