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Bush Fellowship History

For the bulk of the Foundation’s existence it has supported the development of leaders and, by extension, their communities. Since 1965, the Foundation has supported the leadership development of over 2,200 Bush Fellows. In 2010, the Foundation launched the Bush Fellowship Program, which has just announced the most recent cohort of Bush Fellows. Below you can read about the programs that preceded it.

Bush Leadership Fellows Program

The Bush Leadership Fellows Program (BLF) grew out of founder Archibald Bush’s observation that if he’d had a mid-career opportunity to strengthen his skills and refocus, he could have been a more effective leader in the later part of his career. In the early part of the BLF program, fellowships focused mainly on starting or ending degree programs; as time progressed, the fellowships embraced the idea of self-directed study.  

The dollar amount of fellowships varied based on the number of months an applicant applied for. The fellowship included a monthly stipend and could also include tuition and travel funds. Between 1965 and 2010, the Bush Leadership Fellows Program invested more than $41 million in nearly 1,400 individuals.

Bush Artist Program

The Bush Artist Fellowships (BAF) began supporting individual artists in 1976. Between 1976 and 2010, BAF gave 476 fellowships to 431 artists totaling nearly $15 million. A 2006 evaluation of BAF showed that mature artists did not have the support they needed when they were often at the most creative point of their careers, and that artists in the Dakotas did not have access to the same infrastructure as Minnesota artists.  

As a result, in May 2007, Foundation expanded its programming around individual artists by creating the Bush Artist Program (BAP). BAP would continue to make fellowships to individual artists through the BAF program, but BAP also included two new initiatives. Dakota Creative Connections (2008-2009) made small grants to artists at early stages of their careers to support their development (20 grants totaling $99,000). The Enduring Vision Awards (2008-2010) supported mature artists with grants of $100,000 to support them over a three- to five-year period; nine artists benefitted from this program for a total of $900,000.  

Bush Medical Fellows Program

The Bush Medical Fellows Program (BMF) started in 1979 as a program to improve health care in rural communities by supporting primary-care physicians from those communities as they developed additional clinical skills. The program later expanded to include urban physicians and eventually specialty-care physicians as well. In October 2009, the Foundation announced it would cease operation of the BMF program so that it could more closely align the Foundation’s fellowship programs with its leadership and community engagement goal. From 1979 to 2009, 324 physicians received fellowships totaling nearly $15 million.  

Bush Fellowship Program

In November 2010, the Foundation launched the Bush Fellowship Program, which replaced these previous programs. The purpose of the Bush Fellowship Program is to better equip and better network leaders to more effectively lead positive change within their communities. Meet the Bush Fellows.




Learn more about how to apply to the Bush Fellowship Program or current or past Bush Fellows...