The Roddenberry Fellowship is rooted in the revolutionary power of relationships and networks, because the way we work must mirror the world we want to create.
Individually, Fellows are innovative, optimistic, and impact-driven. Collectively, the Fellowship community is constantly adapting to provide relevant resources, connections, and solidarity.
To date, there are over 100 Roddenberry Fellows across the country, working on critical issues from immigrant detention and voting rights to healthcare and domestic abuse. Together, their collective efforts are creating a more diverse, inclusive country for all of us.
Who we’re looking for
The Roddenberry Fellowship is for US-based individuals working toward social justice who meet the following criteria:
Fellows are an integral part of the community they’re working with
The work addresses the inherent intersectionality of entrenched issues
The approach builds on existing knowledge in a new and potentially impactful way
Fellows are seeking a community of their peers - and have capacity to contribute to the community as well
Fellows are founder/co-founder of their org and are currently in key decision-making role (ED, CEO, etc)
Organizations have <$2mil annual budgets and have been in operation for <4 years
Roddenberry Fellows are an extraordinary group of activists, leaders, and disruptors who are responding with urgency and creativity to structural inequities, in a climate of increasing polarization and fear.
How it works
The Roddenberry Fellowship application process has three rounds. This allows us to ask for minimal information in the first round, and invite a smaller group to share more information in the second round, ideally saving candidates time and energy. The final round consists of short, virtual interviews that allow us to get to know candidates, and candidates to share more about their work as well as ask questions about the program.
All eligible applicants and nominees are invited to submit a short application via the online portal from May 18 to June 23, 2023.
A select group of applicants will be invited to share more information about themselves and their work via the online portal from July 31 to August 25, 2023.
Up to 50 applicants will be invited for virtual interviews through the month of October.
Each Fellow’s initiative has significant potential to create lasting change, and yet each Fellow is so much more than their work. To this end, the Fellowship is designed to make sure that Fellows get the resources they need to move their initiative forward as well as feel personally supported in the process. This holistic approach benefits from the deep Fellowship network, and allows the ongoing cultivation of a cross-sector network of activists, community leaders, advocates, and changemakers.
LA retreat Fellows meet in person in Los Angeles for a facilitated week of sharing stories, identifying potential collaborations, and building the foundation for deeper connections and relationships.
Fellowship year Throughout the year, Fellows continue to deepen the connections with each other and alums through monthly calls, weekly emails, learning groups and local, in-person meet-ups. Fellows also meet with coaches and external experts who can support their work.
Fall retreat At the fall retreat, alumni join the current cohort to mix and mingle, participate in peer-led sessions, and meet people working in the local community.
Alumni network As the first year of the Fellowship draws to a close, Fellows are welcomed into the alumni network, and, through ongoing engagement, have access to benefits ranging from coaching to conference panels to Q&A sessions with funders and experts.
The diversity of our country is our greatest strength, and yet it’s at the crux of today’s most heated debates, harmful policies, and divisive politics.
The Roddenberry Fellowship is rooted in Gene Roddenberry’s belief that we must not just “accept differences between ourselves and our ideas, but enthusiastically welcome and enjoy them.” What could be possible if we embrace our differences? If disagreements were seen as a beginning instead of the end? If all people were “enthusiastically welcomed” and allowed to thrive?
The Roddenberry Fellowship embodies Gene’s vision of a more diverse, optimistic, inclusive world, one that is rooted in trusting relationships and honest conversations and a belief that a better world is possible, but only through connection and collaboration.
Frequently Asked Questions
What initiatives or individuals are eligible to apply?
Individuals must be founders/co-founders and current in the CEO, ED, or equivalent position within their organization, and their organizations must be <$2mil annual budget and <4 years in existence.
Individuals must be over the age of 18 and a United States citizen, permanent resident, DACA recipient, or current visa holder who resides in the 50 United States and its territories.
All proposals must be for charitable, educational, or scientific purposes and may not be for lobbying or legislative purposes. 501c4 organizations are not eligible, but if you have a 501c3 arm of the organization, you can apply as long as your work is legally separate from the 501c4 and the grant is earmarked as such. Please see our Rules for more information.
What are the key Fellowship dates?
