2019 Bush Fellows launch retreat
2019 Bush Fellowship launch retreat

Bush Fellowship

Not currently accepting applications

The Bush Fellowship is a recognition of your accomplishments and support for your potential. It is an investment in you, so that you can make a difference in your community.

The Fellowship is a flexible grant of up to $100,000 intended to help you strengthen and develop your leadership. It gives you the resources and time you need to reflect, build your leadership skills and learn new ways to make a positive impact.

As a Fellow, you define your own vision and create a unique Fellowship plan to learn the skills and build the relationships that will help you make your vision a reality. We encourage you to think bigger and differently about what is possible for yourself and your communities.

Meet the 2019 Bush Fellows

To learn more about the Fellowship, please watch this informational webinar.

You can also view this recorded question-and-answer webinar.

2020 Bush Fellowship significant dates

Considering the Fellowship?

Watch these videos

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How do I know if the Bush Fellowship is for me?

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Is now the time for me to consider the Fellowship?

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Think Big

Thinking bigger through the Bush Fellowship

Your Fellowship

Your Fellowship journey begins with a personal goal to become more effective in your leadership and a vision for what that could mean for your community. You define your vision, create a Fellowship plan and carry it out.

As you consider applying for the Fellowship, think about things like: 

  • What is your vision for making your community stronger? What is the impact you want to have?
  • How do you need to change, grow and develop to make that happen? How will you build your skills to work inclusively with people of all different backgrounds?
  • Remember, this is an opportunity to stretch beyond your comfort zone. Think big about the skills, connections, knowledge and experiences that would help you turn your vision into reality. 
  • Talk to others about your ideas. Listen to their feedback and use it to strengthen your plan.

The Fellowship can last anywhere between 12 and 24 months. During that time, Fellows submit monthly reflections in which they reflect on their experience. Every six months, they provide a public reflection on their leadership journey in the form of a Learning Log.

Fellows also come together once a year to meet one another and share the insights and experiences they have gained through the Fellowship.

When I started this Fellowship, I thought of leadership skills as something outside of myself to search for and acquire. I have come to see leadership as a choice, an ethic and a skill. It is a decision to respond in love and hope rather than defeat and dismay. It is remembering the pause before the response, and asking, 'Am I in the right mind, using the right words, taking the right action?'

- Jennifer Almanza, BF'16

What we fund

The Fellowship is an investment in you, so that you can make a difference in your community. It funds your self-development, skill building and personal growth. The Fellowship is designed to equip you with the resources and time you need to reflect, strengthen your leadership skills and acquire new skills to become even more effective.

Your Fellowship funds can be used for a wide range of costs, including living expenses, tuition, conference registration, equipment, travel and childcare. No portion of the Fellowship can be directed to another person or organization.

Here are a few ways past Fellows have used their Fellowships to develop their own leadership:

  • Gain a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate degree.
  • Attend conferences and conventions within or outside of their current expertise and network.
  • Build a network of colleagues and thought partners. 
  • Develop business acumen and credentials.
  • Grow capacity to build and sustain coalitions.
  • Study effective change strategies.
  • Learn from successful organizations and initiatives.
  • Take part in leadership programs.
  • Seek and work with mentors.
  • Develop specific skills, including professional coaching, conflict and change management, facilitation and communication skills.

IRS regulations restrict how certain government and elected officials can use their Fellowship. Download the Government Official Restrictions PDF for more information.

I think that the best thing you can do with the Fellowship is to risk, to reach beyond your grasp. One of the things I loved about the Fellowship was being encouraged to fail, as crazy as that sounds. You never learn from success. You only learn through trial and error.

- Kevin Kling, BF'88 and '03

Selection criteria

Bush Fellows come from all sectors, ages, backgrounds and walks of life. There are Fellows who are CEOs of major companies, and there are Fellows who are starting out in their careers. What makes them Fellows is their record of accomplishment, potential to do even more for their communities and commitment to lead inclusively.

Up to 24 Bush Fellows are selected each year. Our criteria for selecting Fellows is based on the combination of an extraordinary track record of success, a Fellowship plan that reflects the ability to dream big about what is possible and the skills and potential to bring the plan to life.

