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Frequently Asked Questions

About the Fellowship

What is the Ford Foundation Global Fellowship?

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

We seek a diverse array of committed individuals who have demonstrated meaningful impact, but whose full potential has yet to be unleashed 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, moral, strategic and profoundly curious to expand their perspectives beyond their current sphere of concern.

The program will focus simultaneously on supporting individuals and building a strong cohort and network.

Over time, we will connect our cohorts of fellows to each other—and to others within the Ford Foundation network—to create a multiplier effect for their work, leading to wider impact within and across regions.

What kind of support is included for fellows?

We believe we can most effectively support fellows in building their influence through a combination of global experience, and leadership and network development. Specifically, the fellowship program includes:

  • Three 4-5 day global convenings, with a focus on experiential learning, held in different regions around the world (as permitted by global COVID-19 conditions).
  • Programming outside of convenings will include regular engagement to reinforce the work and relationships from the convenings.
  • Resources and support to advance each fellow’s leadership development through an Individual Learning Plan.
  • A $25,000 stipend for each fellow in recognition of their ongoing work and their commitment to the fellowship and its expectations.

Where will the fellows come from?

Over the course of the fellowship program, we will select fellows in each of the 11 regions or countries where the Ford Foundation has a presence: United States; Brazil; Andean Region; Mexico and Central America; Eastern Africa; West Africa; Southern Africa; Middle East and North Africa; India, Sri Lanka and Nepal; Indonesia; and China.

The first cohort includes 24 fellows who live and work in Brazil, Eastern Africa, Middle East and North Africa, and the United States.

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

We believe we can most effectively support fellows 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 at the international level and across regions.

How many cohorts will there be?

The foundation is making an initial commitment to 10 cohorts over the next decade, with approximately 240 fellows.

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.

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:

  1. Be 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.
  2. Be 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.
  3. Demonstrate a Combination of Leadership Qualities: Fellows will have a range of leadership skills, including moral and ethical leadership; creativity, strategic thinking and dedication; and humility.
  4. Be 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” (but we have no strict age definition);
  • Relatively under-resourced and under-networked;
  • Committed to the time and requirements of the fellowship (see the “Fellowship Expectations” section);
  • Be proficient in English, or have a commitment to pursuing fluency through the fellowship period, if they are not already.

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 social 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 expect to 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).

Are elected officials able to participate in the program?

No. While this program is open to individuals who work in the government sector, elected officials 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 work in one of the regions where Ford operates (outlined in the “About the Fellowship” section). For the first cohort, we selected candidates from four regions: Brazil, East Africa, Middle East and North Africa, and the United States.

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 many fellows not to 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?

All fellowship programming will be conducted in English, but candidates who demonstrate that they are on a path to proficiency may be considered.

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 requirements and time expectations for fellows?

Since this is the first cohort of the Ford Foundation Global Fellowship, we view the fellows as co-creators of the fellowship experience, for themselves and for future cohorts. Our goal is to design the fellowship to meet the needs and interests of our fellows, and to learn from them and refine the program over time. Cohort one of the Ford Foundation Global Fellowship runs from February 2020 through July 2021.

Specific expectations and time commitments include:

  • Full, active and engaged participation in three, 4-5 day convenings. Convenings will rotate to different locations around the world (as permitted by global COVID-19). Fellows must be able to participate in every day of every convening.
  • Work with the Ford Foundation to co-create and facilitate select convening content.
  • Approximately 1 to 6 hours each month for additional activities, including developing and pursuing an Individual Learning Plan; sharing insights and learnings with the cohort; and supporting the learning of other fellows.
  • Participation in regular calls and webinars with other fellows and with fellowship staff in between convenings.
  • Sharing responsibility for creating a supportive, collaborative community of fellows, during the fellowship and alumni years.
  • Ongoing collaboration with the Ford Foundation to evaluate and refine the program for future cohorts, including participation in all learning and evaluation activities.
  • “Paying it forward” by remaining engaged with the fellowship program as an alum, such as by nominating future fellows or serving as a mentor or coach to future fellows.

Will fellows be paid a stipend?

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

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

No, the Ford Foundation will cover all travel costs to fellowship convenings.

What languages will be included in the Fellowship program?

All fellowship programming will be conducted in English. However, 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?

The first cohort of 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 and staff 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.

Who are the nominators, and how are they chosen?

Nominators are a mix of Ford Foundation staff and partners with extensive networks in the 11 regions of the fellowship program.

Does someone need to be nominated to apply?


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

We can accept nominations from candidates that nominators know very well—or 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.

How often do you accept applications?

We expect to select a new cohort annually.

If a nominee is not chosen, can they be nominated again for a future round?