Here are important dates to keep in mind. Please note: all fellows must be available to attend both retreats in full:
- Round 1 application: May 18 to June 23, 2023
- Round 2 application: July 31 to August 25, 2023
- LA retreat: February 26 to March 1, 2024
- Fall retreat: September 26 – 29, 2024
What are the benefits to being a Fellow?
All fellows receive a $50k flexible grant, a team of coaches to work with throughout the year, two all-expenses paid retreats in the spring and fall, a cohort of peers and a network of over 100 passionate changemakers across the country.
How must the $50K be used by the Fellows?
Fellowship funds will be awarded as grants to achieve impact described in the application, including but not limited to salaries, project development, and technology. Funding received from The Roddenberry Foundation must be used for the project’s purposes as stated in the application.
Do initiatives need to be incorporated as a 501c3?
No, 501c3 status is not a requirement and we accept applications from individuals who are affiliated with movements, institutions, networks, or loosely structured organizations. (Please consider consulting a tax professional to learn how this grant could affect your taxes. The rules vary depending on how you plan to receive funds.) However, The Roddenberry Foundation does not fund 501c4 organizations. Please see our Rules for more information.
What stage of initiative are you looking for?
We are looking for organizations that are in the pilot to growth stage. This means organizations that have been around for four years or less. This allows fellows to connect with others who are leading organizations at similar developmental stages, and allows us to focus our resources on supporting earlier-stage organizations.
My initiative has been around for less than four years but does not have its own legal status. Can I apply?
Yes. Less than four years is a guideline to determine the “stage” of your organization’s growth. Not having an official legal status may or may not be a way to measure the age of an organization/initiative. Use your best judgment for this eligibility: if your organization has been working informally for ten years – this might not be the best fit. But if you’ve been working consistently for less than four years but don’t yet have a registered status, you are still welcome to apply. Fiscally sponsored organizations can be considered for the Fellowship.
How has the Fellowship changed from last year?
The Fellowship is still focused on making the U.S. a more equitable and just place for all. But we are no longer limiting proposals to targeted issue areas. The core of the Fellowship is unchanged. We are still focusing on five key issue areas – Civil Rights, Immigration & Refugee Rights, LGBTQIA and Women’s Rights, Environmental Protection, and Health & Wellness – and the duration, benefits, and award remain are the same. We have made changes to the applications and adjusted the criteria for the Fellowship to refine the process by which Fellows are selected.
If I applied previously, can I apply again this year?
Yes, absolutely. There’s actually a question on the application where you can tell us how your ideas and initiative have evolved since you last applied.
Will applicant information be kept private?
Can I apply as a team or with my co-founder?
While we recognize that this work is collaborative, the Fellowship is designed to support individual activists and organizers. We know you work with other amazing people and that social change is a collective endeavor, but you must apply as an individual.
Why is there a $2M budget cap?
We created a $2M organizational budget cap to help us find leaders of early-stage ideas, new projects, or long-standing but smaller organizations. We are interested in individuals and organizations that are on the cusp of growth rather than larger, more established organizations that generally have more access to resources.
What are you looking for?
Generally speaking, we are interested in ambitious, creative initiatives likely to affect a significant portion of a target population, geography, or community. Hyper-local initiatives or those small in scope are great but not aligned with our Fellowship goals. You also don’t need to be well-known or have 50K twitter followers – we want individuals with a track record of success, a bold vision for the future, and initiatives with potential for large-scale change.
Can I get feedback on last year’s application? Can I reapply with pieces of last year’s application?
Unfortunately, due to the volume of applications we receive, we are not able to provide individual feedback on applications. Our program is competitive. Oftentimes, this means that even strong applicants are turned away.
Because we know the kind of investment required for these proposals, we do our best to make sure that re-application is as easy as possible. Please contact us if you need access to your previous application.
Can you explain your funding limitations, as it pertains to advocacy and lobbying?
The laws around what private foundations can fund regarding advocacy and lobbying are complicated. One of the core regulations though is that private foundations cannot earmark funds for lobbying. While Roddenberry Fellowship grants are general operating, the fellowship application explicitly asks what the grant will be used for. So if lobbying is a core part of a fellowship application, and that application is awarded a fellowship, that could be seen as the foundation earmarking funds for lobbying. To that – we strongly discourage applications that are primarily focused on lobbying. If you want more information on what exactly is advocacy or lobbying, the regulations around funding either, or how to get grants from private foundations if you engage in any sort of advocacy work, this is a great place to start: