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The Ford Philanthropy Fellowship

Empowering dedicated entrepreneurs to amplify impactful ventures.


Applications for the program are now closed.

Meet the 2024 Ford Philanthropy Fellows

                       “Maya Zaken, 2022 Ford Philanthropy Fellowship”

The Ford Philanthropy Fellowship is an intensive venture and leadership development program designed to empower entrepreneurs and community leaders to elevate the impactful ventures they are building. This fully-funded virtual program aims to equip these next-generation entrepreneurs with the essential skills and hands-on experience necessary to enhance their ventures, access invaluable networks and resources, and drive transformative change in their communities.

This is a fully-funded program thanks to the support of the Ford Philanthropy.

Dates & Details

  • Dates: 16-week program with weekly programming.
  • Format: Weekly virtual workshops with localized gatherings and events when possible (6-8 hours per week time commitment).
  • Immersive: 2-week virtual Immersive at the start of the program.
  • Training: Weekly expert-led modules covering Foundations, Data & Metrics, Go-To-Market, Funding, Team Management, and Pitch.
  • Impact Series: Renowned leaders, entrepreneurs, and practitioners join the fellowships we empower to share their entrepreneurial journey and experience, as well as mentor the Fellows. See previous Impact Series Speakers here.
  • Basecamp: 2-day workshops designed and led by Fellows for their own stakeholders and communities.
  • Summit: Culminating community event where select Fellows pitch to local leaders, funders, and entrepreneurs.
  • Venture Development Stipend: Venture development stipends will be distributed among chosen Ford Philanthropy Fellows based on their progress and impact throughout the Fellowship.

Who You Are & What You Do

  • You are at the helm of a 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 mobility, transportation, or accessibility.
  • 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.

Sign Up for Updates Here

Program Elements

The Ford Philanthropy Fellowship offers award-winning training, dedicated mentorship, and a dynamic peer community. We are here to equip you with the skills and insights necessary to supercharge your venture and make a lasting impact.


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 Ford Philanthropy 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.

Learn More

On average each Ford Philanthropy Fellow leading a venture impacts 2,234 individuals in their communities.

Ford Philanthropy Fellows are Making an Impact

41 Fellows have created impact for over 950 entrepreneurs, through the Basecamps they run around the world and initiatives they help lead.


Holistic Wellness

Yasmar Cruz ’22, United States

Yasmar Cruz is a Puerto Rican born artist and educator based in New York City. She is the recipient of the Community Impact Award, for her holistic wellness initiative dedicated to BIPOC women at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Yasmar is also the Founder of Danzartes, and her mission is to equip women with the skills and techniques they need to better their emotional and physical health through a combinination of yoga, dance, meditation, and coaching.


Matias Acosta ’22, Argentina

Matias Acosta is a Latin American social entrepreneur and thought leader from Mar del Plata, Argentina. He is the Founder of Shaping Horizons, a social edtech venture that upskills young people and corporate talent using research-based e-learning materials and team projects with impact. Matias has published 50+ articles and been cited 3,000+ times during his appointments at the University of Cambridge and UNDP.


Maya Zaken ’22, South Africa

Maya Zaken is an innovative entrepreneur from Knysna, South Africa. She holds an Honors degree in Economic Science with a background in philosophy and politics, that led her to engage in the human and sustainable development space. Maya is currently setting up a Black Soldier Fly farm called Philafeed, which aims to use profit for the purpose of driving circular economic activities, promote organic waste recycling processes, and create a sustainable agri-feed market.

Ford Philanthropy Fellows Summit

A high-profile event where Fellows share their impact and progress with a global audience

The Ford Philanthropy Fellowship is a program designed to equip 40 rising 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.