Support people to think bigger and differently

2022 Bush Fellowship applicant rating of how helpful the application process was in thinking bigger & differently *

  • extremely helpful 45%
  • at least somewhat helpful 54%
  • not helpful 1%
Why it’s important to us

Communities in our region can be as strong as the people in them believe they can be. That’s why we want to take every opportunity to encourage people to think bigger and think differently about what is possible.

We also know that applicants spend a lot of time and energy to submit their proposal to us. That is particularly true for the Bush Fellowship program, which is why we are focusing on that program as our indicator here. The Bush Fellowship is highly competitive — we only award Bush Fellowships to 24 people each year. This means that we say no to a lot of people doing incredible work in our region. That makes it even more important to us that our process supports people to grow and expand their sense of potential and possibility.

We design the application process with the hope that the process itself will be valuable for everyone who tries. We want to support applicants to reflect on themselves and their aspirations in ways that may be useful in their development, whether they are selected or not.

How we’re doing

We are glad that 99% of Bush Fellowship applicants say the application process helped them to think bigger and think differently. We want to keep up that rate and to shift so more of them find it “extremely” helpful. Toward this end, we gather feedback from everyone who applies for a Bush Fellowship and we use all that information to keep learning, adapting and improving in small and big ways.

For example, we saw evidence that applicants who talked with past Fellows had stronger applications, so we added mentoring opportunities with former Fellows at the semi-finalist stage in the process. We’ve also added a $3,000 coaching stipend for people who make it to the finalist stage but are not selected as Fellows.

What’s next

We are doing a 5-year strategy review of the Bush Fellowship this year and will be considering lots of ideas to improve the applicant experience. We’re also looking at ways to further disaggregate the data we collect to get a clearer picture of factors that help someone feel successful in the process and their Fellowship.

* Source for chart: Bush Fellowship Application Survey, September — October 2022