The Obama Foundation announced yesterday that applications for the next class of Obama Foundation Fellows are now open.
The foundation says interested applicants should be “deeply embedded in their respective communities, working together to build not just immediate solutions but long-term change.”
When the Obama Foundation solicited for applicants last year, they say they were ‘blown away’ by over 20,000 applicants.
On the “What We Look For in a Fellow” website page, they state, “When we first launched the Fellowship last year, we were blown away by the response we got from people around the world who were helping create transformational change in their communities. Choosing just 20 Fellows from an application pool of 20,000 (!) inspiring candidates was certainly challenging—but as many of you begin to think about your application to this year’s Fellowship, we wanted to provide some insight as to how we made our selections.”
The site mentions three of the fellows from last year’s inaugural class as examples including Keith Watley, a criminal justice reform attorney from Oakland who started the UnCommon Law organization to advocate for incarcerated people; Ashley Hanson, an artist and theater director who started PlaceBase Productions to help rural artists tell their stories in original, community-driven productions; and Nedgine Paul Deroly, an educator from Haiti who founded Anseye Pou Ayiti, an organization that has recruited and trained 110 teachers and recent school graduates to teach more than 5,000 students across 50 Haitian schools.
The Obama Foundation also lists five criteria they follow in selecting applicants which they list as follows:
They were civic innovators*. They didn’t just tackle a problem they wanted to solve, they helped build a community—of people involved and impacted by an issue—to help overcome a systemic challenge.*
They were at the tipping point in their work*. They had already demonstrated direct and meaningful impact in their communities and gained recognition among their peers for their contributions. But they could take their approaches even further with the right attention, support and network.*
They were discipline diverse*. They didn’t have the same cookie-cutter backgrounds; they were artists, activists, educators, entrepreneurs—people from all walks of life, employing different methods to improve their communities.*
They were talented, but not connected*. They hadn’t already benefited from prestigious opportunities or global attention. They had distinct voices, just waiting to ring out.*
And finally, they were good humans*. They were authentic, ethical, inclusive, collaborative—people motivated by the powerful desire to help others.*