Ford Foundation commits $50M to Global Fellows Network that will tackle inequality worldwide

June 2, 2020

The Ford Foundation has announced the launch of a ten-year Global Fellowship program, dedicated to identifying, connecting, and supporting the next generation of social justice leaders—who will devise and advance innovative solutions to end inequality in communities most affected around the globe.

Even before the alleged murder of George Floyd by Police Officer Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis—videotaped by a bystander and viewed by millions of Americans and foreign nationals—and the immediate coalescence of “Black Lives Matter” demonstrators in urban centers nationwide; the foundation notes, the COVID-19 pandemic had laid bare “the crisis of inequality and created new urgency to fix it.”

Over the next decade, the program will make a $50 million investment in a robust network of 240 global fellows. In a press release, the foundation describes the inaugural cohort of fellows as” …  24 promising global leaders who have demonstrated meaningful impact in their communities and are well-positioned to benefit from individualized global learning and leadership support.”

Indeed, yhe first group of Ford Global Fellows represents a broad range of backgrounds, fields, and approaches to addressing inequality—with areas of focus that range from restoring voting rights for formerly incarcerated people, to advancing LGBTQ+ rights, to increasing political and economic power of people with disabilities, and more.

Many are from directly impacted communities and emerged as leaders drawing from their own lived experience with the challenges of inequality, the foundation says. The cohort draws from four regions: Brazil, the United States, East Africa, and the Middle East and North Africa.

The Ford Global Fellowship program will be led by Adria Goodson, a recognized leader with a proven track record in the design and stewardship of fellowship programs. From 2005 to 2015, she was the founding director of Hunt Alternatives’ Prime Movers fellowship program, a program that supports social movement leaders in the United States. She has a PhD from Boston College in Sociology, specializing in social movement theory, public policy, and philanthropy; and before coming to Ford, was the chief program officer for the Pahara Institute, a nationally recognized non-profit that supports leaders reimagining public education.

“This fellowship will support visionaries in the fight against social, political, and economic inequality with the proven power of group learning,” said Ford Global Fellowship Program Director Adria Goodson. “These individuals lead unique efforts to create systemic change in their communities, but many of them have also taken action to immediately assist vulnerable communities hit hard by COVID-19. This group of leaders deserves immense credit, recognition, and support for their trailblazing work, and I look forward to working with each of them to assess and tackle unique challenges in their regions.”

The program curriculum, which focuses simultaneously on individualized and group learning, is being created in partnership with the Institute of International Education. The 24 Ford Global Fellows begin participation this week, with a multi-day virtual convening to launch the program.

Additional convenings will take place, either virtually or in various regions if safe and appropriate, over the course of the 18-month program. Each fellow will receive funding and resources to develop and pursue an Individualized Learning Plan to advance their own leadership development. They also each will receive a no-strings-attached $25,000 stipend.

In the coming years, future cohorts will be selected from all regions of the world, including seven additional regions where the Ford Foundation has a presence, including Mexico and Central America; the Andean region; West Africa; Southern Africa; India, Sri Lanka and Nepal; Indonesia; and China.

To learn more about the first cohort of Ford Global Fellows, please visit this link.

Research contact: @FordFoundation

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