Rising Leaders Fellowship 2021

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.

We are no longer accepting applications for the 2021 Rising Leaders Fellowship. Please join our email list to receive updates about the 2022 Rising Leaders Fellowship when we open applications for it. 

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.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, 2021’s Rising Leaders Fellowship will take place entirely online. As such, applications will be open to participants throughout the U.S., not just in Northern California. Thanks to generous support from the Applied Materials Foundation, we will prioritize participants from the South Bay area of California for this year’s cohort.

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 cultural relevancy to connecting communities to the outdoors. A schedule with specific dates and times of each session is provided below.

Monthly virtual sessions: The monthly virtual 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 – Examine effective and intentional communication strategies for authentic relationship building between staff and program participants.
  • Strategic Planning – Analyze organizations’ strategic plans and if/how racial equity and inclusion are incorporated into the plan; explore opportunities to ground strategic plans in racial equity.
  • Youth Development – 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.

Eligibility Criteria

  • Applicant is doing work within the environmental sector.
  • Applicant holds an entry- or mid-level position within their organization (this may include direct program staff, program leads, program coordinators, or middle management).
  • Applicant is committed to effecting change within their organization and the outdoor field at large, and to promoting cultural relevancy as a framework for increased equity and inclusion within the outdoor field.
  • Applicant is committed to being fully present at each session, and to their own personal and professional growth.
  • Applicant has the approval of their organization’s Executive Director and/or direct supervisor to participate in the program in its entirety.
  • Applicant can commit to full program participation, including attendance of all in-person sessions and peer check-ins.

Program Schedule

Session 1: Thursday, April 15, 2021

Session 2: Thursday, May 20, 2021

Session 3: Thursday, June 17, 2021

Session 4: Thursday, July 15, 2021

Session 5: Thursday, August 19, 2021

Session 6: Thursday, September 16, 2021

Session 7: Thursday, October 21, 2021

Session 8: Thursday, November 18, 2021

Time: 8 AM to 12 Noon (Pacific Standard Time)

Session Location: All sessions will take place online through Zoom.

Individual Coaching: Meeting dates and times will be scheduled between coach and participant.

Time Commitment: The total time estimated for participation includes the following:

  • 8  online sessions (4-hour sessions)
  • 4 to 8 peer check-ins (participant-established timeframes)
  • 1 to 3 individual coaching session (3 hours)

Application Process: All applicants must fill out the application form AND have their supervisor (if applicable) fill out the sponsor form.

Application Priority Deadline: All applications must be submitted online or to operations@justiceoutside.org by end of day, Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Application Final Deadline: End of day, Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Interviews: March 10 – March 30, 2021

Selection Announcement: April 2, 2021

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

Am I still eligible to apply if:

  • I’m passionate about this work, but currently in transition between organizations?
    • Yes, please include this information in your application.
  • I identify as white, not as a person of color, nor as someone who has experienced historic barriers?
    • Yes, we encourage everyone to apply regardless of how they identify. We do, however, prioritize the participation of professionals of color. Here’s why.
  • I’m currently working at more than one organization, or working at an organization part time?
    • Yes, please include this information in your application.
  • I know that I’ll have at least one date conflict?
    • Yes, if you are invited to interview, please let the program team know the date.
  • I’m unable to obtain one or more of the required documents from my organization?
    • Yes, you are still eligible to apply.

Priority Deadline:

  • What does it mean?
    • Applications submitted by the priority deadline will be invited for an interview and guaranteed a spot in the cohort, should their application and interview be successful.
  • What happens if I don’t submit until after March 10th?
    • Your application will be considered eligible for review, but will not be considered a priority application.

For more information about the program or questions regarding the application or sponsor form, please contact Sierra Mathias at operations@justiceoutside.org