This 12-month Fellowship, beginning in January, 2020, will be offered to 20 Indigenous Changemakers each year across Canada, the United States, the Islands of Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Guam, and American Samoa, and Mexico who are working to defend, develop, and decolonize their communities and Nations. 

Our Program Includes

Indigenous leaders often times lack the financial wellbeing and stability required to fully invest their time and talent in creating social change in their communities. Changemakers will therefore receive flexible cash awards of $75,000 each year to invest in and support their innovation as leaders. This includes a $50,000 stipend to support the Changemaker in her/his/their endeavors and a $25,000 professional & personal development stipendto cover a wide range of direct costs, including living expenses, tuition, conference registration, equipment, travel, health and wellbeing practices, and childcare. No portion of the funds can be directed to another person or organization.

This Plan will include required components that will materialize in different ways for different fellows to develop as leaders including:


It is important for Indigenous leaders to have a bold vision for the world they are working to create as well as a theory behind how they will get there. This will help fellows increase their depth of understanding of their work and enable them to continue to refine and increase their impact. Each fellow will be required to create their own individual Theory of Change, which encapsulates their philosophy for how they believe they can ignite change in the world.  NDN staff and consultants will support fellows throughout the fellowship to create and refine their individual Theory of Change, starting with a workshop at the beginning of the program.


It is vital that Native leaders obtain the education and skills they need to be successful in implementing their work and vision. Each NDN Changemaker Fellow will engage in skills building or education experiences during the fellowship. This can range from pursuing formal education through a degree or certificate program, to specialized trainings in areas such as grant writing, facilitation, community engagement, etc. Each fellow will identify the skills he/she/they would like to develop over the course of the fellowship to contribute to their effectiveness as a leader. NDN staff and consultants will support fellows to find programs and opportunities that will enable them to grow in their identified areas for leadership development.

Healing and Wellbeing

Native leaders take on the pain and struggle of their communities, often times at the expense of caring for themselves. The reality is that their own wellbeing is fundamental to sustaining their leadership and creating impact in the world. Therefore, each NDN Changemaker Fellow will commit to focusing on their personal physical, social, spiritual, and emotional wellbeing during the fellowship. Fellows will create a plan for how they will practice self-care and create a path forward for their individual wellbeing. Activities will be determined by each fellow and range from seeking drug and alcohol addiction treatment; seeing a counselor; participating in indigenous healing ceremonies, practicing yoga or mindfulness, etc. NDN staff and consultants will support fellows to find programs and opportunities relevant to their personal healing and wellbeing.

Mentorship & Coaching

Mentorship and coaching are fundamental to the development of strong Indigenous leaders, and can lead to increases in goal attainment, wellbeing, and overall leadership effectiveness. Therefore, fellows will be required to engage with a mentor and/or coach of their choosing at least four times (once per quarter) during the fellowship. Mentors can range from an elder or spiritual leader from your community to a professional executive coach.  Upon request, NDN staff and consultants will help fellows identify relevant mentorship and coaching opportunities. Fellows will also be encouraged to provide mentorship to one another through peer mentorship as well as to aspiring Native youth or leaders during the fellowship, though it will not be a requirement.

Networking &  Community  Building

To continue learning, growing, and creating social change, it is essential that each Indigenous changemaker have a strong community and network. Fellows will be required to work towards expanding their network and building a community of support around them during the fellowship. This will occur through reflections and information-sharing with other fellows and NDN staff each month (see Changemaker Journal below), as well as networking opportunities or conferences identified by each fellow with support from NDN staff.

Fellows will come together in-person at the beginning of the fellowship to meet one another, co-develop their Theory of Change, and begin to build the foundation for continued collaboration and learning from one another during the program and beyond. Within the first two months, Fellows will also come together as a cohort for a 5 day Indigenous Leadership Training Retreat to catalyze their work and development.

Each month, Changemakers will be required to submit a short (250 words) monthly reflection through the “Changemaker Journal”, an online portal where submissions will be shared with other fellows and NDN staff. Fellows will also be required to read and comment on at least two other fellow’s submissions to encourage feedback, relationship-building, and creating a learning and support community across the cohort. At the mid-point and end of the fellowship, each fellow will be required to submit a 500 – 1,000-word summary (2 pages) of their leadership journey to the Changemaker Journal, which will be shared with other fellows and NDN Collective staff as well as with the public through NDN’s communications team on social media, the NDN website, blog, podcast, and annual reports. These reports will also be archived for future potential applicants and fellows to read, as well as for past fellows and NDN Collective to continue to lift up the profile of fellows through other media outlets.

All NDN Changemaker Fellows that successfully complete the fellowship will be enrolled in the alumni program in January of the year following their fellowship. Alumni program components will include:

Alumni Webinar

Alumni will be invited to help welcome the new class of Changemaker fellows to the program by participating in a webinar facilitated by NDN.

Changemaker Fellowship Nominations

Alumni will be able to nominate individuals to be selected to apply for the fellowship in future years.


Alumni will be added to the Changemakers ListServ, which will be a place to share important updates, funding opportunities, job opportunities, etc. with the prestigious network of NDN Changemaker Fellow alumni.

Marketing & Communications:

NDN Collective will continue to highlight alumni in external communications to bring more attention to their work.

Connections to Funding:

Alumni will get introductions to funders by NDN Foundation staff where relevant and appropriate.

Connections to Alumni:

Alumni will have access to the NDN Changemaker Fellows database, which includes up-to-date contact information and geographic location for all past and current NDN fellows.

Strategic Advising Sessions:

Alumni will have the opportunity to join pro bono strategic advising sessions run by NDN Partners on topics of interest to them,including collaboration, strategic planning, impact evaluation, systems dynamics, etc.

Mentor Program:

Alumni will have the opportunity to mentor current Changemaker fellows as they go through the fellowship program.

Site Visits:

Alumni will have the opportunity to apply for funding to visit other alumni or current fellows to encourage partnership and collaboration.

Resource Bank:

Alumni will continue to have access to the Changemaker Plan resource bank with resources on personal and professional development and networking opportunities.

Data Sharing:

Alumni will be encouraged to continue to share data and insights with NDN Collective on an annual basis in service of highlighting their successes and challenges, showcasing the impact of the fellowship, and sharing ideas for how the program can continuously improve.


This opportunity is open to Indigenous peoples over the age of 18 who are working in the defense, development, or decolonization of their communities and Nations whose vision aligns with an honoring of:

The interconnectedness of all things

Indigenous self-determination

Equity and justice for all people and the planet

Application Process

Round 1


Individuals will be nominated to apply for the NDN Changemaker Fellowship via NDN regional boards. The LOI is also open to non-nominated individuals.

The deadline for LOIs is August 31, 2019.

To begin the process, please use the form below, which is designed to assist us in determining your eligibility for the Changemaker Fellowship:

Round 2


Each accepted nominee will be invited to formally apply for the NDN Changemaker Fellowship by completing the NDN Changemaker Plan.

Round 3


Candidates who fit the criteria outlined above with the strongest NDN Changemaker Plans will be invited for a final interview, which will determine their acceptance to the program.

For more information, please contact our Director of NDN Changemaker Fellowship Program, PennElys Droz, at [email protected]