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Ford Fund Fellowship

Equipping advanced next-gen entrepreneurs to scale impactful ventures.

The application for the program is closed.

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A Lifetime of Impact Begins

The Ford Fund Fellowship is a program designed to equip 25 next-gen entrepreneurs with the skills, resources, and experience to scale the impactful ventures they are building. Ford Fund Fellows will learn advanced skills in entrepreneurship and leadership, have the opportunity to earn seed funding, garner experience, and build a global network, as they lay the foundation to empower many more individuals and transform their communities.

This program is offered with virtual and in-person components that allows fellows to take advantage of the global cohort while also focusing on creating local impact within their communities. Virtual programming includes Impact Series, workshops, and weekly check-ins. In-person programming includes Fellow-led Basecamps and a Fellow-led meetup.

$25,000 in seed funding will be distributed among the Ford Fund Fellows based on progress and impact throughout the Fellowship

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Applications for the Fall 23 Ford Fund Fellowship will launch in early Summer.

Is the Fellowship for you?

This is for advanced, next-generation entrepreneurs building impactful ventures that create scalable innovations. Ideal applicants will demonstrate a proven track record of innovation, entrepreneurship, and leadership in their community.

We are looking for applicants from United States, China, Mexico, South Africa, and Argentina with ventures in the Product-Fit or Scaling stage. 

Ford Fund applicants must be able to commit to be part of the 16-week program. There is a 2-week intensive (20–25 hours per week) followed by 14-weeks of weekly programming (5-8 hours per week). Ford Fund Fellows will be given a stipend and spend an additional 80–100 hours implementing a 2-day intensive program called Basecamp.

This is a fully-funded fellowship thanks to the generous support of Ford Fund.

2021 Ford Fund Fellowship Impact Stats

Ford Fund Fellows have scaled impact organizations tackling various social and environmental issues, have been named as a Forbes 30 under 30 Social Impact entrepreneurs, and have hosted Basecamps impacting other promising entrepreneurs across the United States, China, Kenya, South Africa, and Mexico 


applications received


fellows selected


countries represented


entrepreneurs impacted

Meet Ford Fund Fellows

Ford Fund Fellows have scaled impact organizations tackling various social and environmental issues, have been named as a Forbes 30 under 30 Social Impact entrepreneurs, and have hosted 12 Basecamps impacting 460 other promising entrepreneurs across the United States, China, Kenya, South Africa, and Mexico 

Program Structure

The Fellowship begins with a 2-week intensive Accelerator that will focus on:

Building Community

Community is one of the pillars of the Ford Fund Fellowship experience. A diverse cohort of young leaders and entrepreneurs form partnerships, collaborations, and further their growth and impact as leaders in their community.

Skill Development

Including fundraising, team building, transformative communication, growth mindset, courage, resilience, creativity, and leadership. Ford Fund Fellows will be guided through the process of overcoming key challenges faced during the process of becoming transformative leaders and entrepreneurs.

Basecamp Training

Each Ford Fund Fellow is trained and receives a stipend and logistical support to lead a three-day training (called Basecamp) in their home community to empower at least 25 additional entrepreneurial leaders.

After the 2-week Accelerator, the 14-week Fellowship begins, which includes:

  • Leading an in-person/local Basecamp in their respective community. A stipend will be given for logistical and administrative costs.
  • Joining a monthly All Hands on Deck meeting that includes skill development workshops and opportunities to build community amongst the cohort.
  • $25,000 in seed funding will be distributed amongst the 25 Ford Fund Fellow based on progress and impact throughout the Fellowship.
  • Regularly attending Impact Series with the world’s leading entrepreneurs and practitioners. Past Impact Series Teachers include recognized leaders of Nobel Peace Prize winning movements, the youngest person to run for U.S. Congress, and the inventor of Google’s self-driving car.
  • Joining a pod with other Fellows from their respective regions and checking in regularly with each other via one-on-one meetings.

At the end of the Fellowship, Ford Fund Fellows participate in a high-profile Summit event to share their progress and impact with a global audience.

Mike Schmidt, Director of Economic Mobility and Global Community Development of Ford Motor Company Fund, was the Keynote Speaker for the Ford Fund Fellowship 2022 Summit.

Application Process

    1. Complete the online application: The online application contains 5 short essay questions.
    2. Your application will be reviewed: Applications will be reviewed within 2-weeks of submission. Applications are accepted and reviewed on a rolling basis.
    3. You will be invited to an interview: Applicants moving forward in the process will be invited to a 20-minute Zoom interview.
    4. Enrollment process: We will send out final admission decision and enrollment agreement within 2-weeks of the interview.

Ford Motor Company Fund is the corporate foundation and philanthropic arm of Ford Motor Company. Watson Institute is the leading accelerator for next-generation impact entrepreneurs. Watson Institute shares Ford Fund’s belief that the next generation of leaders and entrepreneurs can transform their communities by joining a committed group of peers and mentors, receiving training and seed funding, and building a global network. Through the Ford Fund Fellowship, we are excited to scale the impact of Ford Fund and Watson Institute’s partnership to date by empowering 25 Fellows and over 750 young leaders and entrepreneurs globally.

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