American Express NGen Fellows Program

The 2021 Nomination & Application Period is Now Closed

The American Express NGen Fellows program, part of the American Express Leadership Academy, offers a transformative opportunity for changemakers, age 40 and under, to strengthen their leadership capacity, hone their change-making skills, and build connections with some of the social sector’s most influential leaders. Every year the NGen Fellows program selects 12 individuals to participate in a nine-month leadership development program.

The program centers on six core results and by the end of the Fellows experience changemakers will have furthered their practice of adaptive leadership, self-awareness, racial equity, system change, developing a network of peers, and using a results based frame.

These results serve as a foundational framing to accelerate peer learning among cohort members. This isn’t your typical nonprofit leadership bootcamp with a ton of technical knowledge consumption, instead you will work with your peers through activities and discussions to deepen one another’s practice of core program results.

In 2021, the program will be delivered in a fully virtual format without in person meetings due to COVID-19. Please review the detailed FAQ section to learn more about program dates and selection criteria. We also encourage you to review information on the 2020 NGen Fellows cohort and their Upswell presentation.

Six Core Results

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

Develop a practice of racial equity to analyze and address disparities in terms of the who, what, and how of your social change work

Build adaptive leadership skills to engage difficult conversations; solve sticky, complex problems with others; and manage change

Understand how to use a results based, data-driven practice to define impact, develop strategies, measure performance, and be accountable for results

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

Develop a network of peers who support your leadership and results, and gain access to influential leaders who can support your development and impact

The American Express NGen Fellows Program is supported by

2018 Amex Leadership Academy Logo

Frequently Asked Questions

The 2021 NGen Fellows program selects 12 individuals to participate in a nine-month leadership development program. The program will be fully virtual and includes monthly convenings with your cohort, assigned readings, facilitated discussions, collaborative group work, and practice assignments.

NGen Fellows must attend all monthly convenings that will take place via Zoom video conferencing.

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.

These six program results serve as a foundational framing to accelerate peer learning among cohort members. This isn’t your typical nonprofit leadership bootcamp with a ton of technical knowledge consumption, instead you will work with your peers through activities and discussions to deepen one another’s practice of core program results.

Continuing in 2021, a cohort of applicants will be selected for a less time intensive program extension which is separate from our traditional American Express NGen Fellows leadership academy program. The NGen Online Learning Cohort experience involves completing a virtual course centered on the self-awareness program result. Cohort members will also attend monthly convenings to connect with each other between June – December, 2021. Please mark if you are interested in being a part of this separate program extension when submitting your application.

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 further their ability 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. Develop a practice of racial equity to analyze and address disparities in terms of the who, what, and how of your social change work;
  3. Build adaptive leadership skills to engage difficult conversations; solve sticky, complex problems with others; and manage change;
  4. Understand how to use a results based, data-driven practice to define impact, develop strategies, measure performance, and be accountable for results;
  5. 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;
  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.

First, self-nominate or nominate someone you know.

Second, the nominee will receive an auto-generated email with instructions. It is important that the nominator confirms that the nominee has received this email. Auto-generated emails are often blocked by spam filters. If you do not receive the email automatically, kindly resubmit the nomination form.

Submit the application by the deadline on March 21, 2021 by midnight PT.

Accessibility note: If you are a qualified applicant with any access needs, we are available to provide accommodations to complete the application, please contact our team at ngenfellows@independentsector.org.

The nomination and application deadline is midnight (11:59 PM) Pacific Time on March 24, 2021. 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 and the 2021 NGen Fellows cohort will be announced in May, 2021.

We are looking for highly talented, diverse changemakers across sectors who are working to address critical societal challenges, but also want to expand their leadership capacity personally and professionally through a cohort driven fellowship experience.

Successful candidates should meet the following selection criteria through their application:

  • 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 race equity in personal and professional conversations
  • Illustrate the potential to scale social impact and demonstrate the capacity for system change
  • Value collaboration and demonstrate their ability to collaborate on work with other changemakers within their sector or in cross-sector relationships

Eligibility:

  • changemakers come from all sectors including but not limited to: nonprofit and philanthropic organizations, for-profit social enterprises, and government/public sector leaders
  • as of application open – February 2021 – applicants must be age 40 and under, residing in the United States to be eligible for the program

Preference may be given to candidates who:

  • are current Independent Sector members
  • who identify as underrepresented or otherwise marginalized, including but not limited to:
    • Black, Indigenous, persons of color
    • LGBTQ+
    • persons with a seen or unseen disability

The 2021 NGen Fellows program is a nine-month, non-residential fellowship.

The program includes ten virtual convenings, please review the 2021 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 per month outside of meeting times. Fellows are expected to complete pre-work in a timely manner and begin convenings ready to fully engage.

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.

Ten virtual convenings (via Zoom video conference) will take place between 11am-6pm eastern time on these dates:

    • May 17
    • May 26-27
    • June 21-23
    • July 26
    • August 26-27
    • September 24
    • October 20-22 – Upswell 2021
    • October 29
    • November 19
    • December 16-17

Optional and encouraged are our 2021 Upswell Pop-Ups taking place between 2pm-6pm eastern time on these dates:

    • March 30
    • May 11
    • July 27
    • September 14

Upswell 2021 is an immersive experience that is separate from the ten fellow virtual convenings and will take place on a different virtual platform. The registration fee is covered for fellows.

Outside of meeting time, fellows can expect to spend approximately 4-6 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 arrangements with Independent Sector staff may result in a loss of fellowship status. Independent Sector staff will strive to maintain flexibility and understanding around balancing the ongoing pandemic impact to work/personal routines such as shifting work demand, work environment, work-at-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 American Express, acceptance into the Fellowship includes all fees, materials, and supplies related to the leadership development curriculum.

There are no stipends paid to fellows.

Fellows are responsible for arranging their schedule to meet time demands of virtual convenings. 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 2021, a virtual three-day gathering of changemakers from October 20-22, 2021.

Reflections from Fellows Alumni

Projects from Previous Program Years

2020: NGen Fellows / Skinfolk and Kinfolk

Learn More

2019: NGen Fellows / Upswell Chicago

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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.

Learn More

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

Learn More