The Children and Family Fellowship® is the Casey Foundation’s signature program to develop the potential of leaders in public, nonprofit and philanthropic organizations working to improve outcomes for children, youth and families. The Fellowship explicitly strives to increase the pool of diverse, visionary leaders with the confidence and competence to lead and sustain major system reforms and community change initiatives that benefit large numbers of children, youth and families.
The 21-month Fellowship program brings together leaders from varied professional backgrounds, geographic regions and racial and ethnic groups. This diverse group of Fellows becomes a powerful learning community that serves as both catalyst and support throughout this intensive experience.
Change is the hallmark of the Fellowship — personal and professional change, change in perspective and vision, and changes of scenery as Fellows travel to nine seminars at the Casey Foundation in Baltimore and around the country (conditions permitting) and engage in two seminars virtually. While balancing the demands of their current positions, Fellows participate in a series of leadership opportunities, including executive seminars, peer consultations and individual coaching to provide real-time application and learning.
The cornerstone of the Fellowship experience is a series of eleven four-day seminars that employ a dynamic, experiential learning approach. Co-designed by Fellowship faculty, Foundation staff and Fellows, the seminar series follows an arc of learning designed to build the competencies of Fellows to achieve results, close disparities and achieve equitable opportunities. The seminars are based on the core proposition that effective leaders understand that real change requires data-driven decision-making, highly impactful and aligned strategies, an understanding of systems, the ability to lead through complexity and ambiguity and true collaboration.
Each seminar advances the Fellows results work, explores real-time leadership challenges and provides the opportunity for peer consultation and exposure to leaders who are producing measurable results for children, youth and families and to organizations employing best practices. The seminars offer a concrete set of tools to aid Fellows in the realization of effective personal, organizational and systems change, building Fellows’ mastery of the competencies and skills of Results Count leadership. The seminars provide an opportunity for reflective practice, peer learning and networking.
Building a Results Action Plan
To build Fellows’ capacity to achieve measurable results, each Fellow will be expected to identify a measurable change that he or she plans to achieve by the end of the Fellowship term. For the 2022-2024 Fellowship, known as Class 12, Fellows will be asked to connect their work (either distantly or close up) to the result “All youth ages 16-24 in the United States have bright futures” and will work to strengthen their contribution to this result.
This work takes place primarily “back home” between seminars and is reported on and refined during the seminars. The Fellows are expected to apply all of the tools and competencies that the Fellowship provides them to reach this result. They will also enlist trusted colleagues in their home organization to partner with them throughout the Fellowship term and provide support and accountability in reaching their intended target. The Fellows will also receive two visits from Fellowship faculty to help guide and support them.
Bringing Change to Their Organizations
As Fellows pursue their Results Action Plans, they will bring the tools and skills of the Fellowship back home into their organizations and systems and enlist their colleagues and stakeholders in achieving accelerated results. To this end, Fellows must have the support of their organizations to participate in the Fellowship as well as an organizational interest in integrating an equitable results orientation to its work. Fellows will identify a key Results Partner who will serve as a “back home” partner in developing and implementing their Results Action Plan. This individual will have the opportunity to participate in a few Fellowship activities in order to build their own competency to achieve results.
The Casey Foundation funds the cost of tuition of the Children and Family Fellowship as well as all program-related expenses, including:
- Travel to and from Fellowship activities
Home Organization Expectations and Critical Success Factors
Expectations. An organization has a lot to gain when one of its leaders becomes a Fellow. The Fellow will be accelerating an actual piece of work during the Fellowship term, applying and disseminating the results-driven approach they are learning in real time. The Fellow receives coaching from faculty and peers, which is particularly valuable to strengthening strategies by exposing blind spots and overcoming obstacles.
Critical success factors. The opportunity works best when the Fellow’s supervisor is an open and willing thought partner to the Fellow between seminars. The Fellow is hard at work during the seminars, not taking a break from advancing the organization’s work. In that vein, the supervisor should be mindful of placing demands on the Fellow’s time while they are participating in seminars.