community leaders nationwide
... begins with our education system. Lead For America’s focus on education rests upon the reality that meaningful civics education and engagement is critical to cultivating adept, informed, and intentional leaders.
Currently, our education initiatives — such as GovChallenge and Summer Fellowship — focus on building partnerships between leaders and public institutions to get talent working on challenging problems in local governments and to empower people to be agents of change.
"As a student, I appreciate Lead For America helping me connect with work I feel passionate about. They helped me cement my interests in law and government while also making an impact."
— Fatima Taj, Summer Fellow
"GovChallenge is a call for us to think creatively. It is refreshing to be challenged to think and engage my creative mental-muscle. It gave me the opportunity to take initiative to identify and offer a solution to a grand problem."
— Priscilla Heaton, GovChallenge
Priscilla Heaton, GovChallenge '19
“The challenge was enriching because I was able to work with some fantastic people and put forth a solution that was comprehensive, innovative, and forward-looking…Although we placed second in the competition, I feel closer to the community since working on this challenge, and I am grateful for the bonds I have forged with my colleagues.”
— Sean O'Brien, GovChallenge
LFA Chapter System & GovChallenge
The LFA Chapter system is dedicated to building stronger communities by activating student changemakers in the places where they live and study. These changemakers, Chapter Founders, are leaders who are committed to the community they live in and are passionate about leading their peers in initiatives that work to solve their community’s biggest challenges. While chapters align with LFA’s mission and earn accreditation by LFA, each chapter has the local autonomy and creativity to decide how best to serve the community beyond their campus gates.
Chapters can choose to pursue: community service initiatives; local community leader recognition ceremonies; community stakeholder listening tours and entrepreneurial projects to address identified challenges; conferences, speakers, and professional development events geared toward supporting local changemaking; and the GovChallenge. Chapters can be founded at the college, high school, or middle school level.
The GovChallenge is a case competition in which local governments turn their largest problems into real-world cases that students are asked to address. In the final round of the competition, teams of 1-4 students present their case solutions to local city councilors, mayors, and other community stakeholders who are actively involved in the issue. Panelists evaluate and decide on the winning case solution based on factors such as relevance to the community, feasibility of implementation, and potential positive impact. The winning team is awarded the opportunity to work directly with the government to implement their proposed solutions as GovChallenge Fellows. GovChallenge Fellows conduct research and further develop their solution over the three months following the competition. At the end of their Fellowship, the Fellows present their policy proposal to the local government leadership. If the proposal is approved, the Fellows have the opportunity to collaborate with the local government to implement their proposal
Lead For America places the country's most dynamic, diverse, and high-integrity college students in Summer Fellowships to reinvigorate our civic institutions and drive change in the communities nationwide that most need the help. Our second cohort of Summer Fellows began their internships in June of 2020.
We are specifically looking for students who have a demonstrated commitment to public service and who wish to return to, or remain in, a community to which they are already connected. We see this program as an opportunity for leaders to support critical work on a local level while assessing whether Lead For America can work with our partner organizations to place Fellows in impactful, growth-spurring environments in local government, non-profits, or civically-oriented small businesses.
In the immediate term, Fellows provide critical technical assistance to resource-strapped placement sites. Fellows will engage in projects addressing economic development, community health, disaster relief, education, and more. In the long term, Summer Fellows commit to a practice of convergent leadership and support their communities in building a bench of community + civic leaders around them.
Delanya Storey, Summer Fellow '19
"Lead For America provided me with the indispensable opportunity of serving my community. It had been a long standing goal of mine and I finally got the chance to contribute to the amazing work happening in my city. Local government is an undervalued source of life changing and fulfilling work. Through my experiences as a Summer Fellow, I truly learned the value of connecting with city government. "