Rising Leaders Fellowship

“Rising Leaders Fellowship kept me at my job. I was thinking about leaving because I didn’t feel like anyone else at my workplace was interested in cultural relevancy, and was feeling frustrated and disillusioned. RLF gave me the community and feeling of support I needed to make the choice to stay at my workplace, and the tools to talk to management productively to make changes in our staff trainings and the way we relate to our participants. RLF also gave me a community of like-minded people doing inspiring work, which was a fountain of inspiration and good ideas to take to my work and workplace.”

What is the Rising Leaders Fellowship?

Now in its sixth year, the Rising Leaders Fellowship supports the professional development of individuals in entry- to mid-level positions within youth-serving outdoor programs. Specifically, Youth Outside targets individuals who are enthusiastic about connecting youth to the outdoors in culturally relevant and inclusive ways by effecting culture change within their organizations. The Rising Leaders Fellowship builds professional capacity while creating a supportive network of like-minded leaders through a project-based cohort series that focuses on social justice and equity in the outdoors.

Program Overview

A cohort of up to 20 fellows is selected to participate in an eight-session series. Fellows participate in all three of the components outlined below. The Fellowship culminates with participant-led presentations on the benefits to youth of increased cultural relevancy in programs.

In-person sessions: The in-person sessions will consist of capacity building modules, peer coaching and community building. These sessions will focus on personal and organizational development. Participants will be required to bring internal documents for learning purposes. A list of topics and the required documents can be found below.

Increased Relevancy Project: Fellows will be asked to identify opportunities for increased cultural relevancy within their organization and develop a plan of action that addresses one or more identified opportunities. Inside of smaller work groups, fellows will serve as peer coaches through this process and will present on their efforts and findings at the culminating session.

Individual Coaching: Each participant will have the opportunity to receive up to three hours of individual coaching. The purpose of coaching is to explore areas of personal and/or professional development in a supportive environment.

Topics & Objectives

  • Social Justice – Explore related concepts and practices to move toward a just society; examine the historical context of exclusion in the United States and how this impacts youth.
  • Power & Privilege – Examine power and privilege dynamics and the impact these can have on youth; explore opportunities to leverage power and privilege.
  • Intentional Communication – Develop effective and intentional communication strategies for authentic relationship building between staff and youth.
  • Strategic Planning – Analyze organizations’ strategic plans and if/how equity and inclusion are incorporated into the plan; explore opportunities to ground strategic plans in youth narrative.
  • Youth Empowerment – Explore the concept of trauma-informed youth development and identify opportunities to increase cultural relevancy in youth programming.
  • Curriculum Development – Analyze curriculum for implicit bias and explore avenues to incorporate youth voice in curriculum and programs.
  • Fund Development – Examine the ways in which youth narrative is being communicated; explore how deficit-minded fundraising can harm youth.

Why Does Youth Outside Offer the Rising Leaders Fellowship?

We strive to ensure that the lived experience of all youth is honored as part of their outdoor experience and work to create equitable and inclusive connections to nature through grantmaking, capacity building, and trainings. Youth Outside recognizes that within the environmental movement, efforts need to be supported that will attract and retain talented people of color and other communities who have had historic and systemic barriers to accessing the outdoors. To this end, Youth Outside delivers the Rising Leaders Fellowship.

To learn more about the impact the Rising Leaders Fellowship is having on the outdoor field, read our new evaluation report, produced by Informing Change.