The 2019-2020 Obama Foundation Scholars Program

The Obama Foundation Scholars Program at Columbia University brings together rising leaders from around the world who have demonstrated a commitment to finding solutions to challenges in their communities, countries and regions. Over the course of an academic year, the Obama Foundation Scholars will have the opportunity to deepen their knowledge and skills and to build new capacities and networks that will accelerate their impact in their home countries.

The inaugural cohort is comprised of twelve accomplished leaders, who are participating in an immersive program that brings together academic, skills-based and experiential learning, designed by Columbia University in consultation with the Obama Foundation. Scholars participate in a required course, which will run for the length of the academic year, as well as additional courses offered by Columbia University that are relevant to their specific field or values-based leadership, or that fill in gaps in their previous studies. The program also takes advantage of the unique opportunities for engagement that come with being at one of the world’s most important centers of research and with being in the City of New York.

In addition, Scholars participate in one-of-a-kind experiences led by the Obama Foundation, including robust networking, mentorship, service activities and values-based leadership development, offering them a chance to learn from some of the world’s most innovative leaders and to build connections with the Obama Foundation and with Obama Foundation Scholars at the University of Chicago.

“We are proud to be a partner with the Obama Foundation in launching the Obama Foundation Scholars at Columbia to advance our shared mission of developing leaders who are not only dedicated to making a difference, but also have the intellectual and practical skills to turn their ideas into action.

Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger

Obama Foundation Scholars at Columbia are part of Columbia World Projects, a new initiative that aims to systematically bring university research out into the world in the form of projects that will have a significant and lasting positive impact on people’s lives and will help guide the way to solutions to intractable problems, while additionally enriching research and scholarship.

Upon completion of the program, Obama Foundation Scholars, empowered by their experience, are expected to return to the regions where they have been working and continue along a path of service, either through their full-time job or volunteer opportunities. The purpose of the program is to help Obama Foundation Scholars take the connections and skills they acquire during the program and apply them for the benefit of their communities, countries, and regions. It is our expectation that Obama Foundation Scholars will remain engaged with the Obama Foundation after the conclusion of the program.

Eligibility Requirements

The Obama Foundation Scholars Program at Columbia University seeks rising leaders from around the world who meet the following criteria:

  • Have a proven commitment to service and leadership within a community, region or country outside the United States, coupled with a demonstrated commitment to return to these communities following their completion of the program and apply their enhanced training, skills and connections on a long-term basis for the benefit of these communities
  • Are emerging leaders who have made meaningful contributions to their field and are now at a “tipping point” in their careers
  • Are fluent in English (verbal, written and spoken)
  • Have the ability and inclination to positively shape the future of their community
  • Have a demonstrated commitment to humility, integrity, inclusivity, stewardship, fearlessness, imagination and teamwork

Application

A complete application, submitted entirely online, includes the following materials:

Complete online application form

Access the online application form.

To apply click here

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