Bush Foundation Fellowship Application Tips

Bush Foundation Fellowship Application Tips

Your Bush foundation Fellowship journey begins with a personal goal to become more effective in your leadership and a vision for what that could mean for your community. You define your vision, create a Fellowship plan and carry it out.

As you consider applying for the Bush foundation Fellowship, think about things like:

  • What is your vision for making your community stronger? What is the impact you want to have?
  • How do you need to change, grow and develop to make that happen? How will you build your skills to work inclusively with people of all different backgrounds?
  • Remember, this is an opportunity to stretch beyond your comfort zone. Think big about the skills, connections, knowledge and experiences that would help you turn your vision into reality.
  • Talk to others about your ideas. Listen to their feedback and use it to strengthen your plan.

BUSH FELLOWSHIP: IS NOW THE TIME?

The question of timing when you apply for the Bush Fellowship falls into three main areas: space for your growth, knowledge and connections, and a deep understanding of what you need to grow as a leader.

Space for your growth:

You are busy! If you plan to just keep doing what you are already doing with your full life and add the Fellowship on top, you may need to reconsider whether now is the right time in your life for a Fellowship. Folks who get the most of out the Fellowship create the time they need to focus on Fellowship activities. If you are already running at maximum capacity, do you have any room to absorb new experiences, connections and ideas? More than likely, you will encounter new things and they will bounce right off because you are moving so fast. We don’t want you to miss out on maximizing this Fellowship experience. Help us understand how you will make space in your extraordinary life for the Fellowship.

ASK YOURSELF: DO I HAVE THE TIME TO DEVOTE TO MY OWN GROWTH IN SERVICE OF THE PEOPLE AND ISSUES I CARE ABOUT?

Knowledge and connections:

Are you driven to become an even stronger leader so that you can accelerate your ability to make positive change with your community? If so, you need connections to the people most impacted by the change you seek, as well as a foundation of knowledge about an issue to give you credibility and a clear sense of what is needed to make change happen. Of course, we know you will learn new things along the way. Help us to understand what will help you soar based on how you are already grounded through your personal experiences, knowledge and connections.

ASK YOURSELF: DO I HAVE ENOUGH CONNECTION TO THE PEOPLE WHO ARE MOST IMPACTED BY THE ISSUE I CARE ABOUT TO REALLY MAKE A DIFFERENCE THROUGH MY LEADERSHIP?

What you need to grow as a leader:

If the Fellowship is going to be truly transformational for you, an intentional plan for your Fellowship is necessary. Fellows tell us that being clear about how they need to develop, starting out with a plan that stretches them beyond their comfort zones and leaving room for serendipity are key to maximizing their leadership growth during a Fellowship. When you are thinking about your plan, help us to understand why the plan you submit truly exposes you to new people, experiences and ways of being. How does it open the possibility of helping you to be more effective in leading across difference? Where are you intentional about not only building your knowledge and connections, but also deepening your understanding about who you are as a leader and what makes you effective?

ASK YOURSELF: DO I KNOW ENOUGH ABOUT HOW I NEED TO GROW TO REALLY PUT TOGETHER A PLAN THAT MAKES THE MOST OF THIS ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME EXPERIENCE?

What makes a Bush Fellow: 

why was this group of 24 selected out of all of the applicants? The answer lies in the power of applicants’ perspectives and reflections.

The criteria for the Fellowship fall into three categories: track record, potential and plan. What sets future Fellows apart is their ability to powerfully reflect on these criteria in ways that are deep and nuanced. They clearly link their track record to their vision for the future. They explore and explain the pivot points in their life that led to who they are today, the community change they care about and how they want to be stronger tomorrow. They understand that link and can convey it to others.

When it comes to potential, many applicants talk about their development with regard to an issue they care about. In contrast, successful applicants focus on their personal growth. They take a nuanced look at what has made them effective agents of change, how they can build on those strengths and what they need to fill their own gaps that may be holding them back. Often, those who become Fellows have engaged deeply with those around them to not only ask “What am I great at that I should do even more?” but also “Where do you think I hold myself back? What would help me to soar as a leader in service to my community?”

Finally, the difference between a good plan and a great one comes across in a few areas. Future Fellows have thought about not only going out to gather new ideas and connections, but also how to understand large-scale systems change and what they need to build within their own leadership to galvanize their community around those new ideas. Additionally, Fellows are clear about why the components of their plan are the exact right components for them. There is no one definition or type of leader, so Fellowship plans are wildly varied. What is true across the board is that Fellows push themselves to reflect deeply beyond what they ever imagined for themselves. We honor the vulnerability and vision that each applicant shares and appreciate the strong leadership we encounter all across the Bush Foundation’s region.

Five questions people ask themselves
before they become highly effective leaders

WHY YOU?

Before you decide what to do to be a more effective leader, it is important to know why you want to become a more effective leader. Being clear about your motives, as well as the experience and skills you offer, is an important first step in creating a plan to improve your leadership skills.

WHO ELSE?

Effective leaders work with and through others to achieve their goals. Giving thought to the people who you can begin to learn from, who can support your work, and who you need to inspire to create positive change in your community will go a long way to identify the right leadership development path for you.

HOW WELL DO YOU WORK WITH OTHERS?

One of the most important parts of leadership is working with people whose backgrounds, experiences and perspectives are different than your own. Taking time to honestly reflect on ways you can be better at working across differences will help you be a more inclusive and equitable leader.

WHAT WILL IT MEAN?

Often what keeps good leaders from being great is the ability to recognize the difference between intention and impact. Understanding how your intentions align with your impact will help you adapt your approach and create change that benefits everyone.

HOW WILL YOU TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF?

All the work you put into becoming a more effective leader won’t amount to much if you don’t take care of yourself. To quote writer and civil rights activist Audre Lorde, “caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it’s self-preservation.” Honor the investment you make in yourself by taking care of yourself.

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