Application Deadline 626 days 13 hours 51 minutes

A Call to Action,
A Way Forward

Launched in 2016, the Roddenberry Fellowship is a $1mil investment in the innovators, community leaders, and changemakers leading the efforts for a more just and equitable country.

The Roddenberry Fellowship is a 12-month program that offers Fellows $50,000 to take an existing initiative (e.g. campaign, organization) to the next level and amplify its impact OR to launch a new initiative.

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A New Reality

COVID-19 has and will continue to severely exacerbate existing and long-standing social inequities in marginalized and underserved communities. Individuals and families already experiencing housing instability, unemployment, limited health care access, and food insecurity will undoubtedly feel the pain more than others. For these communities, COVID-19 will amplify and compound economic, health, and racial inequities and reveal in stark and terrible terms the consequences of the historic disparities in which we live.

This year, in addition to seeking to support efforts that will mitigate and alleviate the new realities for these communities, we are also introducing a new issue area – Health + Wellness – to identify solutions that address health inequities in underserved communities, such as access to basic care, affordable treatment, and mental health services.

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Issue Areas

Up to twenty Fellows will be selected to lead a project, organization, or initiative with direct impact in one of five issue areas:

Civil Rights

African-Americans are imprisoned at more than five times the rate of white Americans. Black women are three to four times more likely to die during pregnancy or due to delivery complications than white women. Latinas earn roughly 54 cents for every dollar earned by a non-Latino man.

These are a few examples of the bias and institutional racism that hamper our public schools, criminal justice system, places of work, political structures, and financial systems. Coupled with more overt displays of racism, misogyny, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism across the country, there are a host of systemic and current issues that we must continue to find ways to overcome.

Prospective Fellows applying in the Civil Rights issue area will work to protect and advance the civil rights of minorities and people of color, including but certainly not limited to:

  • Supporting equality in education, healthcare, housing, voting, and social services
  • Fighting for fair and equal policing
  • Ending mass incarceration
  • Leveraging litigation and the court systems to protect civil rights
  • Supporting voting rights and mitigating voter suppression
  • Dismantling or weakening alt-right, anti-black, and racist groups

Environmental Protection

The threat to our natural resources has continued unabated over the past eighteen months. Deregulation and rollbacks have benefited the fossil-fuel industry and corporate interests ahead of environmental impact and those most affected by polluted environments. City, state, and federal climate rules, policies, programs, and offices are disappearing or being weakened across the US while attempts to discredit the scientific consensus on climate change remains an important part of these efforts.

Prospective Fellows applying in the Environmental Protection issue area will work to raise awareness and develop strategies that lead to increased sustainability and environmental resilience, including but certainly not limited to:

  • Holding politicians and decision-makers accountable for environmental policies
  • Tackling environmental health/exposure
  • Addressing unfair land use, urban sprawl, and zoning
  • Fighting against corporate environmental damage
  • Supporting access to clean water, air, and land
  • Promoting science-based research, data collection, and reporting

Immigration & Refugee Rights

More than six million Latino children live in poverty, the majority of whom were born to immigrant parents. Exploitation and discrimination, long detentions, the separation of families, and human trafficking are features of an immigration system driven by political interests and racial biases. We need to secure the rights of newcomers to the US so that they have full opportunities to integrate into our communities and lead prosperous and productive lives.

Prospective Fellows applying in the Immigrant & Refugee Rights issue area will work to champion the rights of DACA recipients, immigrants, and refugees to increase their possibility for success and wellbeing, including but certainly not limited to:

  • Supporting services, programs, and the rights of DACA recipients
  • Fighting for state and federal accountability to protect the rights of immigrants and refugees
  • Ensuring equitable access to education, healthcare, housing, and other basic services
  • Protecting migrant workers from abuse
  • Aiding refugee resettlement
  • Defending deportation and providing related legal services

LGBTQIA & Women’s Rights

In the last few years, gender rights have taken a significant step forward: Over 3 million women and girls in the US gathered and marched for their rights. The #metoo movement exposed sexual violence and assault across all strata of society and forced a long overdue public reckoning. And in 2018, the most racially diverse and most female group of representatives was ever elected to the House of Representatives.

