American Express NGen Fellows Program

The application period is now closed. The 2019 American Express NGen Fellows will be announced in early May.

The American Express NGen Fellows program provides changemakers, age 40 and under, an exceptional opportunity to strengthen their leadership capacity and grow their personal and professional networks.

The NGen Fellows program advances Independent Sector’s mission to improve lives, heal our natural world, and strengthen democratic society by ensuring that a continued wellspring of next-generation changemakers rises to meet today’s toughest challenges.

Becoming an American Express NGen Fellow will help you develop your leadership capacity. Specifically, the NGen Fellows program centers on achieving six core results that emphasize personal and professional growth. NGen Fellows will also join a supportive community of next-generation changemakers that will help them gain access to the people, knowledge, and networks necessary to scale their change work.

Learn more about what 2018 NGen Fellows have to say about their experience and read the frequently asked questions below.


What is the NGen Fellows program?

The 2019 NGen Fellows program selects 12 individuals to participate in a nine-month leadership development program.

The program includes three in-person gatherings, monthly virtual convenings, workshops, assigned readings, facilitated discussions, peer coaching, collaborative group work, and practice assignments.

The NGen Fellows program centers on achieving six core results that emphasize personal and professional growth. NGen Fellows will also join a supportive community of next-generation changemakers that will help them gain access to the people, knowledge, networks, and resources necessary to scale their change work.

What are the six core results that 2019 NGen Fellows will achieve?

The NGen Fellows program centers on six results designed to enhance the leadership capacity and personal and professional network of changemakers.

At the end of the Fellows experience changemakers will be able to:

  1. Articulate self-awareness of your purpose, influences, values, leadership styles, assets, and support needs as leaders, and use that awareness to engage and collaborate effectively;
  2. Understand how to use a results-based, data-driven practice to define impact, develop strategies, measure performance, and be accountable for results;
  3. Develop an analysis of system change levers, such as public policy, needed to achieve one’s results, and tools and tactics for moving those levers;
  4. Develop a practice of racial equity to analyze and address disparities in terms of the who, what, and how of your social change work;
  5. Build adaptive leadership skills to engage in difficult conversations; solve sticky, complex problems with others; and manage change;
  6. Develop a network of peers who support your leadership and results, and gain access to influential leaders who can support your development and impact.

How do I apply?

First, self-nominate or nominate someone you know.

Second, submit your completed application according to the instructions sent to you via email. Submit your application by the deadline on March 11, 2019 – 7:00 AM PT.

Note: Upon submitting a nomination form, the nominee will receive an email detailing the application process along with a link to the application form.

We encourage applicants from all backgrounds to apply for this fellowship.

If you are a qualified applicant with any access needs, we are available to provide reasonable accommodations to complete the application, please contact our team at

What is the application timeline?

The nomination and application deadline is 7:00 AM Pacific Standard Time (PT) on March 11, 2019. 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 (IS), IS partner and member organizations and NGen Fellows alumni.

Applicants will be notified of their selection status by April 30, 2019.

The 2019 NGen Fellows cohort will be announced in May 2019.

What is the selection criteria?

We are seeking a highly talented, diverse, cross-sector cohort of emerging changemakers working to address critical societal challenges who are interested in expanding their leadership capacity.

We encourage changemakers from all backgrounds to apply, including but not limited to: nonprofit and philanthropic organizations, for-profit social enterprises, and the government/public sector.

As of application open – February 6, 2019 – applicants must be age 40 and under, residing in the US.

Fellows should be mission-driven changemakers who:

  • Demonstrate passion and leadership in addressing society’s toughest challenges
  • Illustrate the potential to scale social impact and demonstrate the capacity for system change
  • Show self-awareness, vulnerability, and an openness to learning
  • Value diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • Value partnership and collaboration
  • Enjoy connecting and working with other next-generation changemakers

What is the time commitment as a fellow?

The 2019 NGen Fellows program is a nine-month, non-residential fellowship taking place from May – December 2019.

The program includes three in-person gatherings and monthly virtual convenings, please review the 2019 program schedule.

Reading, assignments, and collaborative group work will require a time commitment in-between convenings. Fellows should expect a commitment of 4-6 hours between convenings. Fellows are expected to complete pre-work in a timely manner and begin convenings ready to fully engage.

Full participation in all convenings is required to maintain your status as a fellow.

What is the schedule for the 2019 program?

Three in-person convenings:

  • May 29-31 | Washington, DC
  • August 19-21 | Chicago, IL
  • November 13-15 | Chicago, IL (Upswell)

A virtual orientation and kick off (via videoconference) will take place on:

  • May 2 | 12-1:30 PM ET

Five virtual convenings (via videoconference) will take place from 2-4 PM ET on these dates:

  • June 17
  • July 16
  • September 25
  • October 22
  • December 16

Attendance is required for all convenings unless special accommodations are made in advance.

