The Lead Now Fellowship trains and inspires young leaders in the US to carry out sustainable development projects that improve their community’s social, economic, and environmental wellbeing. This fellowship program is run by youth and for youth to create a unique peer-to-peer learning experience. Fellows, age 13-26, are awarded yearlong support and get access to skills-based trainings led by SustainUS partners and leaders, a mentor individually matched to them and their interests, a rich learning community of peers, and a $1000 stipend to support their initiative.
Lead Now Fellows are selected once a year and are evaluated on their potential to realize their project idea, engage others in their work, and make an impact on advancing sustainable development. We also seek to represent a diversity of perspectives, interests and experience levels in each group of fellows.
Virtual Training & Mentorship form the backbone of the program and enable fellows to develop the skills needed to implement successful projects. We host a series of online training sessions throughout the fellowship that follow a customized curriculum in leadership and project development. Between trainings, calls with personal mentors and practical application help to make the skills concrete. Both trainers and mentors are selected to represent a diversity of skill and experience, focusing on those who have started their own initiatives or organizations and match the fellows’ learning interests.
In-Person Trainings are once or twice during the fellowship year and give fellows a chance to get to know each other, share ideas, and go through trainings that are best suited for being physically in the same place. We’ve found that nothing brings a group together better than a shared meal and time spent hanging out.
In parallel to the trainings, fellows practice the skills and insights they pick up through our programming by developing and running their projects. Fellows document their progress and share their successes and challenges with their peers through conference calls and via email/video/photos. The networked and team-building nature of our program allows fellows to work with and learn from each other as they move forward. Additionally, fellows get plugged into SustainUS’s rich network of inspiring young leaders.
The Lead Now Fellowship is designed to be responsive and adaptive to the needs of the current class of fellows. We intentionally seek and work to integrate feedback from participants throughout the program to ensure that we are providing sufficient support for each individual fellow and type of project.
Lead Now not only aims to equip participants with leadership skills to implement their own initiatives, but also to empower its graduates to in turn build capacity for others through their new programs, expanding the magnitude of impact far beyond the original Lead Now participants. Simply put, Lead Now is designed to increase the odds that these youth and their peers will develop new initiatives that make a positive impact and enable them to become leaders in sustainable development throughout their lives.