The Nathan Cummings Foundation Fellowship Program provides three individuals with up to $150,000 each to pursue a visionary social justice, economic justice and/ or climate change objective for up to 18 months.
The proposed projects must be:
- Innovative, demonstrate exceptional vision, and relate to at least one of the major challenges the Foundation is dedicated to addressing:
- Climate Change
- The methodology must be rooted in at least one of the Foundation’s focus areas:
- Inclusive Clean Economy
- Racial and Economic Justice
- Corporate and Political Accountability
- Voice, Creativity and Culture
Preference will be given to proposals that address NCF’s DNA.
Fellows' projects will be expected to push NCF beyond its boundaries and open productive new lines of inquiry; ask provocative questions; challenge conventional wisdom; and develop new ideas, approaches and strategies.
Fellows will be thought partners informing the Foundation’s work and will have the use of a dedicated office at NCF’s New York City headquarters, access to NCF staff and a network of NCF grantees, advisors and thought leaders to provide strategic counsel on their project goals.
The selection committee will base their evaluation of each application on the following criteria: the applicant; the topic of the project; the project's alignment with the Foundation's DNA, issue areas and focus areas; the potential to forge a breakthrough solution; and the applicant's ability to carry out the proposed work.
The NCF Fellowship welcomes a diverse pool of applicants representing practitioners in a variety of fields. Applicants should hold a deep understanding of their subject area, possess a clear analysis of their field and be able to demonstrate a proven history of professional accomplishment and risk-taking.
The Nathan Cummings Foundation Fellowship supports innovative individuals who share our commitment to creating a more just, vibrant, sustainable and democratic society.
By finding solutions to the two most challenging problems of our time – the climate crisis and growing inequality – the Nathan Cummings Foundation aims to transform the systems and mindsets that hinder progress toward a more sustainable and equitable future for all people, particularly women and people of color.
Climate Change: NCF will address the climate crisis from an equity perspective and hold accountable the entrenched interests that have left our nation’s infrastructure and communities vulnerable and have stalled the energy and economic transformation we need. We will invest in solutions at the local, state, national and global level and join forces with diverse, enlightened leaders to chart a new course for a sustainable future.
Inequality: NCF will invest in work with strong potential to transform the influence of implicit bias and discrimination that currently exist in our public policy, systems and markets. We are particularly concerned about the effects of law enforcement and criminal justice policies and practices on the economic security of hard-working families. With our partners, we will catalyze new and effective pathways to improve quality of life for people; level the playing fields of opportunity; and challenge ideas, policies, practices and systems that perpetuate racial and ethnic stereotypes, criminalize people in poverty and make it possible for a few to hold a vastly disproportionate share of the nation’s income, wealth and assets.
The Nathan Cummings Foundation invests in four focus areas that together advance our vision of a healthy planet and a healthy democracy.
- We will accelerate a just transition to a more inclusive clean economy, where communities on the frontlines are creating solutions to the climate crisis and where prosperity for all people is not at odds with a healthy environment.
- We are determined to advance racial and economic justice by unlocking markets that have excluded generations from economic opportunity, reforming systems that criminalize too many and lifting up new models of democratic inclusion.
- We will use our influence as an investor and grantmaker to increase corporate and political accountability, spurring greater transparency and more democratic systems and structures.
- We believe in the transformative power of the arts, contemplative practice and religious traditions to change hearts and minds. We seek to move people to act for social change by amplifying voice, creativity and culture that can build empathy, nurture compassion and shift narratives about race, class, gender and ethnicity, who has power and how we value the planet.
The topic of a Fellow's project should support the work of the two major challenges we seek to address and at least one of the four strategic areas of focus. The Foundation is particularly interested in innovative efforts that cut across our issue areas or impact multiple focus areas. Successful projects will challenge conventional thinking and present an innovative idea that has the potential to revolutionize the way the Foundation approaches its work and advances its strategies (visit our website to find out more about the 2013, 2014 and 2015 NCF Fellowship recipients).
Project Outcomes and Products
Applicants should have a clear idea of the audience they would like to reach and the impact the project will have on the desired community. Projects should be creative and identify activities and communication strategies that will reach the target audiences. Effective projects will include lessons that can be applied to a broad range of settings.
While the work product may be as diverse as the problems applicants seek to remedy, the projects should be clear, concrete, actionable and inspiring. A Fellow's work for the 18 months might include the creation of a product such as a book or report, white paper, blog, video, public hearing or presentation, the launch of an initiative, campaign or nonprofit organization, or other creative work product.
Expectations and Support
Fellows are expected to utilize the Foundation's resources to bring fresh perspectives to NCF's staff, board, and network of grantees and philanthropic partners. Fellows are encouraged to utilize the Foundation’s office to host briefings, lectures, conferences, programs and events to highlight the cutting-edge products produced by their research and broaden the Foundation's understanding of an extensive range of challenges.
Fellows will initially receive $100,000 to carry out the goals of their project. Upon satisfactory completion of the first twelve (12) months, NCF staff will consider extending the partnership with Fellows for an additional six (6) months. Extended partnership periods will allow NCF to integrate Fellows into its networks of individual, organizational and grantee partners, and seek additional financial support for the Fellowship idea.
The Fellowship program does NOT fund enrollment for degree or non-degree study at academic institutions, including dissertation research. The Fellowship program does NOT cover the Fellows’ health benefits and does NOT account for taxes owed to the IRS for the grant award. The Nathan Cummings Foundation is a private foundation. As a private foundation, NCF cannot support lobbying activities. Projects that include lobbying activities will not be funded.