Bush Fellowship

Meet the 2018 Bush Fellows

The Bush Foundation believes in the power of people. We invest in people who are committed to doing the hard work to make our region better for everyone.

The Bush Fellowship is one way the Bush Foundation works to inspire and support creative problem solving — within and across sectors — to make our region better for everyone. Since 1965, Bush Fellowships have been awarded to more than 2,300 people across Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and the 23 Native nations that share the same geography. 

Meet the 2018 Bush Fellows

Imagine if you had the resources, connections and support to do whatever you felt was necessary to become a more effective leader. What would you do? What could that mean for your community?

The Bush Foundation believes in the power of people to make great ideas happen for their community. Each year, we award the Bush Fellowship to as many as 24 people from across our region. Bush Fellows receive a flexible grant of up to $100,000 which they can use to strengthen their leadership skills.

The Bush Fellowship is an investment in people who have a record of accomplishment and the potential to do even more for their community. Bush Fellows have shown extraordinary leadership and the ability to inspire those around them. They have a clear vision for what is possible in their community and what type of personal growth and development they need to make that vision a reality.

The hallmark of the Bush Fellowship is its flexibility. Fellows can use their grant to start or complete an academic degree, or design and pursue a personal learning plan. This flexibility gives them the freedom to think bigger and differently about what is possible for themselves and their community. This pushes Fellows to build skills, make connections and pursue experiences they might not have previously imagined were possible.

Fellowship experience

Every Bush Fellow begins their Fellowship experience with a goal for their personal growth and development and a vision for what it can mean for their community.

From there, Fellows develop a plan to achieve their goal. They can start or complete an academic degree, anything from an undergraduate degree to a PhD. They can design a personal leadership development plan which can include anything from attending conferences to building their personal network.

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

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

At the end of the experience, Fellows will have a greater vision for what is possible in their communities — and a deeper commitment to taking action.

What is your vision to make your community stronger? What would it take to grow your leadership to make your vision a reality?

What we fund

Bush Fellows receive a flexible grant of up to $100,000 which they can use to cover a wide range of costs associated with their Fellowship. These include, but are not necessarily limited to: living expenses, tuition, conference registration, equipment, travel and childcare.

Fellows may not direct any portion of the grant to another person, organization or project.

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

Fellowship amounts and terms

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

Start dates for the Fellowship are June 1 or 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

We will accept applications for the 2019 Bush Fellowship beginning August 7, 2018

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.

Our online application system requires you to create an individual portal account. Visit the Portal Account Sign-In page and click "New User" to get started.

NOTE: If you created an organizational portal account to apply for organizational grants, you still need to create an individual portal account for the Bush Fellowship. However, you may use the same email address for both accounts.

Tips for submitting an application

  • The online application counts characters different from programs like Microsoft Word.
  • 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 use 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 (-)
  • Type your answers directly in the application instead of copying and pasting from another program. 
  • 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!

We will accept applications for the 2019 Bush Fellowship beginning August 7, 2018

Selection criteria

The Bush Fellowship is a recognition of extraordinary achievement and a bet on extraordinary potential. Our selection criteria are organized around three areas of focus: The person. Their potential. Their plan.


Record of success.

You make the most of opportunities you are given 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.    


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.


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.

Selection process

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

There are three main stages in the Bush Fellowship selection process:

  1. A preliminary selection committee of Foundation staff and previous Bush Fellows select up to 60 semifinalists in early December.
  2. We require applicants selected as semifinalists to provide more information about how they will use the Fellowship through a second stage application due in January, phone interviews to take place in December, and reference checks. 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.
  3. A final selection committee of Foundation staff will select up to 36 finalists in early February. We will assign each finalist a time for a half-day, in-person interview with the final selection committee in St. Paul, Minnesota in February.

Fellowship selection committees made up of community leaders and board members will select up to 24 Fellows.

We're here to help

Please contact the Leadership Team at 651-379-2249 or Fellowships@BushFoundation.org.