Rising Leaders Fellowship

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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 outdoor/environmental movement, efforts need to be supported that will attract and retain people of color and additional communities who have had historic and systemic barriers to accessing the outdoors. To this end, we offer the Rising Leaders Fellowship.

What is the Rising Leaders Fellowship?

The Rising Leaders Fellowship supports the continued career development of individuals in entry- to mid-level positions within the outdoor/environmental/ environmental justice sector. Specifically, Justice Outside seeks to engage Black, Indigenous, and People of Color and allies who are committed to effecting culture change within their organizations, in order to ensure that communities of color are authentically seen, valued, and connected to the outdoors. 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.

The 2024 Rising Leaders Fellowship will host three cohorts: one in-person in Los Angeles and two virtual cohorts. As such, applications will be open to participants throughout the U.S. See below for specific dates and times.

Program Overview

Three cohorts of up to 20 fellows each will be selected to participate in an eight-session series that runs monthly from April through November 2024. Participants commit to participating in all components outlined below. The Fellowship will culminate with participant-led presentations on the benefits of increased racial equity, justice, and cultural relevancy to connecting communities to the outdoors. A schedule with specific dates and times for each session is provided below.

Capacity Building Sessions:  The monthly sessions will consist of capacity-building modules, peer coaching, and community building. These sessions will focus on personal and organizational development. Topics may include:

  • 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.
  • 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 community narratives are being communicated; explore how deficit-minded fundraising can harm communities.
  • Healing Justice – Explore the concept of healing justice-informed approaches to self and collective care, and identify opportunities to increase inclusion and cultural relevancy in programming.
  • Liberated Work Spaces- Explore the concept of utilizing liberated principles to shape the workplace, and outdoor and environmental industry.   

*Subject to Change

In-Person retreat: All participants, virtual and in-person will be invited to participate in an in-person retreat taking place in the Los Angeles area. Taking place May 2024, this will be an opportunity for all Rising Leader Fellows to meet, build community, and learn! 

Impact Project: Fellows will be asked to identify opportunities for increased cultural relevancy within their organization (or, if not with an org, another initiative) and develop a plan of action that addresses one or more identified opportunities. Inside smaller groups, fellows will serve as peer coaches to one another through this process and will present on their efforts and findings at the culminating session.

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.

Eligibility Criteria

  • Applicant is doing work within the outdoor/environmental/ environmental justice sector.
  • Applicant holds an entry- or mid-level position within their organization, if applicable (this may include direct program staff, program leads, program coordinators, or middle management).
  • Applicant is committed to effecting change within their organization, if applicable, 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 can commit to full program participation, including attendance of all in-person sessions and peer check-ins.

2024 Program Schedule

In-person Orientation: Thursday, April 11
Virtual Orientations: Thursday, April 18

In-Person Retreat for ALL Participants: Friday-Sunday, May 17-19

In-Person June Capacity Building Session: Thursday, June 13
Virtual June Capacity Building Session: Thursday, June 20

In-Person July Capacity Building Session: Thursday, July 11
Virtual July Capacity Building Session: Thursday, July 18

In-Person August Capacity Building Session: Thursday, August 8
Virtual August Capacity Building Session: Thursday, August 15

In-Person September Capacity Building Session: Thursday, September 12
Virtual September Capacity Building Session: Thursday, September 19

In-Person October Capacity Building Session: Thursday, October 10
Virtual October Capacity Building Session: Thursday, October 17

In-Person Graduation: Thursday, November 7
Virtual Graduation: Thursday, November 14


  •  In-Person Cohort, 10 AM to 2:30 PM (Pacific Standard Time) Lunch provided. 
  • Virtual (EAST), 11:30-2:30 pm (Eastern Standard Time) 
  • Virtual (WEST), 12:30-4:00 pm (Pacific Standard Time)

Session Location: In-person sessions will take place in the Los Angeles, CA area. We will follow county guidelines for covid-safe gathering and will remain open to pivots as needed. Virtual sessions will take place online through Zoom.

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

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

  • 7  online sessions (3-hour sessions) or 7 in-person sessions (4.5-hour sessions including lunch)
  • 1 in-person weekend retreat
  • 4 to 8 Impact Project peer check-ins (participant-established timeframes)
  • 1 to 3 individual coaching sessions (3 hours)

*Participants must participate in 80% of the program in order to receive a certificate of completion (missing no more than 2 monthly sessions).

Application Process: All applicants must fill out the application form. If your employer is supporting your participation in the program (i.e. you can attend sessions during work hours, reference organizational documents for learning modules), we ask that a supervisor or appropriate organizational representative fill out the employer form.

All applications must be submitted online or to dylan@justiceoutside.org by end of day, March 1, 2024.

Rollout Timeline:

January 17th- March 1st: Applications Window
January 29th-March 1st: Interview Window
March 8th: Acceptance Sent Out

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

Employer Form:

  • What if my employer is not supporting my application?
    • You can still apply, as long as you are able to fully participate in the program (i.e. attend all session dates)


For more information about the program or questions regarding the application or employer form, please contact Dylan Kiyo Kennedy at dylan@justiceoutside.org