The BMO Fellowship is a fully-funded venture and leadership program designed to provide comprehensive support to highly promising, diverse sustainability entrepreneurs and leaders. It offers award-winning training in entrepreneurship, sustainability, and leadership to help advance their sustainability-focused ventures and actively contribute to solving their communities’ most pressing challenges. This Fellowship is specifically intended for individuals from historically underserved communities within BMO’s reach who possess lived experience with the challenges they are determined to address.
This is a fully-funded program thanks to the support of BMO.
Dates & Details
- Dates: March 18th to July 2nd, 2024 (16-weeks of programming).
- Format: Participate in weekly virtual workshops, with localized gatherings and events when possible. These workshops are held on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursdays from 8:30am to 10:30am MT, requiring a 6-8 hours per week time commitment.
- Immersive: A 2-week virtual Immersive is held starting on March 18th, 2024, requiring a time commitment of approximately 10-15 hours each week. This Immersive serves as a foundational experience, setting the stage for the fellowship’s community-oriented and cohort-driven journey.
- Training: Join weekly expert-led modules covering subjects including Foundations, Data & Metrics, Go-To-Market, Funding, Team Management, and Pitch.
- Impact Series: Renowned sustainability leaders, entrepreneurs, and experts join the fellowships we empower to share their entrepreneurial journey and experience, as Impact Series Teachers, as well as mentor the Fellows. See previous Impact Series Speakers here.
- Basecamp: 1 to 2 day workshop designed and led by Fellows for their own stakeholders and communities. Learn more below.
- Summit: Culminating community event where Fellows pitch to local leaders, funders, and entrepreneurs (July 2nd 2024).
- Venture Development Stipend: A total pool of $15,000 will be distributed among select BMO Fellows as a venture development stipend based on progress and impact throughout the Fellowship.
- Who You Are:
- You are a BIPOC, woman, or Native American/Indigenous entrepreneur or community leader deeply committed to creating sustainable, scalable impact in your community.
- You are at the helm of a sustainability-focused social impact venture or community endeavor in its initial stages, showcasing a history of making a difference. Ideally, your venture is in the space of environmental sustainability.
- You have an entrepreneurial spirit, a growth mindset, and are driven to grow as an effective leader within your community. The ideal venture stage for this fellowship are those in the Problem-Solution Fit or Product-Market Fit phases, with engaged customers or beneficiaries, and demonstrated outcomes in both impact and revenue.
- Where You Create Impact: You are located across BMO’s mid-west footprint which includes Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Oklahoma, North Dakota and South Dakota. While BMO is located across North America, this fellowship will focus on the U.S. mid-west region. Preference will be given to applicants from:
- What You Are Looking For: You are looking for expert-guided entrepreneurial training, a community of entrepreneurs to give you feedback that improves your venture, and a wide-reaching mentorship network to enhance your leadership abilities and the impact of your venture.
What You Will Accomplish
Thanks to BMO’s generous sponsorship of the BMO Fellowship powered by Watson Institute, the Watson Institute team will provide you with a comprehensive roadmap to guide the growth and scalability of your work and impact. You will gain the skills to construct and refine your pitch, and you’ll have the opportunity to present it at the high-profile Summit event. Additionally, you will facilitate an impactful workshop and training session (known as a Basecamp) in your community for your stakeholders, backed by a stipend, playbook, and team support to bring your vision to life.
Application Process & Timeline
1. Applications Submitted: Complete the online application. This application should take approximately 45 minutes to fill out. The final deadline for application submissions is January 31st, 2024. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis after the deadline.
2. First Round Review: Our Admissions Committee diligently reviews all applications, seeking entrepreneurs who demonstrate strong leadership qualities and ventures that are both innovative and scalable. Applications received after the deadline will be assessed on a rolling basis as needed.
3. Interview: Qualified applicants will receive invitations for a 20-minute one-on-one Zoom interview. This interview allows us to delve deeper into your motivations for pursuing the fellowship and to gain a better understanding of your venture. Interviews will commence during the week of January 3rd, 2024.
