Ford Foundation Launches Global Fellows Network to Tackle Inequality Worldwide

Ford Foundation Launches Global Fellows Network to Tackle Inequality Worldwide

NEW YORK — The Ford Foundation today announced the launch of a 10-year Global Fellowship program, which aims to identify, connect, and support the next generation of social justice leaders who are advancing innovative solutions to end inequality in communities most affected around the globe. The program is a $50 million investment over the next decade in a robust network of 240 global fellows. The inaugural fellows cohort is comprised of 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.

The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the crisis of inequality and created new urgency to fix it. The Ford Foundation believes new global leadership is therefore more important than ever to meet these challenges and bring new ideas and energy to solving problems exposed or exacerbated by the pandemic. The Ford Global Fellowship is an investment to build a global network of leaders to fight inequality, is critical at this moment.

The 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 cohort draws from four regions: Brazil, the United States, East Africa, and the Middle East and North Africa.

“The Ford Global Fellowship builds on the Ford Foundation’s long standing commitment to investing in the ideas, individuals, and institutions that drive meaningful, systemic change,” said Hilary Pennington, Ford Foundation executive vice president of programs. “We are proud to introduce our inaugural cohort of Ford Global Fellows, which includes some of the world’s most innovative and promising social change leaders committed to tackling inequality — the defining challenge of our time, now more than ever. We cannot go back to the old normal that existed before the pandemic, and this program is an investment in reimagining solutions to global challenges that respect no borders. By connecting fellows to each other and to the broader Ford network, we hope to create a catalytic effect that accelerates the impact of their individual and collective work, to address challenges during the pandemic and beyond.”

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, some of which have produced the most prominent social justice leaders of our day. 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 at 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 will also each 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.

Over the decades, Ford has stood behind extraordinary individuals and leaders who have changed the world – starting before they made their marks. The Ford Global Fellowship follows the Ford Foundation’s pioneering, decade-long International Fellowships Program and continues its storied legacy as a fellowship provider. The program also builds on the Foundation’s longstanding commitment and significant investments in combating the root causes of inequality on a global scale, and its work to support institutions, individuals, and ideas.

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


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