Rising Leaders Fellowship

"Rising Leaders Fellowship kept me at my job. I was thinking about leaving because I didn't feel like anyone else at my workplace was interested in cultural relevancy, and was feeling frustrated and disillusioned. RLF gave me the community and feeling of support I needed to make the choice to stay at my workplace, and the tools to talk to management productively to make changes in our staff trainings and the way we relate to our participants. RLF also gave me a community of like-minded people doing inspiring work, which was a fountain of inspiration and good ideas to take to my work and workplace."

What is the Rising Leaders Fellowship?

Now in its fifth year, the Rising Leaders Fellowship supports the professional development of individuals in entry to mid-level positions within youth-serving outdoor programs. Specifically, Youth Outside targets individuals who are enthusiastic about connecting youth to the outdoors in culturally relevant and inclusive ways by affecting culture change within their organizations. The Rising Leaders Fellowship builds professional capacity while creating a supportive network of like-minded leaders through a project based cohort series that focuses on social justice and equity in the outdoors.

Application Priority Deadline: Must be submitted online or to operations@youthoutside.org by 5PM, Friday, February 22, 2019.  

Final application deadline is Friday, March 8th.

Program Overview

A cohort of up to twenty fellows will be selected to participate in an 8-session series that runs from April through December 2019. Participants are expected to participate in all three of the components outlined below. The Fellowship will culminate with participant led presentations on the benefits to youth of increased cultural relevancy in programs.

This year, we’re hosting the Rising Leaders Fellowship in the south Bay Area.  Priority will be given to applicants who work for organizations serving individuals and families in Santa Clara County.  Please see the Frequently Asked Questions at the bottom of this page for more info.

In-person sessions: The in-person sessions will consist of capacity building modules, peer coaching and community building. These sessions will focus on personal and organizational development. Participants will be required to bring internal documents for learning purposes. A list of topics and the required documents can be found below.

Increased Relevancy Project: Fellows will be asked to identify opportunities for increased cultural relevancy within their organization and develop a plan of action that addresses one or more identified opportunities. Inside of smaller work groups, fellows will serve as peer coaches through this process and will present on their efforts and findings at the culminating session.

Individual Coaching: Each participant will have the opportunity to receive up to three hours of individual coaching. The purpose of coaching is to explore areas of personal and/or professional development in a supportive environment.

Topics & Objectives

  • Social Justice – Explore related concepts and practices to move toward a just society; examine the historical context of exclusion in the United States and how this impacts youth.  

  • Power & Privilege – Examine power and privilege dynamics and the impact these can have on youth; explore opportunities to leverage power and privilege.

  • Intentional Communication – Examine effective and intentional communication strategies for authentic relationship building between staff and youth.

  • Strategic Planning – Analyze organizations’ strategic plans and if/how equity and inclusion are incorporated into the plan; explore opportunities to ground strategic plans in youth narrative.

  • Youth Development – Explore the concept of trauma-informed youth development and identify opportunities to increase cultural relevancy in youth programming.

  • Curriculum Development – Analyze curriculum for implicit bias and explore avenues to incorporate youth voice in curriculum and programs.

  • Fund Development – Examine the ways in which youth narrative is being communicated; explore how deficit-minded fundraising can harm youth.

Why Does Youth Outside Offer the Rising Leaders Fellowship? 

We strive to ensure that the lived experience of all youth is honored as part of their outdoor experience and work to create equitable and inclusive connections to nature through grantmaking, capacity-building and trainings. Youth Outside recognizes that within the environmental movement, efforts need to be supported that will attract and retain talented people of color and other communities who have had historic and systemic barriers to accessing the outdoors. To this end, Youth Outside delivers the Rising Leaders Fellowship.

Program Schedule

Session 1: Thursday, April 18, 2019

Session 2: Thursday, May 16, 2019

Session 3: Thursday, June 20, 2019

Session 4: Thursday, August 15, 2019

Session 5: Thursday, September 19, 2019

Session 6: Thursday, October 17, 2019

Session 7: Thursday, November 21, 2019

Session 8: Thursday, December 12, 2019

Time: 10AM to 3:30PM (Breakfast & Lunch Provided) 

Session Location: In-person sessions will be held in the Silicon Valley. Exact locations TBA. 

Individual Coaching: Meeting location(s) will be scheduled between coach and participant 

Time Commitment: The total time estimated for participation includes the following: 8 in-person sessions (5-hour sessions plus travel to and from location) 4 to 8 peer check-ins (participant-established timeframes) 1 to 3 individual coaching session (3 hours)

Eligibility Criteria

  • Applicant is employed with a non-profit organization that serves youth through outdoor programming or outdoor education.
  • Applicant holds an entry or mid-level position within their organization (this may include direct program staff, program leads, program coordinators, or middle management)
  • Applicant is committed to affecting change within their organization and the outdoor field at large, and to promoting cultural relevancy as a framework for increased equity and inclusion within the outdoor field.
  • Applicant is committed to being fully present at each session, and to their own personal and professional growth.
  • Applicant has the approval of their organization’s Executive Director and/or direct supervisor to participate in the program in its entirety.
  • Applicant can commit to full program participation, including attendance of all in-person sessions and peer check-ins.
  • Applicant is able to obtain the following documents from their organization:
    1. Strategic Plan (or strategic planning documents)
    2. Organization mission and vision statements
    3. Youth discipline policies; incident report form
    4. Organizational budget AND/OR program budget
    5. Previously written grant proposal (2-5 pages)
    6. Commonly used piece of curriculum
    7. Job description for participant’s current position AND job description for position that works directly with youth (if not applicant’s current role)
  • Applicant has the capacity to provide a $200 deposit upon selection. Deposit will be fully refunded upon successful completion of the program.  [Deposit can be made by the sponsoring organization or by the individual participating in the program]

Application Process

You can find the Rising Leaders Online Applicant form here

You can find the Rising Leaders Online Supervisor form here

Please note: The Sponsor form is to be completed by the supervisor or authorized representative of the organization sponsoring the Applicant; and must be submitted before the entire application is considered complete.

Application Priority Deadline: Must be submitted online or to operations@youthoutside.org by 5PM, Wednesday, February 22, 2019

Application Final Deadline: 5PM on Friday, March 8, 2019

Interviews: February 25th - March 25th

Selection Announcement: March 27th


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)

Am I still eligible to apply if:

  • I do not work for organizations serving individuals and families in Santa Clara County?

    • Yes, but note that your application would not have priority.

  • I’m passionate about this work, but currently in transition between organizations?

    • Yes, please include this information in your application.

  • I identify as white, not as person of color, nor as someone who has experienced historic barriers?

    • Yes, we encourage everyone to apply regardless of how they identify.

  • I’m currently working at more than one organization, or working at an organization part time?

    • Yes, please include this information in your application.

  • I know that I’ll have at least one date conflict?

    • Yes, if you are invited to interview, please let the program team know the date.

  • I’m unable to obtain one or more of the required documents from my organization?

    • Yes, you are still be eligible to apply.

Priority Deadline:

  • What does it mean?

    • Applications submitted by the priority deadline  will be invited for an interview and guaranteed a spot in the cohort , should their application and interview be successful.

  • What happens if I don’t submit until March 8th?

    • Your application will be considered eligible for review, but will not be considered a priority application.


For more information about the program or questions regarding the application, please contact Ravi Lau at operations@youthoutside.org