Bush Fellowship Program

Applications reopen June 30, 2015.

Bush Fellowship Program

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

The Bush Foundation is excited about and committed to supporting and developing more leaders who are better equipped and better 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 a better leader – 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 2015 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 leaders who are active learners of outstanding character and a record of success, and who could benefit from intensive development through self-designed or academic programs.

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 accessible. We expect the experience to result in the Fellow having an even greater vision for what is possible and a stronger commitment to taking action.

To learn more, sign up for a webinar about the 2016 Bush Fellowship Program. Space is limited to 250 people per webinar. Registration details are available at BushFoundation.org/events. Webinar dates and times are:

  • Thursday, June 11, noon to 1:00 p.m. Central
  • Tuesday, July 7, noon to 1:00 p.m. Central
  • Tuesday, July 21, noon to 1:00 p.m. Central
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 have a two-stage application process. The initial application is relatively brief, with more detailed information and phone references if the applicant becomes a semi-finalist. We accept applications for the Bush Fellowship Program through our online application system which will become available once we begin accepting applications.


Applications close Thursday, July 30, 2015 at noon Central.

Other important dates in the annual process include:

  • We select finalists -mid-October 2015
  • Semifinalists complete additional program application materials; we call references - late October to December 2015
  • We notify finalists - early February 2016
  • Finalists have in-person interviews with final selection panel - February 22-29, 2016
  • We select and announce Fellows - March 2016
Selection criteria

For the purpose of granting 2016 Fellowships, the selection committee will consider the following:


  • Record of success - Makes the most of opportunities regardless of where they are in their career.  Sets and meets goals beyond what others expect of them.  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.  Actively searches out new ideas, experiences and perspectives to broaden themselves and become more effective. 


  • Impact - Has the vision and the passion to be a transformative leader and to make a far greater impact than they are now.
  • Focus - Committed to working to benefit people and communities in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and the 23 Native Nations.


  • Scope - Clearly articulates how the Fellowship will transform their life/career trajectory.
  • Opportunity – Demonstrates how the Fellowship would make a meaningful difference in their life and ability to achieve their plan.
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 2016, in Saint Paul, Minnesota.
  3. The final selection committee comprised of community members, Foundation staff and Board members will select up to 24 Fellows.
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