Given all that transpired, this is the year we sustain the current momentum and build on these successes. Now is the time we increase the numbers of LGBTQIA and female candidates, particularly people of color, in politics, boardrooms, STEM fields, and high-tech.. It’s the year to narrow the wage gap, fight workplace discrimination, ensure equal rights for women, and the LGBTQIA community at all levels of society.

Prospective fellows applying in the LGBTQIA & Women’s Rights issue area will work to defend the rights of women and LGBTQIA individuals to secure their health and wellbeing, including but certainly not limited to:

  • Supporting more women in leadership positions, including the election of women to higher office
  • Fighting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity
  • Supporting LGBTQIA individuals in health care, jobs, military, housing, and family rights
  • Ensuring LGBTQIA students can attend school without fear of bullying and harassment
  • Gaining better maternal and infant health care, parental leave, and child care
  • Fighting for “equal pay for equal work”
  • Preventing and supporting victims of domestic abuse, sexual assault, and sexual harassment

Timeline and Applications

Fellowship Launch

May 19, 2020

Between May 19 and June 26, you are invited to learn about the Fellowship and complete the Round One application.

Round One Deadline

June 26, 2020

Complete registration and submit your application by 5:00 PM Pacific.

Round One Review

June 29–July 24, 2020

The Roddenberry Foundation team reviews submissions to ensure they comply with Fellowship eligibility and rules, and a panel of vetters evaluates applications using the scoring rubric.

Round Two Opens

July 27, 2020

A select number of applications will be invited to submit an application for Round Two of the Fellowship. Only those who are invited to Round Two will remain in consideration for the 2021 Fellowship.

Round Two Deadline

August 21, 2020

Round Two applicants will have three weeks to submit their Round Two application. All Round Two applications are due by Friday, August 21, at 5:00 PM Pacific.

Round Two Evaluation

August 24–October 23, 2020

The Roddenberry Foundation team a panel of judges evaluates applications using the scoring criteria and finalizes the 2021 cohort.

Fellows Announcement

November 2020

The 2021 Fellows will be announced on this website, The Roddenberry Foundation website, social media, and via press release.

Fellowship Begins

January 2021

The 2021 Fellowship will officially begin in January 2021 with a cohort-wide call to kick things off.

Evaluation and Criteria

Fellowship Criteria

Roddenberry Fellows push boundaries, seek new ways of approaching systemic problems, and leverage specific opportunities in unconventional ways. They know how to shape public discourse, inspire action, and challenge the status quo. As importantly, Fellows offer a bold vision for the future and inspire others through their work.

More specifically, the selection process will take into consideration the following key criteria: commitment, impact, eco-system, and vision.

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The Roddenberry Foundation welcomes Fellowship applications from individuals who meet all of the following:

  1. United States citizens, permanent residents, DACA recipients, or current visa holders who reside in the 50 United States or its territories.
  2. Individuals who are the principal of their initiatives or organizations, including Founder, Co-Founder, President, CEO, or Executive Director.
  3. Individuals who are 18 years of age or older.
  4. Individuals employed by or affiliated with organizations or institutions with a budget of $1.5M or less.
    • Given the extraordinary demands placed on US communities because of COVID-19, the Foundation is raising the organizational budget restriction to $3M. Entities with a budget of $3M and below may apply.
  5. Individuals whose primary focus of their work is either immigrant & refugee rights, civil rights, LGBTQIA+ & women’s rights, environmental protection or health & wellness.

Meet Our Fellows

Roddenberry Fellows are an extraordinary group of activists, leaders, and disruptors who are responding with urgency and creativity to structural inequities and a climate of increasing enmity and blame.

Yessica Xytlalli Holguín
Center for Community Wealth Building
Taica Hsu
Queens of the Castro
Tanay Tatum-Edwards
Juvaria Khan
The Appellate Project
Aideé Granados
Rosa Es Rojo, Inc.
Sara Guillermo
Daquan Oliver
Johnny B. Reed

Questions & Answers

What initiatives or individuals are eligible to apply?

Anyone over the age of 18 who is a United States citizen, permanent resident, DACA recipient, or current visa holder who resides in the 50 United States and its territories is eligible to apply. All proposals must be for charitable, educational, or scientific purposes and may not be for political or legislative purposes. 501c4 organizations are not eligible, but if you have a 501c3 arm of the organization, we can fund you as long as your work is legally separate from the 501c4 and the grant is earmarked as such. Please see our Rules for more information.

