World Learning Celebrates 2016 Advancing Leaders Fellows

On November 3, members of the World Learning community came together at the Rubin Museum in New York City to honor the recipients of the 2016 Advancing Leaders Fellowship, which funds social entrepreneurship projects around the globe.”

All six recipients of the award are alumni of a various World Learning programs and have demonstrated leadership, a commitment to positive social change, and proposed a viable project to implement in their local communities.

The fellows — who are from six different countries — were chosen from among more than 50 alumni who participated in a two-month online training course in project design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation, and proposal writing. They will receive funding for their social innovation projects and will be paired with mentors to guide them as they implement their vision.

At the awards ceremony, World Learning CEO Donald Steinberg called the fellows “inspiring, passionate and innovative people committed to making positive social change”.

He added “Our alumni are positive proof that our programs make a difference around the world.”

World Learning established the Advancing Leaders Fellowship in 2013 with seed funding from former trustee Judy Huret and her husband Robert. The fellowship is now funded by a generous grant from the Newman’s Own Foundation and donations from current trustees and alumni.

Before the award ceremony, fellows had the opportunity to discuss their projects with members of the World Learning Board, Global Advisory Council, and other guests during an informal reception.

Alumna of SIT CONTACT Peacebuilding Program Aditi Rao is a poet, writer, and educator from India who spent the last decade working in youth development and peacebuilding across India, Mexico, and the U.S. She runs a project in New Delhi that brings together teenagers from across class, caste, religion, gender, disability, and refugee status to teach each other about the issues in their lives in order to co-create a vision for change.

“For me, the Advancing Leaders Fellowship is about taking this idea we’ve tested and played around with for a few years and turning it into a sustainable program,” she said.

One of the core ideas is to create dialogue and friendship across identity lines and for them to be able to stand up and talk about the challenges they face in their communities like violence, abuse and discrimination.

“The biggest thing I got out of CONTACT South Asia was just these amazing friendships with women from Pakistan and Kashmir and parts of the world my country is constantly in conflict with,” she added.

Dr. Hein Paing Htoo Chit, an alumnus of the Institute for Political and Civic Engagement in Myanmar (iPACE), will focus on a project of youth entrepreneurship for social justice. His goal is to engage marginalized communities and foster economic development in states where young people lack opportunity.

At iPace, he studied organizational development, strategic planning and training for trainers of civic engagement.

“Because of my experience with iPace and my experience with ALF I was able to combine the experiential social entrepreneurship training with the business training to train youth to become social entrepreneurs,” he explained at the event.

The other Advancing Leaders Fellows are:

  • Anne Outwater (Experiment in International Living); project: Beekeeping entrepreneur partnership to get young unemployed men working.
  • Arta Uka (Kosovo Transformational Leadership Scholarships and Partnerships Program); project: Improving the quality of life for people living with a stoma.
  • Johanny Amaya (Global UGRAD) project: Empowering orphaned youth through English language and leadership training
  • Nya Holder (International Honors Program) project: Developing a sense of agency among young high school-aged women in the Bronx through mindfulness and creative self-expression

“The large number of proposals made it very challenging for the selection committee to choose only a few for the fellowships, noted Patricia Harrison, director professional exchange programs, adding this year’s Advancing Leaders Fellows demonstrated “a bold vision balanced by careful planning”.

“Our selection represents a vote of confidence in each of the fellows for what they can achieve,” added Harrison.



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World Learning empowers people, communities, and institutions to create a more peaceful and just world.