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2021 Lead For America Fellowship

The 2021 Lead for America Fellowship is now accepting applications.

NOTE: If you apply using the Handshake "Apply" button, we will contact you regarding next steps for the application. To be fully considered for the fellowship, all candidates must complete Lead For America's external application on AirTable. To begin the fellowship application, follow this link.

Who We Are

A single visionary leader rooted in humility can change a community. Many working together can transform our country.

Lead for America works to ensure that our country’s most dynamic and diverse young leaders are working on our toughest challenges. We believe that with the right leadership in the right places, we can reimagine the American Dream in a way that is:
1) Shared. Where we all have strong communal ties and a common aspiration of equity and justice for all.
2) Accessible. Where everyone has a chance at economic and civic mobility, no matter their zip code; and
3) Sustainable. Where our education system and public institutions are well-positioned to grow and sustain the next generation of leadership that will be responsible for solving problems that we cannot yet see.

Fellowship Overview

From the COVID-19 crisis to intergenerational poverty and ecological devastation, the challenges facing our communities and nation are immense. And our communities and public institutions––the very things designed to confront these challenges, give every American a chance at a better life, and care for those who can’t care for themselves––are crumbling exactly when we need them most. 
Lead For America’s flagship Hometown Fellows program builds the leadership force we need to address these challenges at scale, to change the narrative of success and worth in our country, and to ensure that every child has a chance at a better life, no matter their neighborhood or family circumstances. The program is a paid, two-year fellowship for dynamic and diverse leaders ages 21-30 who return to their hometown communities and home states to work full-time alongside local public institutions implementing proven strategies to improve community wellbeing.


LFA Fellows are community activators. You work to revitalize your community and show that another way of leading and living—rooted in love and collective wellbeing—is possible. The fellowship is structured to cultivate your personal leadership development, amplify your community impact, and support you in strengthening the civic fabric of your hometown for the long term. We truly view LFA Fellows as co-creators and partners in developing and strengthening LFA.

The fellowship is based around 4 components:

Project Scope: Fellows add capacity for their public institution to tackle a community-identified “grand challenge”. By working within public institutions they will gain access to and develop an understanding of the key roles that they can play in growing & sustaining a vibrant community.
Leadership Development + Support: Fellows participate in a month-long summer Catalyst Institute where they learn alongside professionals, academics, and social sector leaders across a multitude of fields, and receive leadership development, equity, and character-building training. Administered in partnership with Tufts University’s Tisch College of Civic Life, Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and the University of Minnesota, past Catalyst Institute have included over 60 speakers from all over the country, including Brookings Institution Centennial Scholar Bruce Katz, Nobel Peace Prize Nominee Amanda Nguyen, and the nationally renowned Mayor of Ithaca Svante Myrick. Fellows also engage in ongoing training, mentorship, support, and retreats throughout their two years of service.
Listening Tour + Community Venture: Fellows conduct a Listening Tour of their community to identify areas where their unique talents and passions can serve greater community needs and inspire them to launch a Community Venture. 
Multiplier Effect: Fellows will identify emerging opportunities for their communities and mobilize others, to seize them and invest in their communities alongside them. Fellows are expected to recruit an additional 5-10 young leaders to return, move to, or become activated to serve in their home community.

Applicant-Led Positions

At this time, our applicant-led process, meaning that candidates can apply to serve any community where they have strong personal ties, has closed. However, we will accept applications from exceptionally qualified individuals on a case by case basis. Selection for those individuals that apply via this process will occur in line with the upcoming pre-confirmed deadlines.

Pre-Confirmed Positions

We are accepting applications for pre-confirmed positions (where specific placements have already been secured by LFA in particular communities). Please be sure to check out prior to applying for up-to-date information regarding placement sites over the course of early 2021.


Cycle 1 (Applicant-Led)
First Round Deadline: Nov. 15th
Semifinalist Deadline: Nov. 29th
Finalist Interviews: Dec. 10th-11th
Endorsed Finalist Selection: Dec. 18th

Cycle 2 (Pre-Confirmed)
First Round Deadline: Feb. 22nd
Semifinalist Deadline: March 12th
Finalist Interviews: Mar. 18th-25th
Endorsed Finalist Selection: Mar. 26th

Cycle 3 (Pre-Confirmed)
First Round Deadline: May 15th
Semifinalist Deadline: May 29th
Finalist Interviews: June 6th-7th
Endorsed Finalist Selection: June 14th

Eligibility Guidelines

-Be a US Citizen, Permanent Resident, or DACA Recipient.
-Be under the age of 30 in June 2021 (this requirement can be flexible if you are a few years older than 30 but otherwise believe you are a compelling candidate)
-If in college, be on track to earn an undergraduate degree by June 2021, and if graduated, have earned an undergraduate degree in 2012 or later (this may include an associate degree).
-Be able to make a full-time commitment (the fellowship is a full-time job).

Lead For North Carolina Eligibility Guidelines

-If applying to Lead For North Carolina, have grown up in North Carolina, or have spent a significant portion of life living in North Carolina apart from time spent during college.
-Must not have completed an MPA program by start of fellowship.

Learn More & Contact Us 

To learn more about the fellowship program or LFA, please see here.
To schedule a call with an LFA Fellow, please see here.
If you do not see an email from LFA after submitting your registration in the LFA application portal, please check your spam folder.