Rooted in Vibrant Communities (RVC)’s Community Impact Fellowship Program places talented leaders of color in a two-year full-time position at local grassroots organizations led by communities of color.
We aim to cultivate and strengthen BIPOC leadership in BIPOC-led grassroots nonprofits by providing fellows a job + cohort learning experience, training, coaching, and mentorship that centers on collectivity, adaptability, transformative, and just leadership for themselves and the communities they live, work, play, and serve.
Our Fellows bring experience, passion, and talent — we provide a biweekly stipend, benefits, and ongoing professional development training. To learn more, check out the other pages.
2021 Community Impact Fellowship Updates
The Fellowship team engaged in deep strategic visioning and planning alongside key stakeholders, including fellows, partner organization leaders, and community members. This resulted programming changes, Green Pathways closing, and a fellowship gap period. We shared the process we took to reach these important decisions and provided more information about the fellowship programs’ changes. You can also listen to a recently published podcast to learn more about the team’s learnings from that process.
The Decision-making Process
The Fellowship team collected extensive feedback from RVC staff, board members, current fellows, and current and prospective partners on two things:
- Our Strategic Vision: how can the fellowship program best serve our community in the coming years.
- A Longer Timeline between cohorts: By 2021, our team had been working for six years with no break between cohort years. We took a collective moment to slow down and build in planning time between cohorts.
The team also took time to develop criteria to help guide us in making decisions that align with our mission and the program’s future. The program must:
- meet community needs with intentionality and alignment with RVC’s resources;
- position RVC to be even stronger in our mission and values;
- have focus (given our limited resources);
- align with RVC’s other support programs (Capacity Building and Operations Support); and
- be responsive to political, social, and environmental climate/context.
RVC Fellowship Program Changes
After a number of conversations and thoughtful feedback, here’s where it led us:
- RVC will have one fellowship program consisting of 12 – 15 mid-level leaders.
- As the Green Pathways Fellowship Program closes with the current cohort, RVC is committed to developing a path forward to center young people in our programming in the future and is integrating environmental justice education into our core fellowship curriculum. We are also actively looking for a new home for the Green Pathways program. If you are a Nonprofit or know about one interested in partnering with us to continue a version of the Green Pathways Program, we want to hear from you! Please Email Green Pathways Fellowship Program Manager Flo Sum at [email protected] for more information.
- Our priority is to center Black and Indigenous communities and serve leaders at our partner organizations (such as supervisors and directors), not solely the fellows.
- We will continue to explore the potential of certification for the RVC fellowship program.
Fellowship Gap Period & Timeline for Future Programming
The most recent cohort of the Community Impact Fellowship Program started in January 2022. First, our incoming partner organizations will engage in a learning arc of capacity building. In June 2022, the fellows began working at the partner organizations. This ensured that both our partners and fellows are set up for success.
The RVC Fellowship team has hosted back-to-back cohorts for the last six years. The decision to take a gap period has been a difficult one but will allow us to reflect internally on the lessons learned and provide our team with the space to identify new visions for the fellowship program. We have big dreams for the Fellowship program’s next iteration, including centering Black and Native communities. This will require building a program with deep intentionality. In this reflection period, we will take time to think through areas of improvement actively, deepen relationships with partner organizations, and set our fellows and partners up to thrive.”
Johnny Fikru, RVC Fellowship Coordinator
Sometimes, especially during the pandemic, slowing down is the fastest way to achieve the results we want to serve our fellows and partners best. We can all benefit from resisting the Nonprofit Industrial Complex by pausing, reflecting, and leaning into planning and spaciousness in our work. Kudos to our teams! This is a great example of leading values first as they pause to build robust programming to best support our leaders.
Thank you & stay tuned for more fellowship updates soon
Our community’s feedback has been invaluable to our team. We send many thanks to our community members who shared their expertise and opinions with us as we grappled with these difficult decisions. Our goal was to be informative and inclusive as we navigated this process, and we were committed to keeping stakeholders in the loop regarding our gap period for the fellowship program.
If you have any additional questions or feedback about the Fellowship gap period, please share with our awesome fellowship team at [email protected].
For any questions about the Green Pathways Program updates, please contact [email protected].
Learn about the recent successes and impact of the fellowship programs in our annual report.
Stay tuned for more updates about the next iteration of the fellowship program. More information to come soon.
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Learn more about the current fellowship program here.