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2019 Bush Fellows retreat

Bush Fellowship


Deadline September 17, 2020.

About the Bush Fellowship

The Bush Fellowship is a recognition of your extraordinary 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 to help you strengthen and develop your leadership. 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. 

Key Dates

  • Deadline for 2021 Bush Fellowship applications was noon Central on September 17, 2020
  • Quarterfinalist selection: October 2020
  • Semifinalist selection: January 2021
  • Finalist selection: March 2021
  • Fellows selection: April 2021
  • 2021 Bush Fellows announcement: May 2021

Information for Applicants

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.

Your Fellowship funds can be used for a wide range and combination of experiences, 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 some of the ways Fellows use 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.

The Fellowship can last anywhere between 12 and 24 months. During that time, Fellows submit monthly reflections 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.

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

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 share 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.
  • You cannot apply if you are a family member of an individual who is on the Bush Foundation staff or Board of Directors. That includes 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. 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.

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

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.

Bush Fellowship applications will be reviewed based on the following 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.

The deadline for 2021 Bush Fellowship applications was noon Central on September 17, 2020. 

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.

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 that deadline.

Application Tips

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 reach your goals.

The stages of the 2021 Bush Fellowship selection process:

  1. A preliminary selection committee of Bush Fellow alumni will select roughly 150 quarterfinalists in October, 2020. 
  2. Quarterfinalists will be invited to have a one-on-one mentoring session in late October to early November 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 November 20. 
  3. Foundation staff select up to 60 semifinalists in early January, 2021.
  4. Semifinalists are required to provide more information about how they will use the Fellowship through phone interviews and reference checks in mid-January to early February. 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 March. Each finalist will be assigned a time for a half-day, in-person interview with the final selection committee in St. Paul, Minnesota on April 1, 5 or 8.
  6. Fellowship selection committees made up of community leaders and board members will interview and select up to 24 Fellows, to be notified in mid-April and publicly announced in May.
  7. The 2021 Bush Fellowship launch retreat will take place May 14-16, and the start date for the Fellowship is August 1.

Learn more about Bush Fellowship selection

It is important to us that our processes are transparent. If any of our selection committee members would financially benefit from an applicant being selected as a Bush Fellow, they will not be part of the selection decision for that applicant.

"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

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.