Local leadership is more important than ever. But too often our communities' most precious resource––its young people––is told that success would require them leaving and never coming back. Today, far too many of our most outstanding leaders are moving to a select few cities and working in a select few industries, leaving the commitment to place and the call to public service, behind.
The Lead For America Fellowship program aims to change that, and to ensure that every American community has the moral, dynamic, locally rooted, and long-term committed leadership it needs to address its biggest challenges.
Through our Fellowship, LFA recruits, trains, and places outstanding leaders in communities across America to address critical local challenges while strengthening the civic fabric of their towns. We prioritize communities and states where many young people leave or forego careers in civic leadership.
What is the LFA Fellowship?
The Lead For America Fellowship is a launching pad for a lifelong commitment to public service in a place that Fellows call home. This begins with a one-year AmeriCorps Service term where Fellows are placed with a local organization (e.g. nonprofit, government, service-minded organization) to serve in a full-time, paid position addressing critical community challenges. Fellows can renew their fellowship for an additional one-year term, or receive support while pursuing the next step in their civic leadership journey.
Throughout the Fellowship, all Fellows receive leadership and community-building training from leading partners that have previously included the Harvard Kennedy School, Urban Rural Action, and the UNC School of Government. Additionally, Fellows conduct a community Listening Tour to better understand the local landscape of challenge and possibility. Fellows have the option to build on their listening tours by creating a project they lead, called a Community Venture, to address those challenges.
Altogether, Fellows build lifelong relationships with their cohort and mentors and join the hundreds of changemakers in the LFA nationwide network. At the conclusion of the fellowship, Fellows have access to LFA's graduate school scholarship partners and can receive support from LFA to continue their locally-rooted impact.
Two Fellowship Types
National Hometown Fellows
Lead For America's flagship program, the applicant-led process can be thought of as a "create your own" Fellowship opportunity. Candidates will play an important role in creating their project scope and connecting with a local host organization in their hometown or home state. Ideal candidates have a strong connection to the community they intend to serve, a deep passion for the type of change they want to create, and a proven track record of service.
Our list of pre-confirmed placements will be released on January 10th, 2022. The pre-confirmed fellowship opportunity connects candidates with existing placements in communities across the country. Placements will already have a specific project scope to address a set of challenges in that community. Ideal candidates have a deep connection to the state or region of their placement site, prior experience related to their project scope, and a clear passion for locally-rooted impact.
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Being rooted in place is critical for our national movement of creating strong and sustainable communities, and that is why Lead For America has created a state-based affiliate model across the nation. Affiliates bring together local governments, community and business leaders, and dedicated Fellows to saturate a state’s community institutions in service of a more cohesive, collaborative statewide infrastructure. Fellows who are members of their state's affiliate take part in the national training programs, including the Catalyst Institute, 1:1 mentorship, and retreats. Affiliate Fellows join and become members a growing community of local changemakers.
To see affiliate fellowship opportunities, visit the "Apply to the Fellowship" page.
Applicants must already be living in one of the following affiliate states. See below for the full list of our current state-based affiliates:
Communities across the United States are facing significant challenges: from COVID-19 and healthcare access, to broadband access and digital inclusion. The talent and leadership this moment requires is born into every community in the nation, and LFA Fellows have the opportunity to help address these nationwide challenges within their community by joining one of our challenge-based fellowships. As part of the national network, challenged-based Fellows will have access to premiere national training on community and economic development and field-related skills, alongside developing a network of homecomers from across the country.