The Obama Foundation Scholars program gives rising leaders from the United States and around the world who are already making a difference in their communities the opportunity to take their work to the next level through an immersive curriculum that brings together academic, skills-based, and hands-on learning.
The Scholars program at Columbia University and the University of Chicago empowers individuals with a proven commitment to service with the tools they need to make their efforts more effective, to identify innovative solutions to complex global problems, and promote change through values-based leadership.
The program builds lasting relationships among emerging leaders who are committed to working together to solve the most pressing challenges of our time, thereby creating a global network that reaches across issues and borders.
After completing the program, Obama Foundation Scholars will:
- Return to work on their global issue of focus and implement their personalized action plan to accelerate positive change within their community.
- Have an opportunity to play a role in the Obama Foundation’s efforts to inspire, empower, and connect rising leaders from around the globe.
Scholars participate in an immersive program that brings together academic, skills-based and experiential learning, designed by Columbia University in consultation with the Obama Foundation. Key components of the program include:
- A Weekly Seminar that runs the length of the academic year, exploring questions in tandem with key global trends including inequality, technological developments, the diffusion of power, population movements, and climate change.
- Personal and Professional Development Workshops designed to strengthen practical skills to enhance Scholars’ ability to lead. Previous workshop topics include conflict management and resolution, public speaking, data analysis and interpretation, and resilience.
- An Experiential Learning component that engages Scholars in the work of Columbia World Projects.
- Audited Coursework that provides Scholars with the flexibility to select and enroll in up to two graduate level courses each semester at Columbia.
- A Thought Leadership Speaker Series that introduces Scholars to seasoned practitioners from the NGO community, philanthropy, government, and international organizations to expand Scholars’ networks and perspectives to help advance their work.
- Partnership with a Columbia faculty adviser selected for their subject matter expertise to provide Scholars with new insights and perspectives to inform Scholars’ work.
- Meaningful opportunities for Scholars to contribute to the intellectual life of the campus and gain exposure to different perspectives by engaging with the Columbia University community.
- Monthly stipend to assist with living expenses in New York City
- A furnished studio apartment within walking distance of Columbia University
- All tuition and fees for up to four courses at Columbia University
- Basic medical, dental and life insurance for the duration of the program in New York City
- Air travel to and from home country and any program-related activities
The Obama Foundation Scholars Program at Columbia University seeks rising leaders from the United States and around the world who meet the following criteria:
- Are emerging leaders who have made meaningful contributions to their field and are now at a “breakthrough moment” in their careers
- Have a proven commitment to service and leadership within a community, region or country, coupled with a demonstrated commitment to return to these communities following their completion of the program and apply their enhanced training, skills, and connections on a long-term basis for the benefit of these communities
- Are fluent in English (verbal, written and spoken)
- Have the ability and inclination to positively shape the future of their community
- Have a demonstrated commitment to inclusivity, community-orientation, hope, courage, imagination, strategy, accountability, integrity and resilience
- Please note: Priority will be given to applicants who have not matriculated at Columbia University. The fellowship is a full-time, residential program at Columbia and cannot be undertaken at the same time as a degree program.
A complete application, submitted entirely online, includes the following materials:
- Complete online application form
- Complete the online application form by 5 p.m. ET on December 12, 2023.
- Resume/curriculum vitae
- Personal video statement
- Responses to short essay questions
- Proof of English proficiency
- Two letters of recommendation
Also Read: Other Opportunities to Apply