Philanthropy Forward: Leadership for Change

Philanthropy_Forward_Blue.pngNeighborhood Funders Group (NFG) and The Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions are excited to launch a new leadership fellowship for CEOs of progressive philanthropic institutions. This year's first cohort of 16 dynamic fellows is the start of an annually growing network of visionary CEO leaders who share a belief in a model of community partnership that centers community knowledge and power building.

Together, fellows will be strategic thought partners, with a dedicated space to organize together, boldly envisioning and advancing the transformed future of philanthropy — a future that centers and achieves equity and social justice. Philanthropy Forward fellows will be unlocking the challenges to philanthropy realizing its fullest role as a collective financial engine for social change.

For more information about joining the next Philanthropy Forward cohort, please contact Adriana Rocha, NFG's Vice President of Programs, at This fellowship is best suited for philanthropic institutions that are already supporting racial equity and powerbuilding and who are looking to go deeper by building a strong peer group and aligning more towards equity and impact.


Ultimately, the goal of each Philanthropy Forward cohort is to emerge with a collective identity as a financial engine for social change that centers long term impacts, community centered strategies, and advancing justice, equity and power. An important component will be building relationships across foundations within the 9-month program and between successive cohorts to realize outcomes at the individual leadership, organizational, and philanthropic field levels.

Through Philanthropy Forward, Fellows will:

  • Gather with other foundation CEOs in a dedicated space to explore bold possibilities together
  • Build momentum with an on-going peer learning group
  • Learn about and share systems-level analyses of both promising opportunities and challenges to advancing racial, gender, and economic equity and power building
  • Organize and experiment with strategic thought partners
  • Claim and step into individual and collective strengths as leaders for social justice
  • Better understand and access support around leadership learning edges
  • Name and understand power dynamics to build community power and advance equity
  • Deepen their ability to use and integrate action-based tools and strategies such as evaluation, racial equity practices, place-based initiatives, and strategic collaboration
  • Consciously foster and cultivate relationships and build a network of peers to support ongoing leadership and innovation in the sector 


Core Program Components


Participant Experience

The 2018-2019 Philanthropy Forward cohort began with a two and a half day residential kick-off on October 2-5, 2018 in Aspen, CO. After the kick-off, cohort members will receive a 360-degree leadership assessment on equity and power in grantmaking. The program also includes the following components:

  • Two additional 2.5 day in person meetings in St Louis, MO (Feb 2019) and on the East Coast (June 2019)
  • Action learning component including experiments, applied ideas, and experiential learning (e.g. power mapping)
  • Optional individual coaching w/core team member
  • Peer learning and peer coaching
  • Creating a toolkit of practices and analysis for leading change
  • Virtual time to check in on experiments

Estimated time commitment is nine days over 12 months, which includes three in person meetings plus some additional time in virtual sessions. This additional time will include activities such as peer coaching, content and strategy learning, and possible projects and experiments.

In-Person Cohort MeetingsScreen_Shot_2018-10-08_at_2.46.46_PM.png

  • Kick-off: October 2-5, 2018
    • The Aspen Institute | Aspen, CO
  • February 2019
    • St. Louis, MO
  • Close-out: June 2019
    • East Coast (TBD)

Additional Activities

  • Peer coaching
  • Content and strategy webinars
  • Possible projects and experiments
  • Optional coaching with a faculty member