About the Program

Learning, Skill Building, and Networking

Fellows participate in an intensive immersion experience designed to address the challenges of community building in today's world. In partnership with the Picker Center for Executive Education at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs and Yale University, the fellows attend classes, lectures and interactive workshops in nonprofit management, leadership, strategic planning, finance and budget, public relations, volunteer recruiting, governance, fundraising and global trends. The fellows also enjoy opportunities for small-group discussions about vision, strategy and management issues particular to their organizations. In addition, 92nd Street Y offers lectures and workshops on strengthening professional partnerships, building alliances and networks, honing presentation skills, improving grant writing and diversity training.

Vital counterparts to the classroom experience are the out-of-classroom visits to model nonprofits throughout New York City. In the past, fellows have visited nonprofits focused on human rights, environmental sustainability, health care, microfinance, conflict resolution, youth education, homelessness, substance addiction, community building and more. We also tailor certain visits to complement and enhance each fellow's professional interests.

A distinctive feature of the Ford Fellowship is that we encourage participating community leaders to push the boundaries of their notions of partnership. The fellows are encouraged to think creatively and boldly about building alliances with business, government and other nonprofit organizations. Fellows have meetings with established academic, business and diplomatic representatives and government leaders. In the past, fellows have enjoyed unique opportunities to meet privately with the CEO of one of the world's largest multinational corporations; a former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury; well-regarded experts in global and current affairs; the head of an organization that strives to end homelessness in New York City; the principal of a model New York City public school committed to building a multicultural community of teachers, parents and students; and the director of a nonprofit supporting environmental sustainability and justice in the Bronx.

The experience is further enhanced by the Fellows' residency at 92nd Street Y, an institution founded in 1874 that has grown to serve over 300,000 people annually. At once a school, a lecture hall, a performance space and a place for gathering community, 92nd Street Y is a nonprofit organization that is unique in the world and vital to the cultural life of New York City. As the world's first global Jewish community and cultural center, 92nd Street Y serves people of all faiths, races, religions, nationalities, ethnicities and socio-economic groups. Fellows have the opportunity to meet with 92nd Street Y staff experts, board members and community partners.


Specialized tours of New York City and an array of diverse ethnic, cultural and community offerings enrich the fellows' American experience. In the past, fellows have experienced tours of Harlem, Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn through the lens of some of New York City's most well-known tour guides. In turn, fellows showcase their home countries with cultural presentations. In addition, each fellow enjoys an evening in the home of a Jewish 92nd Street Y family as a guest for Shabbat dinner, a treasured facet of Jewish cultural heritage. Past fellows have regarded this intimate evening as an unprecedented opportunity to deepen cross-cultural interchange. Toward the end of the fellowship, fellows take an overnight trip to Ford Motor Company World Headquarters in Dearborn, MI, meet key Ford executives and gain insight into the unique intersection of corporate and nonprofit interests and goals.

Participating in a Global Network

Before and after their residency at 92nd Street Y, fellows are in contact with 92nd Street Y staff and with one another. Through email communities, distance learning, electronic newsletters and announcements and teleconferencing, fellows become part of a global network of community leaders. Alumni independently organize cross-country conferences and workshops, and are continually developing means to share with one another ideas and best practices.