American Express NGen Fellows Program

The Nomination & Application Period is Now Closed

The biggest opportunity of your career might only be an application away.

We’re looking for 12 exceptional next-generation changemakers who are ready to rise to meet today’s toughest challenges. The American Express NGen Fellows program, a program 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.

Check back in May 2019 for information on the 2020 cohort.
Details | Testimonials


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.

– Kenya Collins, 2018 Alum

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.

– Seyron Foo, 2018 Alum

The NGen Fellows Program filled this 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.

– Terri Seay Bryant, 2018 Alum

NGen Fellows Program Details

What is the NGen Fellows program?

The 2020 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, assigned readings, facilitated discussions, collaborative group work, and practice assignments.

NGen Fellows must attend three in-person convenings that will take place in Washington, DC and Pittsburgh, PA. Fellows are responsible for covering their travel costs.

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.

New in 2020, separate from the traditional fellows program a small cohort of hybrid participants will be selected to pioneer a unique online peer learning experience. Please mark if you are interested in being a part of this program extension when submitting your application.

What are the core program results?

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 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, the nominee receives an auto-generated email with instructions. It is important that the nominator confirms that the nominee has received this email as it might be 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 15, 2020 by midnight PT.

Accessibility note: 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 midnight (11:59 PM) Pacific Time on March 15, 2020. 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 May 5, 2020.

The 2020 NGen Fellows cohort will be announced in May, 2020.

What are the selection criteria?

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 and grow personally and professionally.

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. 

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
  •       Exhibit a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion
  •       Value partnership and collaboration
  •       Enjoy connecting and working with other next generation changemakers

As of application open – February 2020 – applicants must be age 40 and under, residing in the United States to be eligible for the program.

What is the time commitment as a fellow?

The 2020 NGen Fellows program is a nine-month, non-residential fellowship taking place from April – December 2020.

The program includes three in-person gatherings and monthly virtual convenings, please review the 2020 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.

Upon acceptance, fellows are required to sign and return a commitment form within two business days. Active participation is required to maintain your status as a fellow.

What is the schedule for the 2020 program?

Three in-person convenings:

  •       June 1-2 | Washington, DC
  •       July 27-29 | Washington, DC
  •       October 14-16 | Pittsburgh, PA (Upswell)

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

  •       May 5
  •       July 9
  •       August 25
  •       September 15
  •       November 17
  •       December 16

Upon acceptance, fellows are required to sign and return a commitment form within two business days.

Attendance is required for all convenings unless special accommodations are made in advance. If there are concerns about a specific date or other conflict this must be communicated when accepting the fellowship and the information provided upon signing your commitment form.

Failure to participate in convenings may result in being removed from the program.

What is the cost commitment as a fellow?

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 October 14-16, 2020 in Pittsburgh, IL.

Fellows are responsible for the following travel expenses including meals and any other incidental costs. Travel to each of the three in-person cohort meetings will be your responsibility:

  •       June 1-2 | Washington, DC
  •       July 27-29 | Washington, DC
  •       October 14-16 | Pittsburgh, PA (Upswell)

There are no stipends paid to fellows.

If cost is a barrier to participation, we may be able to provide nominal travel support which must be confirmed upon signing your acceptance form.

Supported by

2018 Amex Leadership Academy Logo

Projects from Previous Program Years

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.

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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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