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Sponsored by

BMO Fellowship

Equipping highly promising sustainability entrepreneurs who are driving solutions to their communities’ most significant environmental and sustainability challenges.


Applications for the program are now closed.

          Rochelle Keyhan, 2022 Bank of the West Fellow

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:
    • Wisconsin
    • Illinois
    • Indiana
    • Minnesota
  • 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.

Program Elements

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.

Pay the Impact Forward: Empower Your Communities through Basecamps

Grow your leadership skills, build local partnerships, and expand your impact by facilitating a Watson Institute Basecamp in your community.

Every Fellow receives training, a playbook, and a financial stipend to facilitate a Basecamp—a one to three day intensive workshop—in their community, empowering them to drive positive change locally. As a key deliverable of the BMO Fellowship, all Fellows will facilitate a Basecamp event during their time in the program. Fellows are empowered through their training to tailor the Basecamp structure and outcomes to their desired participant community.

Watson Institute Fellowships are designed to educate, empower, and drive impact, with each element of the program contributing towards the long-term impact of the BMO Fellows and their communities. Basecamps stand as a pillar of this journey. Fellows who have lead successful Basecamps have unlocked opportunities to new partnerships, additional funding avenues, media exposure, and have created a ripple effect of deeper impact within their communities.

Learn More

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. 



Nahja Clayton ’22, United States

Nahja Clayton is a well traveled Memphis, Tennessee native with a background in Finance, and a passion for the innovative sharing economy. She is the Co-founder of Smart Charge, a power bank rental service. Her mission is to aid in the reduction of E-waste by allowing individuals to rent portable chargers on the go.


Ricardo Rocha ’18, United States

Ricardo Rocha grew up in a food desert, Ricardo often asked himself why he and his family did not have access to adequate food if grocery delivery exists. This is the context out of which Bondadosa was created, were he is the Board President and Founder. Bondadosa, addresses the issues of poverty (unemployment and food desserts) and sustainability through local deliveries of healthy, affordable, and culturally appropriate groceries to primarily Latinx families.



Michele Madison ’22, United States

Michele Madison is from Tallahassee, Florida. She found her passion for science through her struggles growing up homeless and afflicted with chronic illness at a young age; her venture focuses on STEM and teacher professional development. Michele’s mission is to provide science education opportunities to children and solve major issues faced by the global society through comprehensive science education for all, sustainability and entrepreneurship, thereby fostering resilient communities.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the eligibility for this program?

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.

What are the eligibility requirements to receive a venture development stipend?

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.

How selective is this program?

We receive a high volume of applications each year and have a 3% selectivity rate across all the fellowships we power.

What do the in-person components entail?

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.

What is the application review timeline?

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.

Can I apply if my state is not listed under the priority geographies?

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.

I have another question and need assistance.

For all other questions, please reach out to Casey Field at

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.