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YouthActionNet Blog

Learning to Lead: The Laureate Global Fellowship Approach

Joel Adriance | February 10, 2014
2013 Fellow Pablo Avestegui shares his ideas at the Laureate Global Fellowship retreat in São Paulo, Brazil

“So, what’s it really like to be a Laureate Global Fellow?” 

Our team has always found this deceptively simple question very hard to answer. How do you transmit the full nature of an experience that goes far beyond the mechanics of a training, an award, and a year of virtual support? 


These are the basic facts:

  • Each year we very carefully select twenty young people from around the world, who are founders or co-founders of innovative, high-impact, social ventures.
  • These 18 to 29 year olds are typically anywhere from two to five years into the launch of their ventures, and are wrestling with how to sustain and grow their impact.
  • We bring this group together in October to kick off their Fellowship with an intensive, weeklong training retreat.The training uses a participatory methodology to strengthen individual leadership capacity and catalyze venture development.
  • Following the retreat, we manage a virtual support process in which each Fellow identifies growth goals for themselves and for their venture, and is paired with a staff coach, to help them connect their learning with real world actions. This part of the process is highly individualized, and integrated into the day-to-day demands of their work.
  • Fellows also gain access to exclusive webinars, participate in virtual communities, are featured in media, and have the chance to leverage larger YouthActionNet and IYF networks.
  • By August we bring this process to a close, and the current Fellows become alumni, with access to ongoing support, resources, and continuing education—for life. 

If those are the basic mechanics of the experience, here are three larger elements that really set the Fellowship apart:

1. A Human Centered Approach

We know that this experience is not only about learning new content or skills—it’s equally about the relationships that Fellows form, and the ability to authentically interact with a group of peers and mentors who share their passions. We deliberately build spaces into the program for Fellows to get to know each other, build real friendships, and share experiences across diverse contexts and cultures. We think a lot about how to shape a cohort experience that is characterized by genuine care for each individual, and the opportunity to simply be ourselves, in all our talents, capacities, flaws and weaknesses. We also know that some of the greatest learning moments will occur outside the training room—over a coffee or a beer, in nature, and in play.

2. The Chance to Think Big

We recognize that the day-to-day demands of leading an organization can make it very challenging to find the time for deep reflection—to gain perspective on where we’ve come from, and to think creatively about where we want to go. Our training is designed to help Fellows take a step outside these pressures, and examine their life and work from a distance.  As they refine their vision, establish goals, and eventually return to "real life," our coaching process helps them transform ideas into actions, and find ways to sustain and deepen their advances.

3. Learner Driven

Our program design recognizes that each Fellow is ultimately responsible for his or her own learning. We believe that (young) adults need learning processes that are dynamic, individualized, and anchored in real world experience. We are there to accompany our Fellows, to connect them with peers, mentors and experts, and to empower them to find the resources, answers, and relationships they need.

If you find this description exciting, then I highly recommend that you take the time to apply for the Laureate Global Fellowship. You can learn more about how to apply here. We look forward to hearing from you!