2023 Next Gen Fellows Program | Prepare Your Foundation for the Future

Next Gen Fellows Program

Registration for this program is closed

The Next Gen Fellows Program is a 6-week, virtual leadership development program 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 engagement and peer networking to prepare you to lead both in the future and now from your current position.

Anyone in philanthropy, regardless of age, title, or specific role, has influence and some power to shape philanthropic practices. You can step into leadership in your existing context, and through the Next Gen Fellows Program, we’ll offer ideas of how to lead at your organization.

In this program, you will:

  • Be guided by practitioners and field leaders
  • Learn about current and emerging practices and trends
  • Discuss concepts in a safe and encouraging environment
  • Come away with an unmatched peer group that will provide support, ideas, and guidance
  • Reflect on learnings individually and with peers and work to identify opportunities to bring ideas and next steps to your philanthropic work.

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.

    Program Components

    Foundations 101 Virtual Seminar
    Learn the fundamentals of good governance, investments, legal basics, grantmaking strategies, and an overview of the nonprofit sector with our Foundation 101 virtual seminar. You’ll watch five recorded seminar modules at your own pace and before the virtual learning series begins on February 27. This is optional, though it’s recommended for level setting for those with less than three years in philanthropy.

    Virtual Learning Series
    The Virtual Learning Series is the core of the Next Gen Fellows Program. Together with your peers, you’ll build off the knowledge you gain in the Foundations 101 series. This six-week virtual learning component is an opportunity to gain an understanding of and grapple with nuanced topics in philanthropy today. The carefully selected themes are intended to spark dialogue and to explore new possibilities in your own philanthropic context.

    While Foundations 101 covers the basics of what you should consider in your work, each foundation decides, through board and/or staff conversations, how they want to move their work forward within those guardrails. As much as we want to find answers in a book, there are essential conversations for foundations to have which have no how-to guides. These topics are what will we will learn about and wrestle with together in the Virtual Learning Series. The issues are relevant for rising leaders in the sector regardless of role within a foundation.

    You’ll engage with each other as well as other funders and field leaders. You’ll work to identify opportunities to engage in next steps in your own philanthropic work.

    All modules are scheduled from 2:00-4:00 PM ET.

    • WEEK 1: Build Healthy Relationships (Mon 2/27 & Wed 3/1). Get to know your cohort this first week. And in light of our getting to know each other, learn how to build a healthy culture based on trust at your foundation. Deeper relationships can lead to honest conversations among board, staff, and grantee partners – and more effective grantmaking.
      1. Deep Introductions
      2. Building Trust and Deepening Relationships
    • WEEK 2: Learn about Your Community (Mon 3/6 & Wed 3/8). Impact means something different for every grantmaker as each funder has different goals. How do funders learn about the community issues and then evaluate their work and impact in the community and for grantees?
      1. Connecting in Your Community
      2. Assessing Your Impact
    • WEEK 3: Understand Your Power (Mon 3/13 & Wed 3/15). Explore how foundations can use their power to create transformative change in their communities. Transformative change comes about when funders understand their community and leverage their non-grant assets to support social change.
      1. Using All Tools in the Toolbox: Non-Grant Assets
      2. Managing Power Dynamics
    • WEEK 4: Engage in Equity Conversations (Mon 3/20 & Wed 3/22) Funders are rethinking barriers to entry and, knowing the strains and constraints on their grantees, these grantmakers are also streamlining grant requirements, collaborating with other funders, engaging constituents in the grantmaking process, and providing financial support to grantees for evaluation. How do you start these conversations and what does it look like in practice?
      1. Looking Inward: Implicit Bias
      2. Working Outward: Equity & Inclusion Practices
    • WEEK 5: Change Management & Reflection (Mon 3/27 & Wed 3/29). “The only constant is change,” goes the common adage. Change is hard – but key for implementation of decisions and moving forward. After the change workshop, we’ve reserved a session to digest and process content to date and get peer support where there are still questions.
      1. Change Management
      2. Peer Exchange
    • WEEK 6: Own Your Leadership (Mon 4/3 & Wed 4/5). Next gen staff and trustees in philanthropy have power and influence regardless of professional title. Learn tactical ways to maximize your leadership potential and step into your power at your foundation or in the field.
      1. Owning Your Leadership
      2. Program Take-Aways & Moving Forward

    Peer Coaching
    Fellows will be thoughtfully grouped in small peer coaching circles and will connect throughout the fellowship. Your peers will support your individualized learning, work with you to engage with questions that arise from the programs’ content, and serve as a trusted resource long afterward.


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

    Kerry is a seasoned facilitator and serves as a program officer and board member at The Helen J. Serini Foundation, named after her grandmother. She previously worked in communications with a variety of government and nonprofit clients. Kerry is an avid reader and book reviewer, and has volunteered with various local nonprofits and philanthropic institutions in her hometown of Frederick, MD, where she lives with her husband and young son.

    Application Procedure

    Applications will be reviewed to ensure that participants meet age guidelines and are currently or soon-to-be trustees or staff at 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. The deadline to apply is December 16, 2022. Participants will be notified of their participation status (i.e.  accepted, waitlisted, or denied) by mid-January.

    Exponent Philanthropy Member Program Fee: $1,995
    Non-Member Program Fee: $2,495

    Participants accepted to the program pay a program fee of $1,995 or $2,495 and are expected to complete any pre-work associated with the program and attend all modules of the program. Recordings of each module are available to re-watch in case of a health or family emergency during the 6-week program. Canceled registrants are welcome to reapply for a future cohort.

    Registration fees and travel costs associated with trainings like this cohort program may be counted towards your foundation’s five percent distribution requirement. Consult your professional advisor to discuss your specific circumstances.


    By applying for this program, participants are agreeing to the Exponent Philanthropy Participant Guidelines. Cancellations (especially those close to the event date) can negatively impact the cost-effectiveness and quality of our programs. However, we understand that situations may arise that prevent your participation in the cohort. Written cancellation requests received 15 days before the program starts will be approved only under extreme circumstances and will be subject to a $75 processing fee; your spot will not carry over to future cohorts and you will need to reapply. No refunds will be issued for cancellations received after 15 days before the program starts or if you leave the fellowship once the program has commenced. Please submit all cancellations by e-mail to info@exponentphilanthropy.org. 

    Platform and Accessibility

    This program uses Zoom; automated closed captioning available. We can provide additional accommodations upon request (e.g., live captioner, ASL interpreter). Please contact info@exponentphilanthropy.org or call 202-580-6560 by February 20 if you need any accommodations.