For Applicants

The Aspen Young Leaders Fellowship

The Aspen Young Leaders Fellowship (AYLF) identifies, cultivates, and amplifies future generations of talent to engage in the values-based leadership essential for transforming their lives and society for the better. AYLF is a place-based, multi-site program that nurtures a cadre of diverse youth committed to addressing the most compelling social, political, and scientific issues facing their communities.

  • Increases retention efforts, prepares graduates with workforce skills, and opens a pipeline of career opportunities.
  • Accelerates learning gains for fellows across values-based leadership outcomes.
  • Rebuilds leadership talent pools by investing in local adult and organizational capacities to deliver high-impact leadership development.
  • Combats “brain drain” and creates a critical mass of future leaders with the capacity to address pressing community issues.
  • Translates program model to the unique needs of urban, suburban, and rural communities.

Application Deadline and Guidance

Rolling Application Due: January 15, 2020.

The priority deadline for applications is January 15, 2020 although we review applications on a rolling basis and the process will close once 30 youth are accepted.


Submit your application for Class of 2020St. Louis Cohort

Apply for St. Louis Cohort 

Submit your application for Class of 2020–Delta Cohort 

Apply For Delta Cohort

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What Will Fellows Gain From the Fellowship

  • Individual transformation, values-based leadership development, and community impact.
  • Access to high profile leaders locally and nationally.
  • College, career, and leadership coaching from experienced civic leaders and professionals.
  • On-demand, virtual academic tutoring support with subject matter experts.
  • Access to high-impact mentoring program and internship and career pipeline.
  • Paid internship to design a community change initiative with access to $2,500 in seed money.
  • Social capital fair and Multi-generational leadership seminar for families.
  • Safety net funds for crisis support, and up to $1,000 in Catalyst funds for community change initiatives.
  • Continued access to training and development for the AYLF alumni network.

Who Is a Fellow?

The Aspen Young Leaders Fellowship (AYLF) partners with a network of schools and organizations in each region or city to source a diverse mosaic of 30 talented youth with untapped leadership potential to enter the cohort each year. Ideal candidates for AYLF are first- and second-year college students between the ages of 18-22 who are creative, curious, resilient, and have demonstrated an interest in civic transformation and social responsibility. We also engage opportunity youth not currently enrolled in school. The Fellowship is particularly interested in low- and moderate-income youth, youth of color, and youth with learning differences to participate in the program. This is not a leadership program designed to reinforce elite models of leadership or work solely with youth with the strongest academic record. AYLF emphasizes talent and potential. The only requirement for the program beyond age is that fellows are permanent residents of your region/city.

Where We Work

Regions for the Aspen Young Leaders Fellowship are selected based on multiple factors including the distressed communities index, access to opportunity pipelines, brain drain statistics, and other economic, social, and political factors. AYLF currently operates in Newark, New Jersey, St. Louis, Missouri, and the Mississippi/Arkansas Delta.


Cost & Commitment 

The Aspen Young Leaders Fellowship experience does not cost fellows anything except their time and commitment. We understand that fellows lead rich, robust lives beyond the fellowship, so the program is designed to complement academic and extracurricular commitments.

The coursework for the Aspen Young Leaders Fellowship is a year long commitment , however when you graduate The Aspen Institute, and the Aspen Young Leaders Fellowship will be associated with you as an individual for the rest of your life and career.