Next Gen Fellows Program

The Next Gen Fellows Program is a 6-month training fellowship for dynamic leaders roughly 18–35 years old who are involved in all types of foundations as current or soon-to-be trustees or staff. The program is designed for deep learning and peer networking to prepare the next generation for leadership roles.

In this program, you will:

  • Be guided by experienced practitioners and field leaders.
  • Learn about best practices and emerging trends.
  • Try out new skills in a safe and encouraging environment.
  • Set a personal learning agenda to deepen your knowledge and fill your gaps.
  • Come away with an unmatched peer group—and expert mentor—for support, ideas, and guidance.

You’ll gain the competence and confidence to lead—in your foundation, in your community, and in your field—and you’ll return to your foundation ready to ask thoughtful questions, make meaningful contributions, and strengthen your giving.

Core Components

More than 50 hours of learning!

  • Breadth: Training Intensive, June 11–12, 2018, Washington, DC
    Together with your peers, learn from experts on topics such as governance and legal basics, investments, grantmaking strategies, effective and thoughtful site visits, managing change, and envisioning the next generation’s legacy. Plus, explore Washington, DC’s sights, visit exemplary local nonprofits, and connect with local Exponent Philanthropy members and field leaders during a special reception in your honor.
  • Depth: 2018 National Conference, September 28-30, 2018
    At the year’s premier conference for small-staffed philanthropy, attend sessions, workshops, and dynamic plenaries to explore a wide range of topics in philanthropy. Host a gathering for other Next Gen participants, meet program alums, and step into other conference leadership roles. Connect with the field’s leading thinkers and doers, and choose from dozens of sessions like Impact & Evaluation, Design Thinking, Catalyzing Philanthropy, and more
  • Individual focus: Personal learning agenda
    What do you still need to learn? What knowledge or skills will allow you to contribute confidently to your foundation? During the 2-day Training Intensive, identify your learning objectives and work with your mentor craft a plan to meet them through a variety of methods that match your learning style and needs (e.g., seminars, webinars, books, articles, informational interviews).
  • Expert guidance: Mentors and publications
    Fellows will be carefully paired with a mentor—either an experienced Exponent Philanthropy member or part of our knowledgeable staff—who will support your individualized learning during the fellowship, help you achieve the objectives of your personal learning agenda, and serve as a trusted resource long afterward. Receive Exponent Philanthropy’s top-selling publications, The Foundation Guidebook and The Trustee Handbook, our most comprehensive resources for foundation trustees and key staff.
  • Connections: Online community
    Tap into the Exponent Philanthropy community via our online Discussion List, a treasure trove of guidance and experience, with hundreds of active members ready to answer your questions. After the Training Intensive in June, you’ll also be invited to join a private online group where current and past Next Gen Fellows have an ongoing dialogue


    This program is facilitated by Kerry McHugh, a Next Gen Fellow alumna and Exponent Philanthropy board member.

    Kerry, a Next Gen Fellow alumna, is program officer and board member at The Helen J. Serini Foundation in Frederick, MD, named after her grandmother. She previously worked in marketing with a variety of government and nonprofit clients. Kerry is an avid reader and book reviewer, and serves as a literacy tutor for the Frederick Literacy Council. She is also membership co-chair for the Frederick Steeplechasers Running Club and, as of October 2017, an Exponent Philanthropy board member.

    Application Procedure

    Participation is by online application only, and space is limited to ensure a first-rate experience for all involved. The application deadline is April 6, 2018.

    Applications will be reviewed to ensure that participants meet age guidelines and are currently or soon-to-be trustees or staff in a foundation. As we fill the cohort, we will assess all applications to ensure a diverse range of personal backgrounds, experience, foundation types, and geography. We will also consider the fit between applicants’ learning objectives and program design.

    Program Fee: $2,495
    The program is only offered to Exponent Philanthropy members.

    Participants accepted to the program pay a program fee of $2,495 and must attend the in-person intensive in order to take part in this year’s cohort. Accepted fellows who cannot attend the in-person training are not eligible to be in the cohort; their registrations will be canceled. Canceled registrants are welcome to reapply the following year.

    By applying for this program, participants are agreeing to the Exponent Philanthropy Participant Guidelines. For accepted and paid applicants, we understand that situations may arise that prevent your participation in the cohort. However, cancellations (especially those close to the event date) can negatively impact the cost-effectiveness and quality of our programs. We, therefore, will not issue refunds for cancellations within 3 weeks of the start of the program; prior to that date, refunds are only approved under extreme circumstances when submitted in writing and will be subject to a $75 processing fee. Please submit all cancellations by e-mail to

    Next Gen Mentors Needed!
    Mentoring is an important component of the program, and we are looking for volunteers to serve as mentors for these future leaders. The commitment involves participation in a training webinar to share ideas for how to be great mentors, and then to connecting with your matched Next Gen Fellow at least monthly, July through December of this year. The key to being a successful mentor is acting as a thoughtful listener, good question-asker, and responsive sounding board. Mentoring is open to Exponent Philanthropy members only. Apply to be a mentor today.