Next Gen Fellows Program

Applications for the 2020 cohort are closed. Applications for the 2021 cohort will open in the fall.

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.

2020 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 (registration cost included in Next Gen program fees).

In-person Training Intensive | June 7–9, 2020, Washington, DC
Together with your peers, build off the knowledge you gain in the Foundations 101 series, and learn from experts on topics such as effectiveness, equity, managing change, and envisioning the next generation’s legacy. During the training, you will identify your learning objectives and work to create your personal action plan which will guide you through the rest of the fellowship. Plus, learn from exemplary local nonprofits, connect with local Exponent Philanthropy members and field leaders during a special reception in your honor.

Continuing Education and Support
The learning doesn’t end with the Training Intensive and National Conference. There will be topical webinars to learn more about emerging trends in the field of philanthropy. We will also hold “office hours” where fellows have the opportunity to ask their peers questions, receive guidance, and work through challenges together.

2020 Annual Meeting | October 6-8, 2020, Anaheim, CA
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 of other Next Gen participants, meet program alums, and step into other conference leadership roles. Participate in a book discussion with your peers. Connect with the field’s leading thinkers and doers and choose from dozens of relevant sessions (registration cost included in Next Gen program fees).

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 action plan, and serve as a trusted resource long afterward.

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. 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.


Receive Exponent Philanthropy’s top-selling publications, The Foundation Guidebook and The Trustee Handbook, our most comprehensive resources for foundation trustees and key staff.


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

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.

Early Applications – 12/13/2019
Early applications will be reviewed and acceptances will be extended on 1/13.

Regular Applications – 3/13/2020
Applicants will be notified of their program status (accepted, waitlisted, declined) by 3/26.

Member Program Fee: $2,495
NonMember Program Fee: $2,795

Participants accepted to the program pay a program fee of $2,495 or $2,795 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.

Need Board or Staff Approval to Apply? Download this toolkit to provide your board or Executive Director with the details and cost of the program.

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 on or before May 17 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 May 17 or if you leave the fellowship once the program has commenced. Please submit all cancellations by e-mail to