Selection criteria:

your track record

  • Record of success: You make the most of opportunities regardless of where you are in your career. You continuously find ways to have more impact inside your job and/or outside your job. You are persistent and resilient in the face of difficulty. 
  • Outstanding character: You are admired and respected by others. You demonstrate integrity and generosity of spirit. 
  • Active Learner: You recognize your own strengths and weaknesses. You seek and incorporate feedback. You have an inquiring mind, actively searching out new ideas and new experiences to broaden your perspective and increase your effectiveness.    

your Potential

  • You demonstrate the vision and the drive to be extraordinary in your leadership and the capacity to make a far greater impact in your community affecting larger scale changes than you are making now. You are committed to working to benefit people and communities in MN, ND, SD and the 23 Native nations that share the geography.

your Plan

  • You clearly articulate how the Fellowship will be transformative to changing or accelerating your trajectory in your career and life. You clearly articulate how you will be a stronger, more effective leader after the Fellowship than you are today.

Regardless of whether your application is successful or not, allow yourself to think on what you would really love to be doing if time and money were not a constraint. If you are not selected, keep developing your idea. I could wall paper my apartment with rejection letters. But I always continue working on the projects, even if money is not on the table.

- Mauricio Arango, BF'08

Fellowship amounts and terms

The Bush Fellowship provides a flexible grant of up to $100,000 to be used over 12 to 24 months.

Start date for the Fellowship is August 1.


To be eligible for a Bush Fellowship you must be:

  • at least 24 years old at the time of the application deadline.
  • a resident who lives in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota or one of the 23 Native nations that shares the same geography, for one continuous year immediately prior to the application deadline.
  • You are ineligible if you have previously received a Bush Fellowship, Bush Artist Fellowship, Bush Leadership Fellowship, Bush Medical Fellowship or Enduring Vision Award.

There are no specific citizenship requirements to be eligible for the Bush Fellowship. However, if a Fellow is not a U.S. citizen or resident alien, the Bush Foundation may be required to withhold income taxes on Fellowship payments and report such payments and withholdings to the Internal Revenue Service.

How to apply

Deadline for 2020 Bush Fellowship applications was October 24, 2019 at noon Central.

We use an online application system. We understand this may present a barrier to some applicants, and we will make reasonable efforts to accommodate particular needs on a case-by-case basis. Please contact us as soon as possible, but no later than one week before the application deadline, to discuss your specific circumstances. We cannot make accommodations after the application deadline.

Tips for submitting an application

  • The online application counts characters differently than programs like Microsoft Word. Type your answers directly in the application instead of copying and pasting from another program.
  • Some fields have a character count limit. The application will stop you from typing without warning when you reach the limit.
  • You may receive an error message to remove approximately 10 characters or spaces from your answer. Consider deleting line breaks (created when the "Enter" key is pressed) and using only one space after periods.
  • Use plain text to complete your answers. Avoid using bold, italic, underlined or centered text, special characters or bullets — instead, use bullet substitutes such as plus signs (+), asterisks (*) or hyphens (-).
  • Your application can be saved to revisit and finish at any time. We recommend that you save early and often! To save a change and continue working in the current tab of the application, click the "Save" button at the bottom of the page.
  • The online application automatically times out when inactive for two hours. In case of a time-out, all text entered after your last save will be lost. Please note that there is no change to the computer screen after this time-out occurs. Save your work often!

2020 Bush Fellowship application deadline was October 24, 2019.

Selection process

The selection process is designed to benefit all applicants. Whether or not you receive a Fellowship, the process provides an opportunity for you to reflect on your accomplishments and create a plan to achieve your aspirations.

Here are the stages in the Bush Fellowship selection process:

  1. A preliminary selection committee of Bush Fellow alumni will select roughly 150 quarterfinalists in early December. 
  2. Quarterfinalists will be invited to have a one-on-one mentoring session in mid-December with a Bush Fellow alum who will help them think bigger about their Fellowship plan. Following the mentoring session, quarterfinalists are required to provide more information about their Fellowship plan through a second stage application due January 17. 
  3. Foundation staff select up to 60 semifinalists in mid-February.
  4. Semifinalists are required to provide more information about how they will use the Fellowship through phone interviews and reference checks in late February through March. The Bush Foundation may conduct formal background and public records checks on applicants who are invited to move forward to the next phase of the application process.
  5. A final selection committee of Foundation staff will select up to 36 finalists in early April. We will assign each finalist a time for a half-day, in-person interview with the final selection committee in St. Paul, Minnesota on April 30, May 4 or May 7. 
  6. After the interviews, Fellowship selection committees made up of community leaders and board members will select up to 24 Fellows, to be notified in May.
We're here to help

For more information, or to talk with someone on the Leadership Programs Team, use our online scheduling system to set up a call. You can also contact the Leadership Programs Team at Fellowships@BushFoundation.org or 651-379-2249.