Rising Leaders Fellowship 2020

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. 

Please note that applications are now closed for the 2020 Rising Leaders Fellowship. We will announce this year’s cohort in April. Thanks to everyone who applied!

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 racial equity in the outdoors.

After bringing the Rising Leaders Fellowship to the South Bay in 2019 through generous support from the Applied Materials Fund, we’re returning to the Oakland/San Francisco area for the 2020 cohort.

Program Overview

A cohort of up to 20 fellows will be selected to participate in an eight-session series that runs from April through December 2020. Participants are expected to participate in all three of the components outlined below. The Fellowship will culminate with participant-led presentations on the benefits to youth of increased cultural relevancy in programs. A schedule with specific dates and times of each session is provided below.

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 – Examine effective and intentional communication strategies for authentic relationship building between staff and youth.
  • Strategic Planning – Analyze organizations’ strategic plans and if/how racial equity and inclusion are incorporated into the plan; explore opportunities to ground strategic plans in youth narrative.
  • Youth Development – 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.

Eligibility Criteria

  • Applicant is employed with a non-profit organization that serves youth through outdoor programming or outdoor education.
  • Applicant holds an entry- or mid-level position within their organization (this may include direct program staff, program leads, program coordinators, or middle management).
  • Applicant is committed to effecting change within their organization and the outdoor field at large, and to promoting cultural relevancy as a framework for increased equity and inclusion within the outdoor field.
  • Applicant is committed to being fully present at each session, and to their own personal and professional growth.
  • Applicant has the approval of their organization’s Executive Director and/or direct supervisor to participate in the program in its entirety.
  • Applicant can commit to full program participation, including attendance of all in-person sessions and peer check-ins.
  • Applicant is able to obtain the following documents from their organization:
    1. Strategic plan (or strategic planning documents)
    2. Organization mission and vision statements
    3. Youth discipline policies; incident report form
    4. Organizational budget AND/OR program budget
    5. Previously written grant proposal (2-5 pages)
    6. Commonly used piece of curriculum
    7. Job description for participant’s current position AND job description for position that works directly with youth (if not applicant’s current role)
  • Applicant has the capacity to provide a $200 deposit upon selection. Deposit will be fully refunded upon successful completion of the program.  [Deposit can be made by the sponsoring organization or by the individual participating in the program]

Program Schedule

Session 1: Thursday, April 23, 2020

Session 2: Thursday, May 28, 2020

Session 3: Thursday, June 25, 2020

Session 4: Thursday, August 27, 2020

Session 5: Thursday, September 24, 2020

Session 6: Thursday, October 22, 2020

Session 7: Thursday, November 19, 2020

Session 8: Thursday, December 10, 2020

Time: 10AM to 3:30PM (Breakfast & Lunch Provided)

Session Location: In-person sessions will be held in Oakland or San Francisco. Exact locations TBA.

Individual Coaching: Meeting location(s) will be scheduled between coach and participant

Time Commitment

The total time estimated for participation includes the following:

  • 8 in-person sessions (5-hour sessions plus travel to and from location)
  • 4 to 8 peer check-ins (participant-established timeframes)
  • 1 to 3 individual coaching session (3 hours)

Application Process

Application Priority Deadline: All applications must be submitted online or to operations@youthoutside.org by end of day, Friday, February 21, 2020

Application Final Deadline: End of day, Friday, March 6, 2020

Interviews: February 25 – March 30, 2020

Selection Announcement: April 3, 2020

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

Am I still eligible to apply if:

  • I’m passionate about this work, but currently in transition between organizations?
    • Yes, please include this information in your application.
  • I identify as white, not as a person of color, nor as someone who has experienced historic barriers?
    • Yes, we encourage everyone to apply regardless of how they identify. We do, however, prioritize the participation of professionals of color. Here’s why.
  • I’m currently working at more than one organization, or working at an organization part time?
    • Yes, please include this information in your application.
  • I know that I’ll have at least one date conflict?
    • Yes, if you are invited to interview, please let the program team know the date.
  • I’m unable to obtain one or more of the required documents from my organization?
    • Yes, you are still be eligible to apply.

Priority Deadline:

  • What does it mean?
    • Applications submitted by the priority deadline will be invited for an interview and guaranteed a spot in the cohort , should their application and interview be successful.
  • What happens if I don’t submit until March 6th?
    • Your application will be considered eligible for review, but will not be considered a priority application.

For more information about the program or questions regarding the application, please contact Sierra Mathias at operations@youthoutside.org