4. Admissions Committee Review: The most promising applicant profiles will be shared with our external Admissions Committee for their final review and selection.
5. Acceptances Announced: Notifications of acceptance will be sent out during the week of February 15th, 2024.
6. Fellows Confirm & Enroll: The final step to complete your enrollment is to confirm your commitment to the program. Upon confirmation, you will receive an invitation to participate in a “Meet the Cohort Webinar” event leading up to the program’s commencement. The program begins March 18th, 2024.
The BMO Fellowship offers award-winning training, dedicated mentorship, and a dynamic peer community. We are here to to equip you with the skills and insights necessary to supercharge your venture and make a lasting impact. The workshops, speakers, mentors, and community support for this fellowship will be adapted and customized to serve those leading sustainability focused ventures.
Venture Acceleration & Leadership Training
Some of the practical entrepreneurial & leadership centric workshops include the following:
- Team Management for Impactful Organizations
- Data & Metrics
- Marketing & Personal Branding
- Impact Focused Sales
Community & Network Building
A diverse cohort of entrepreneurs, small business owners, and nonprofit founders will form partnerships, collaborations, and further their growth and impact during and after the program. Community building activities include:
- Engagement with Watson Institute alumni
- Self-organized Fellow meet-ups
- Basecamp training and events
Mentorship & Collaboration
Fellows are provided with multiple mentorship opportunities from business leaders, venture capitalists, and enterprise executives. Mentorship engagements include:
- Preceptor Advisory Board
- Impact Speaker Series
- Mentor Bonanza
Pay the Impact Forward: Empower Your Communities through Basecamps
On average each Fellow leading a venture impacts 32,130 individuals in their communities.
Fellows & Alumni Making an Impact
Watson Institute’s 447 Alumni from 68 countries have raised over $185 million in capital for their ventures, created over 1,900 part or full-time jobs, and impacted over 10 million people around the world through initiatives they help lead.
Ideal candidates for the BMO Fellowship are entrepreneurs or community leaders with an advanced-stage social impact venture or community initiative who have a proven track record of impact, entrepreneurship, and leadership in their community and around the globe. Applicants who are from or are working in the following states will be given priority: Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, and Indiana. In addition, we are seeking entrepreneurs who are BIPOC, women, or Native American People who are working within the sustainability space.
Fellows can earn a venture development stipend of up to $4,000, which is subject to review based on their attendance, participation, and performance throughout the program. In addition, all Fellows are eligible to receive a stipend to support the implementation of their Basecamp.
We receive a high volume of applications each year and have a 3% selectivity rate across all the fellowships we power.
Fellows facilitate a Basecamp event in their communities during their time in the program. They will also have the option to have meet ups with other program Fellows in their locations.
We understand the substantial interest in our program and strive to provide prompt responses. Decisions will be dispatched during the week of February 15th, 2024. Your patience during this process is greatly appreciated.
Unfortunately, we are not able to consider applications outside the geographies listed above. However, we run numerous programs a year and are likely to have an opportunity to you in the future. We encourage you to check back regularly and reach out to a Watson Institute team member for more information. You can also visit our Programs Page for more information.
For all other questions, please reach out to Casey Field at firstname.lastname@example.org.
BMO, or Bank of Montreal, is one of Canada’s leading financial institutions, with a rich history dating back to 1817. As the 8th largest bank in North America, BMO offers a comprehensive range of banking and financial services to individuals, businesses, and institutions. With a focus on customer-centric solutions, BMO provides services such as personal and commercial banking, wealth management, investment banking, and capital markets activities, serving millions of customers across Canada, the United States, and around the world. In addition to its financial services, BMO is also dedicated to making a positive impact through philanthropy, with a specific focus on supporting sustainability initiatives. Launched in 2023, the two-year BMO Fellowship powered by Watson Institute will support highly promising, diverse entrepreneurs and leaders to advance their sustainability focused ventures and drive forward solutions to the most significant challenges facing our world; the BMO Fellowship will support 15 Fellows and at least 225 Basecamp Participants each year.