Rising Leaders Fellowship

“Rising Leaders Fellowship kept me at my job. I was thinking about leaving because I didn’t feel like anyone else at my workplace was interested in cultural relevancy, and was feeling frustrated and disillusioned. RLF gave me the community and feeling of support I needed to make the choice to stay at my workplace, and the tools to talk to management productively to make changes in our staff trainings and the way we relate to our participants. RLF also gave me a community of like-minded people doing inspiring work, which was a fountain of inspiration and good ideas to take to my work and workplace.”

What is the Rising Leaders Fellowship?

Now in its seventh year, the Rising Leaders Fellowship supports the professional development of individuals in entry- to mid-level positions within the environmental sector. Specifically, Justice Outside targets individuals who are enthusiastic about connecting communities to the outdoors in culturally relevant and inclusive ways by effecting culture change within their organizations. The Rising Leaders Fellowship builds professional capacity while creating a supportive network of like-minded leaders through a project-based cohort series that focuses on social justice and racial equity in the outdoors.

Program Overview

A cohort of up to 20 fellows will be selected to participate in an eight-session series that runs monthly from April through November 2021. Participants are expected to participate in all three of the components outlined below. The Fellowship will culminate with participant-led presentations on the benefits of increased equity and cultural relevancy to connecting communities to the outdoors. A schedule with specific dates and times of each session is provided below.

In-person sessions: The in-person sessions will consist of capacity-building modules, peer coaching, and community building. These sessions will focus on personal and organizational development. Participants will be encouraged to bring internal documents for learning purposes. A list of topics and the required documents can be found below.

Increased Equity and Relevancy Project: This year, fellows will collaborate on a learning project centered on participatory grantmaking. Collectively, the cohort will develop the framework for a new grantmaking program to be utilized in real time, and will ultimately decide which organizations are awarded a two-year grant. The project will allow fellows to gain a greater understanding of authentic relationship-building between the philanthropic sector and grantees, and provide insights into how philanthropic organizations shift their resources, language, and culture to better reflect and support organizations centering racial equity in the environmental field.

Individual Coaching: Each participant will have the opportunity to receive up to three hours of individual coaching. The purpose of coaching is to explore areas of personal and/or professional development in a supportive environment.

Topics & Objectives

  • Social Justice – Explore related concepts and practices to move toward a just society; examine the historical context of exclusion in the United States and how this impacts communities.
  • Power & Privilege – Examine power and privilege dynamics and the impact these can have on communities; explore opportunities to leverage power and privilege.
  • Intentional Communication – Develop effective and intentional communication strategies for authentic relationship building between staff and program participants.
  • Strategic Planning – Analyze organizations’ strategic plans and if/how equity and inclusion are incorporated into the plan; explore opportunities to ground strategic plans in racial equity.
  • Youth Empowerment – Explore the concept of trauma-informed youth development and identify opportunities to increase cultural relevancy in youth programming.
  • Curriculum Development – Analyze curriculum for implicit bias and explore avenues to incorporate community voice in curriculum and programs.
  • Fund Development – Examine the ways in which youth narrative is being communicated; explore how deficit-minded fundraising can harm youth and their communities.

Why Does Justice Outside Offer the Rising Leaders Fellowship?

Justice Outside advances racial justice and equity in the outdoor and environmental movement. We shift resources to, build power with, and center the voices and leadership of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color because the health of current and future generations demands it. We recognize that within the environmental movement, efforts need to be supported that will attract and retain people of color and other communities who have had historic and systemic barriers to accessing the outdoors. To this end, we deliver the Rising Leaders Fellowship. 

To learn more about the impact the Rising Leaders Fellowship is having on the outdoor field, read our recent evaluation report, produced by Informing Change.