Fellows are required to sign a commitment form. If you have concerns about a specific date conflict you will need to communicate this when accepting the fellowship.

Failure to participate in convenings may result in losing your fellowship status.

Is there a cost associated with participation in the program?

Thanks to the generous support of American Express, acceptance into the Fellowship includes all fees, materials, and supplies related to the leadership development curriculum.

Fellows also receive complimentary registration and hotel accommodations for Upswell, a three-day gathering of changemakers from November 13-15, 2019 in Chicago, IL.

Fellows are responsible for the following travel and accommodation expenses:

  • Travel and two nights hotel accommodations for each of the in-person cohort meetings:
    • May 29-31, 2019 in Washington, DC
    • August 19-21, 2019 in Chicago, IL
  • Travel to Upswell, November 13-15, 2019 in Chicago, IL

Please note that nominal expense reimbursements up to $600 are available on an as-needed basis to help offset travel costs for the May and August in-person convenings.

There are no stipends paid to fellows. Nominal expense reimbursements are available to offset travel costs as needed.


What 2018 NGen Fellows Are Saying:
“My NGen experience has been truly life changing. I have built a national network of lifelong friends. Our cohort has been challenged by one another, our facilitator, and IS staff to disrupt the status quo and build systems of change. As a result, I show up for the community I serve in a much more intentional and dynamic way.” 

“The NGen Fellows program filled a gap for me and other mid-career professionals like myself, by designing an experience that leveraged our blossoming talent, deepening our capacity to lead change, and expanding our network by connecting us with other emerging nonprofit leaders across the country. I’ve changed both professionally and personally as a result of the NGen Fellows. The lessons I learned through the program have impacted the way I support communities, the way I approach my work, and even in the way I perceive success.

“The NGen experience provided a whole new framework of leadership that has been transformative in how I see myself as a change agent in our society. The program helped articulate a clear vision for leadership, grounded in equity, with tangible skill development that has positively affected how I show up at work and lead our public policy work. I’m so immensely grateful to have an enriching and rewarding experience to develop close friendships with my cohort.”

“The NGen Fellows experience was truly life changing. Walking into an experience that cultivated my leadership skills, gave me a place to be my authentic self, and allowed me to formulate relationships with peers from across the country is something that is a once in a lifetime opportunity. From this experience, I have challenged myself to become a better leader in my work and my community.”

“The NGen Fellowship was life-defining. In a 9-month whirlwind, I was able to explore leadership, racial equity, and systems change in a way I had not done so before. It catapulted me into a personal transformation process that was imperative to my career and my community at that precise moment. It’s an experience I whole-heartily recommend for any social change leader out there seeking purpose.”

“The NGen Fellows experience taught me so much about myself. I have really grown as a leader and the experience has instilled a sense of confidence that I did not have before. I now know my role and understand how to bring meaningful change to Indian Country.

“The NGen Fellowship gave me the space to be reflective about who I am and the work I do and want to do. Without it, I likely would still be an accomplished nonprofit professional, but because of it, I am a more purposed, intentional, and confident person and leader.”

Supported by

2018 Amex Leadership Academy Logo

Projects from Previous Program Years

2018: NGen Fellows / Upswell LA

Our 2018 American Express NGen Fellows program cohort had the opportunity to lead a workshop discussion about retaining next generation leaders of color at Upswell LA on November 14. Check back soon for more information and materials that came out of that discussion and the cohort's nine-month fellowship.

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2017: NGen Speaks

NGen Speaks, the 2017 American Express NGen Fellows' project, is a podcast series featuring emerging nonprofit leaders grappling with complex, sometimes controversial issues. Each leader brings an authentic voice to the conversation, based on personal views and lived experience.

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2016: Gender Equity in the Charitable Sector

As part of their collaborative project, the 2016 American Express NGen Fellows wrote Gender Equity in the Charitable Sector, a guide designed to be used to understand the issue of gender equity in the charitable sector, reflect on what gender equity means for the future of the sector, and act from a personal, organizational, and sector-wide level to support and promote gender equity.

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2015: The Necessary Challenge

The 2015 American Express NGen Fellows cohort explores the difference between the belief in transformative innovation both within and through the social sector, and the reality of attempting to create and maintain a culture of innovation in the (mostly) nonprofit space in The Necessary Challenge. The report includes findings and recommendations on how the social sector might mitigate barriers and encourage stronger, more sustainable innovation within the sector.

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2014: Strategies for Talent Diversity

The 2014 American Express NGen Fellows partnered with the National Audubon Society to refine and improve the organization’s diversity and inclusion goals of attracting, retaining and advancing leaders of color. They documented the effort in a case study, Strategies for Talent Diversity

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