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Nathan Cummings Foundation (NCF) Fellowship

Fellowships to USA Individuals for Projects Related
to Social Justice, Inequality, and Climate Change

Agency Type:

Foundation / Corporation

Funding Source:

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Nathan Cummings Foundation (NCF)

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Fellowships to USA individuals for projects that promote social justice and address challenges that relate to inequality and climate change, particularly for women and people of color. Applicants representing practitioners and professionals in a variety of fields are welcome to apply. Projects must align with the Foundation's four focus areas: Racial and Economic Justice, Voice, Creativity and Culture, Inclusive Clean Economy, and Corporate and Political Accountability.

The Nathan Cummings Foundation (NCF) Fellows are bold leaders with visionary ideas to create a more just, vibrant, democratic and sustainable society. Each fellow receives funding, and over the course of an 18-month Fellowship, works to turn an inspired idea in the field of social justice into a world-changing reality. Their work reflects NCF’s identity and DNA, and relates to at least one of the two major challenges NCF is dedicated to addressing - the climate crisis and inequality. Their projects align with at least one of the Foundation’s four focus areas, which work together to advance our vision of a healthy planet and democracy:

- Inclusive Clean Economy
- Racial and Economic Justice
- Corporate and Political Accountability
- Voice, Creativity and Culture

Project Topics

The NCF Fellowship supports innovative individuals who share its commitment to creating a more just, vibrant, sustainable and democratic society.

By finding solutions to two major challenges of the current time– the climate crisis and growing inequality – NCF aims to transform the systems and mindsets that hinder progress toward a more sustainable and equitable future for all people, particularly women and people of color.

- Climate Change: From the Paris climate agreement to Puerto Rico, the world has declared the climate crisis one of the greatest challenges in history. It will take all of mankind's ingenuity and resolve to build an inclusive clean economy that lifts people out of poverty and moves everyone, especially those on the front lines, out of the devastating path the world now faces. NCF will address the climate crisis from an equity perspective and hold accountable the entrenched interests that have left the nation’s infrastructure and communities vulnerable and have stalled the energy and economic transformation the world needs. Solutions at the local, state, national and global level will be employed and join forces with diverse, enlightened leaders to chart a new course for a sustainable future.

- Inequality: Millions of Americans face overwhelming obstacles shaped by social hierarchies of race, ethnicity, gender, income, education level or zip code, which restrict their opportunities. In order to address inequality, the Foundation will invest in work that reduces implicit bias and discrimination in our public policy, systems and markets. It is particularly concerning how criminal justice policies and practices effects the economic security of hard-working families. The Foundation partners seek new and effective pathways to: improve quality of life for people and level the playing fields of opportunity. The Fellowship challenges ideas, policies, practices and systems that perpetuate racial and ethnic stereotypes, criminalize people in poverty, and make it possible for a few to hold a vastly disproportionate share of the nation’s income, wealth and assets.

NCF invests in four focus areas that together advance the vision of a healthy planet and a healthy democracy.

-The Foundation will accelerate a just transition to a more inclusive clean economy, where communities on the frontlines are creating solutions to the climate crisis and where prosperity for all people is not at odds with a healthy environment.

- The Foundation is determined to advance racial and economic justice by unlocking markets that have excluded generations from economic opportunity, reforming systems that criminalize too many and lifting up new models of democratic inclusion.

- The Foundation will use its influence as an investor and grantmaker to increase corporate and political accountability, spurring greater transparency and more democratic systems and structures.

- The Foundation believes in the transformative power of the arts, contemplative practice and religious traditions to change hearts and minds. It seeks to move people to act for social change by amplifying voice, creativity and culture that can build empathy, nurture compassion and shift narratives about race, class, gender and ethnicity, who has power and how the planet is valued.

The topic of a Fellow's project should support the work of the two major challenges the Foundation seeks to address and at least one of the four strategic areas of focus. The Foundation is particularly interested in innovative efforts that cut across the issue areas or impact multiple focus areas. Successful projects will challenge conventional thinking and present an innovative idea that has the potential to revolutionize the way the Foundation approaches its work and advances its strategies.

Project Outcomes and Products:

Applicants should have a clear idea of the audience they would like to reach and the impact the project will have on the desired community. Projects should be creative and identify activities and communication strategies that will reach the target audiences. Effective projects will include lessons that can be applied to a broad range of settings.

While the work product may be as diverse as the problems applicants seek to remedy, the projects should be clear, concrete, actionable and inspiring. A Fellow's work might include the creation of a product such as a book or report, white paper, blog, video, public hearing or presentation, the launch of an initiative, campaign or nonprofit organization, or other creative work product.

The main responsibility of Fellows will be to develop the various aspects of the proposed project, host meetings on the project's topic and produce content for the NCF website. Fellows will also be considered an integral team member at NCF during the Fellowship term, provide thought leadership on various institutional priorities, and participate in board meetings, Fellowship alumni activities and other events of the Foundation.

Fellows are encouraged to use the Foundation’s office to host briefings, lectures, conferences, programs and events to highlight the cutting-edge products produced by their research and broaden the Foundation's understanding of an extensive range of challenges.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 159689

Number of Grants:


Estimated Size of Grant:

Each fellow receives up to $150,000.

The NCF Fellowship awards an initial 12-month investment of $100,000.

Upon completion of the first 12 months, Fellows will submit a report that outlines the progress made toward accomplishing their project’s pre-determined markers for success. Based on that, an additional award may be disbursed to support the next phase of the fellowship work and to leverage additional funding.

Term of Contract:

The Fellowship term is a commitment of at least 12 months. Upon successful completion of the first year, Fellows may receive an additional six months of support. The entire Fellowship term is up to 18 months.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

The Foundation welcomes a diverse pool of applicants representing practitioners in a variety of fields. Applicants should hold a deep understanding of their subject area, possess a clear analysis of their field and be able to demonstrate a proven history of professional accomplishment and risk-taking.

Only U.S. citizens whose projects are focused on work within the U.S. are eligible for the Fellowship at this time.

The Fellowship stipend covers living expenses, travel, website development, research and conference fees.

Residency is not an eligibility requirement for the Fellowship term. However, Fellows will be required to work from the NCF headquarters in New York City one week per quarter.

The Fellowship program does NOT fund enrollment for degree or non-degree study at academic institutions, including dissertation research. The Fellowship program does NOT cover the Fellows’ health benefits and does NOT account for taxes owed to the IRS for the grant award.

Pre-Application Information:

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Online Application Portal:

If you have a content related question, contact:

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The Nathan Cummings Foundation
475 Tenth Ave., 14th Floor
New York, NY 10018

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Geographic Focus:

USA: Alabama;   Alaska;   Arizona;   Arkansas;   California;   Colorado;   Connecticut;   Delaware;   Florida;   Georgia;   Hawaii;   Idaho;   Illinois;   Indiana;   Iowa;   Kansas;   Kentucky;   Louisiana;   Maine;   Maryland;   Massachusetts;   Michigan;   Minnesota;   Mississippi;   Missouri;   Montana;   Nebraska;   Nevada;   New Hampshire;   New Jersey;   New Mexico;   New York City;   New York;   North Carolina;   North Dakota;   Ohio;   Oklahoma;   Oregon;   Pennsylvania;   Rhode Island;   South Carolina;   South Dakota;   Tennessee;   Texas;   Utah;   Vermont;   Virginia;   Washington, DC;   Washington;   West Virginia;   Wisconsin;   Wyoming