Bridging Fellows

Our Bridging Fellows

Summer Service National Coordinator, Mennonite Central Committee
President/CEO, Justice Journey Alliance, Leadership Foundation of Chicago
Vice President Human Resources, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Dallas
CEO/Executive Director, Young Leaders Strong City
Senior Program Officer for Arts & Culture, The Pittsburgh Foundation
Strategic Director, Cancer & Environment Network of Southwestern Pennsylvania
Community Engagement Specialist/Research Scholar, New York University School of Law
Farmer / Re-wilder Oasis Farm & Fishery, Braddock Food Collaborative
President & CEO, UrbanKind Institute
Community Artist/Muralist, UrbanKind Institute
Executive Director, Dallas Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation
Co Founder, Chief Strategy and Development Officer, Business Services Collective
Director of Ventures, CityBridge Education
Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas
Co-Director / Program Manager, House Of Rebirth / Youth 2 Power
Community Pollinator // Teaching Artist // Council Member, YMCA

Bridging Fellows FAQs

A Bridging Fellow engages individuals, communities, and/or organizations for the purpose of building bridges across varying differences, including ideological, racial, socioeconomic, and geographical. Bridging Fellows – formally and/or informally – build relationships, trust, and opportunities for open and honest communication toward sustainable change and impact.

We encourage changemakers from all backgrounds in Chicago, Dallas, and Pittsburgh to apply, including but not limited to: leaders working locally in these cities across nonprofits, foundations, community groups, social movements, research communities, and for-profit social enterprises.

Examples: Activists, community residents, community liaisons, youth development coordinators, program officers, case managers, community organizers, educators, human resource professionals, etc.

Specific criteria for applicants:

Demonstrate passion and leadership in addressing one of society’s toughest challenges
Show self-awareness, vulnerability, and an openness to learning
Commitment and awareness of diversity, inclusion, and equity’s impact on social change work, and a willingness to engage on racial equity in personal and professional conversations
Illustrate the potential to scale social impact and demonstrate the capacity for system change
Value collaboration and demonstrate ability to collaborate on work with other changemakers within their sector or in cross-sector relationships


Bridge builders from all sectors including but not limited to nonprofit and philanthropic organizations, for-profit social enterprises, community groups, social movements, research communities, and government/public sector leaders.
Applicants must work and live in Pittsburgh, Dallas, or Chicago.

Preference may be given to candidates who identify as underrepresented or otherwise marginalized, including but not limited to:

– Black, Indigenous, or other people of color
– People with a seen or unseen disability

The Fellowship is a two-year hybrid, virtual and in-person program that includes 10 three-hour virtual convenings and three in-person gatherings in 2022 and 2023. Please review the 2022-2023 program schedule. In addition, Bridging Fellows will be invited to attend Upswell events, including regional meetings, annual business meetings, and Upswell Summits.

The 2022-2023 Bridging Fellows Program Schedule:

April 12, 2022: Virtual Convening #1 (virtual program kickoff)

May 3, 2022: Virtual Convening #2

July 19, 2022: Virtual Convening #3

September 14, 2022: Virtual Convening #4

November 15, 2022: Upswell Summit (virtual)

December 13, 2022: Virtual Convening #5

To be determined: Learning Exchange #1 in Dallas (in person, travel required)

January to November 2023:

Virtual Convenings #6-10

Learning Exchange #2 (Chicago)

Learning Exchange #3 (Pittsburgh)

Upswell events 2023

Upswell Summit 2023

– Applications are due by 11:59 PM PT on March 7, 2022. Your completed application must be received by this date and time. No extensions will be granted.

– Submissions will be reviewed by a selection committee that includes staff from Independent Sector.

– Applicants will be notified of their selection status, and the 2022-2023 Bridging Fellows cohort will be announced, in March 2022.

Fellows will be expected to participate in ten (10) virtual convenings (via Zoom video conference) to be held between 1:00 – 5:00 PM ET, as well as three (3) in-person gatherings that will be held during the two-year period.

Outside of meeting times, Fellows can expect to spend approximately four to six hours per month on program-related activities during the Fellowship. Fellows are expected to participate in and complete all assignments and projects related to participation in the program.

Failure to participate in convenings without making prior arrangements with Independent Sector staff may result in a loss of Fellowship status. Independent Sector staff strive to maintain flexibility and understanding around balancing the pandemic’s ongoing impact on work/personal routines, such as shifting work demands, work environment, work-from-home, changes in caretaking responsibilities, and self-care. Communication will be key from all parties in order to balance personal needs and the integrity of cohort learning.

Upon acceptance, Fellows are required to sign and return a commitment form within two business days. The form outlines program participation expectations and involves supervisor approval.

Thanks to the generous support of Walmart, acceptance into the Fellowship includes all fees, materials, and supplies related to the leadership development curriculum. Fellows will also receive a stipend for participating in virtual convenings, as well as for travel and accommodation costs for in-person gatherings.

Fellows are responsible for arranging their schedule to meet time demands of virtual convenings and in-person gatherings. In a virtual world, your time is a major cost commitment to be proactively managed among your professional and personal duties.

Fellows will receive complimentary registration to Upswell 2022 and Upswell 2023.

Thanks to the generous support of Walmart, Fellows will receive a stipend for their participation in virtual convenings, as well as for travel and accommodation costs for in-person gatherings.

Bridging Fellows News

Alumni Fellows Network

A life and career-long network of all Fellows who have participated in any IS Fellowship, primarily driven by the NGen Fellows program.

Upswell Fellows

A year-long engagement with a group placed-based Fellows who participate in Upswell events and unpack learnings together.