2023 Bush Fellows retreat

Bush Fellowship

Open annually

Applications open each fall

About the Bush Fellowship

The Bush Fellowship program supports accomplished leaders with extraordinary track records who are ready to take their efforts to the next level and have even greater impact with and across communities.

The program is unstructured and designed for maximum flexibility, which makes it best suited for people who know what they need to grow in their own leadership and what it will take to realize their vision for change in the region.

Up to 24 Bush Fellows are selected each year for a two-year program and receive a grant of $100,000 to fund their leadership plan. Fellowships can last anywhere between 12 and 24 months.

Prepare to apply

We encourage anyone curious about or interested in becoming a Fellow — or knows someone who might be interested — to explore the information on this page. Applying for the program and becoming a Fellow truly is a journey and takes time to consider and plan to make the most of this unique opportunity.

Find all the necessary information below about the Bush Fellowship program, application and selection process. We strongly encourage you to carefully read through this, as we hope it helps answer most questions for anyone interested in becoming a Fellow. We also record webinars to help share similar information in a different format.

To talk to someone about the Bush Fellowship or any of our programs, contact us staff@bushfoundation.org or 651-379-2249. We also offer online scheduling.

Information for Applicants

Applications for the 2024 Bush Fellowship program are closed. The application period ran from August 22 through September 21, 2023. The selection schedule was as follows:

  • First week of November 2023: Semifinalist selection
  • Early February 2024: Finalist selection
  • April 11, 15 and 18: 2024 Bush Fellows selection
  • June 2024: 2024 Bush Fellows announced

Watch a recorded informational webinarhttps://youtu.be/bwRyAXbhem0

Watch a recording of a live Q&A session: https://youtu.be/dEtfDr7dNsA

Be sure to stay in our active network to receive the latest updates!

Bush Fellowship grants go to individuals in our grantmaking region. To be eligible:

  • You must be at least 24 years old at the time of the application deadline.
  • You must be a resident of Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota or one of the 23 Native nations that share the same geography, and have lived there for at least one (1) continuous year before applying.

You are not eligible if:

  • You previously received a Bush Fellowship, Bush Artist Fellowship, Bush Leadership Fellowship, Bush Medical Fellowship or Enduring Vision Award.
  • You are a family member of an individual who is a Bush Foundation staff or board member. Family members include a spouse, parent, grandparent, great grandparent, child, grandchild, great grandchild, and spouses of children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

There are no specific citizenship requirements to be eligible for the Bush Fellowship. If a Fellow is not a U.S. citizen, the Foundation might be required to withhold income taxes on Fellowship payments and report such payments and withholdings to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

IRS regulations restrict how certain government and elected officials can use their Fellowship. Visit Restrictions for Government Officials for more information.

Fellows come from all sectors, ages, backgrounds and stages in their own careers. They demonstrate a track record of accomplishments and have a commitment to deepening their ability to drive equitable, large-scale change.

We select up to 24 Bush Fellows each year based on three main 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.

See the key dates above for the application and selection timelines, as well as informational webinars.

We use an online application system. We understand that this might 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 that deadline.

To get started, take a look at the online application to better understand if a Fellowship is right for you.

You can save your application as you go and come back to it later to edit or complete it. You also will be asked to upload your resume so make sure you have a current one. Once you submit your application, you will receive a copy of your responses via email.

As you prepare your application, other questions to ask yourself:

  • 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 with people of all different backgrounds?
  • This is an opportunity to stretch beyond your comfort zone. What are the skills, connections, knowledge and experiences that will help you turn your vision into reality?
  • Talk to others about your ideas. Listen to their feedback and use it to strengthen your plan.

Click here for some helpful tips for using our online application.

Bush Fellowships are highly competitive. We decline lots of amazing people in our region doing amazing work. Because of that, we design our selection process in a way that aims to benefit everyone in their leadership journey, whether or not they become a Fellow.

There are multiple stages to the selection process. See the key dates section above for specific dates.

Semifinalist selection (~100): A committee of Bush Fellow alumni review all applications submitted and select roughly 100 to advance to the next stage.

  • Semifinalists are invited to a one-on-one mentoring session with a Bush Fellow alum to help them think bigger as they develop their Fellowship plan. This is followed by a next-stage application that asks for a more detailed plan.

Finalist selection (up to 36): Foundation staff members select up to 36 finalists to advance to the final stage. The Foundation also conducts reference checks at this stage.

  • For applicants likely to advance in the process, the Foundation also might conduct formal background and public records checks.
  • Through interviews, finalists meet with five (5) members of the Fellowship selection committee, made up of a diverse group of community leaders and Foundation board members from across the region.

Fellows selection (up to 24): The Fellowship selection committee, made up of community members, chooses up to 24 Fellows, followed by a public announcement and kick-off retreat for the new class of Fellows.

It is important to us that our processes are transparent. Selection committee members who might financially benefit from an applicant who is selected to become a Bush Fellow are not allowed to participate in the decision specific to that applicant.

For a more in-depth look at the Bush Fellowship selection process, check out this article.

A Bush Fellowship is designed for maximum flexibility and can be used for a wide range and combination of experiences, including, tuition, conference registration, coaching, travel and living expenses.

No portion of the Fellowship can be directed to another person or organization, or used to fund a business or program.

Here are some of the ways Fellows have used their funds to create a great Fellowship experience:

  • Earn 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, or facilitation and communication skills

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

Learning logsWe ask all Fellows to share periodic reflections and learnings throughout their leadership journey, and we publish them on our website. We hope it inspires others in their own journeys.

StoriesWe publish online stories about the many Bush Fellows who are helping to make our region better for everyone. These go deeper than the typical profile and aim to demonstrate how they used their Fellowship — and what they learned — to think bigger and differently.

Learnings from staff: Through the years, our staff members have shared their own reflections and advice about the Bush Fellowship program.

Search our database: Find past and current Fellows. It’s a rich, living history of people leading change in the region.