Bush Fellowship Program

Bush Fellowship Program

A Bush Fellowship is recognition of extraordinary achievement and a bet on extraordinary potential.

The Bush Foundation is excited about and committed to supporting and developing leaders who are increasingly better equipped and networked to effectively lead change. These leaders think bigger and think differently about what is possible in their communities. Bush Fellows possess a vision for strengthening the common good within the region and are devoted to making that vision a reality.

The Fellowship is distinctive in its flexibility, allowing Fellows to articulate what they need to become more effective leaders – whether through a self-designed learning experience or an academic program. It provides them with the resources and support to make it happen.

Since 1965, the Bush Foundation has worked to develop the leadership capacity of the region by making investments in more than 2,200 people through its Fellowship programs.

Meet the 2016 Bush Fellows

2015 Bush Fellows

Are You Ready To Be A Bush Fellow? Video #3

Are You Ready To Be A Bush Fellow? Video #2

Are you ready to be a Bush Fellow?

Meet the 2014 Bush Fellows

Meet the 2014 Bush Fellows
What we fund

We seek active learners who possess outstanding character and demonstrate a record of success.

There are two ways to use a Bush Fellowship:

  • To start, make progress toward or complete an academic degree.
  • In a self-designed learning program where the learning experiences including conferences, classes, seminars, etc. are chosen by the Bush Fellow. (Some government and elected officials and their spouses are prohibited by the IRS from pursuing this option.)
Fellowship experience

The Fellowship is an opportunity for Bush Fellows to increase their capacity for leadership by pursuing learning experiences that will increase their knowledge and develop important leadership skills and attributes, especially in the areas of communications, self-awareness, creativity, cultural competency and cross-sector leadership.

A Bush Fellowship is intended to give Fellows access to learning experiences that wouldn’t otherwise be available to them. We expect the experiences to result in Fellows having an even greater vision for what is possible and a deeper commitment to taking action.

Fellowship amounts and terms

Bush Fellows are awarded up to $100,000 to be used over 12 to 24 months.

Fellowship funds can be used to cover expenses such as living expenses, tuition, fees for workshops and seminars, travel and equipment purchases that are necessary to carry out the fellowship.


Applicants to the Bush Fellowship Program:

  • Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
  • Must be at least 24 years old at the time of the application deadline.
  • Must have lived for one continuous year immediately prior to the application deadline in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota or one of the 23 Native nations that shares the same geographic area.
  • Cannot have previously received a Bush Fellowship, Bush Artist Fellowship, Bush Leadership Fellowship, Bush Medical Fellowship or Enduring Vision Award.

For full eligibility requirements see our Fellowship Information Packet in the “How to Apply” section.

The Foundation seeks leaders who:

  • Have a demonstrated success record
  • Have an outstanding character
  • Have an active-learner mentality
  • Could benefit from intensive development through self-designed or academic programs
  • Think bigger and think differently about what is possible in their communities
How to apply

We will begin accepting applications for the 2017 Fellowship on August 30, 2016 through September 29, 2016.  

We have a two-stage application process. The initial application is online and relatively brief, with more detailed information and phone references if the applicant becomes a semi-finalist. 


Application questions will be available for reference on August 1, 2016.

Applications will be accepted August 30, 2016 through September 29, 2016. 

Mandatory in-person interview dates (for finalists): February 20, 23 and 27, 2017

Fellows will be announced in March of 2017.

Other dates related to selection stages, interviews and reference calls are in development.

Selection criteria

For the purpose of granting 2017 Fellowships, the selection committee will consider the following:


  • Record of success - Makes the most of opportunities they are given regardless of where they are in their career. Continuously finds ways to have more impact inside their job and/or outside their job. Is persistent and resilient in the face of difficulty.
  • Outstanding character - Admired and respected by others. Demonstrates integrity and generosity of spirit.
  • Active Learner - Recognizes own strengths and weaknesses. Seeks and incorporates feedback. Has an inquiring mind, actively searches out new ideas, experiences and perspectives to broaden themselves and become more effective. 


  • Impact - Has the vision and the passion to be an extraordinary leader and the capacity to make a far greater impact than they are making now.
  • Focus - Committed to working to benefit people and communities in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and the 23 Native Nations. Fellows are required to live in the region served by the Foundation during their Fellowship, unless they are enrolled in a degree-granting program that temporarily takes them outside the region.


  • Scope - Clearly articulates how the Fellowship will transform their life/career trajectory.
Selection process

There are three main stages in the Bush Fellowship selection process:

  1. A preliminary selection committee comprised of Foundation staff will select up to 60 semifinalists. We require applicants selected as semifinalists to provide more information about how they will use the Fellowship, a budget and references.

    The Bush Foundation may conduct formal background and public records checks on applicants who are invited to move forward to the second phase of the application process.
  2. A final selection committee comprised of community members, Foundation staff and Board members will select up to 36 finalists. We will assign each finalist a time for an in-person interview with the final selection committee that will take place in February 2017, in Saint Paul, Minnesota.
  3. The final selection committee comprised of community members, Foundation staff and Board members will select up to 24 Fellows.
We're here to help

Please contact the Leadership Team at 651-379-2249 or Fellowships@BushFoundation.org.