What are key dates?

Here are important dates to keep in mind and please review the timeline for more details.

  • Round One Application Deadline: June 26, 2020, 5:00 PM Pacific
  • Invitation to Round Two Application: July 27, 2020
  • Round Two Application Deadline: August 21, 2020, 5:00 PM Pacific
  • Announcement of Fellows: November 2020
  • Fellowship Duration: January 1 - December 31, 2021

How must the $50K be used by the Fellows?

Fellowship funds will be awarded as grants to achieve impact described in the application, including but not limited to salaries, project development, and technology. Funding received from The Roddenberry Foundation must be used for the project’s purposes and to ensure success. Please see our sample agreement for more information.

Do initiatives need to be incorporated as a 501c3?

No, 501c3 status is not a requirement and we accept applications from individuals who are affiliated with movements, institutions, networks, or loosely structured organizations. However, The Roddenberry Foundation does not fund 501c4 organizations. Please see our Rules for more information.

Are you looking for only new organizations?

No, definitely not. Whether you’ve been doing this work for one year or a decade is less relevant than how you approach the issues, your vision for change, track record, and the impact you’ve made.

How has the Fellowship changed from 2019 to 2020?

We have tweaked the application to include questions related to COVID-19 and we’ve added a new issue area: Health & Wellness. We also anticipate making programmatic changes next year if we can’t hold retreats due to the pandemic.

Given the extraordinary demands placed on US communities because of COVID-19, the Foundation is raising the organizational budget restriction to $3M. Entities with a budget of $3M and below may apply.

If I applied last year, can I apply again this year?

Yes, absolutely. There’s actually a question on the application where you can tell us how your ideas and initiative have evolved since last year.

Will applicant information be kept private?

All information submitted in applications and supplemental materials is confidential and will be used solely by the Foundation for judging and selection. Please see our Privacy Policy for detailed information on how submitted information will be used.

Can I apply as a team or w/my co-founder?

While we recognize that this work is collaborative, the Fellowship is designed to support individual activists and organizers. We know you work with other amazing people and that social change is a collective endeavor, but you must apply as an individual.

Why is there a $3M budget cap?

We created a $3M organizational budget cap to help us find leaders of early-stage ideas, new projects, or long-standing but small organizations. We are interested in individuals and organizations that are on the cusp of growth rather than larger, more established organizations that generally have more access to resources.

What are you looking for?

Generally speaking, we are interested in ambitious, creative initiatives likely to affect a significant portion of a target population, geography, or community. Hyper-local initiatives or those small in scope are great but not aligned with our Fellowship goals. You also don’t need to be well-known or have 50K twitter followers – we want individuals with a track record of success, a bold vision for the future, and initiatives with potential for large-scale change.

Can I reapply with pieces of last year’s application? Can I get feedback on last year’s application?

Unfortunately, due to the volume of applications we receive, we are not able to provide individual feedback on applications. Our program is competitive. Oftentimes, this means that even strong applicants are turned away. Because we know the kind of investment required for these proposals, we do our best to make sure that re-application is as easy as possible.

Can you explain your funding limitations, as it pertains to advocacy and lobbying?

The laws around what private foundations can fund regarding advocacy and lobbying are complicated. One of the core regulations though is that private foundations cannot earmark funds for lobbying. While Roddenberry Fellowship grants are general operating, the fellowship application explicitly asks what the grant will be used for. So if lobbying is a core part of a fellowship application, and that application is awarded a fellowship, that could be seen as the foundation earmarking funds for lobbying. To that - we strongly discourage applications that are primarily focused on lobbying. If you want more information on what exactly is advocacy or lobbying, the regulations around funding either, or how to get grants from private foundations if you engage any sort of advocacy work, this is a great place to start:

Want to stay up to date?

The Roddenberry Fellowship

Round one of the 2021 Roddenberry Fellowship application is now closed. Applicants who are invited to the second round will be notified by email at the end of July 2020.

We will announce the 2021 Cohort in November 2020.

To receive updates on the Fellowship and get notifications of the 2022 Cohort application launch, please sign up here:

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