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 12–13, 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

    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.

    Application Fee: $75
    Payment via credit card or check is due at the time your application is submitted. This fee will be not be refunded regardless of acceptance into the program.

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


    "The program is unique because it combines structured group learning experiences, one-on-one learning with a knowledgeable mentor, and ample opportunities to reach outside your comfort zone to take your personal development to the next level. A great combination!" — Renee Steffen, Grants and Office Manager Sisters of St. Joseph Charitable Fund

    “I gained so many great insights into philanthropy through [the] Next Gen programs. They have made me a better funder, and I’ve been able to bring many of the tools I've gained to our entire board.” —Mark Strode, Trustee, “The Woods” Family Foundation

    "Together with such a unique group of motivated people at the Next Gen Fellows Program, it was impossible not to feel inspired to learn, improve our skills, and achieve the things we are all working toward."
    "The Next Gen Fellows Program is amazing. It shows us, the next gen, the power and impact we have in philanthropy."

    "The Next Gen Retreat helped spark my family to start an associate board, which includes much of the third generation family members.” —Ted Donley, Associate Director, Donley Family Foundation

    "Thank you... for giving me the courage to find my voice and also giving me the tools to use it to make change in my foundation."

    "What do I love about [the] Next Gen programming? Being able to talk with my peers about foundation work, leaving the vacuum of my office, and building more connections." — Nan Pugh, Executive Director, Pugh Family Foundation