Be a Fulcrum Fellow: Advice from Current Fellows

Applications are open for the Center for Community Investment’s (CCI) Fulcrum Fellowship—an intensive, 12-month program designed to equip leaders with the tools and knowledge to ignite lasting change in communities.

Earlier this month, CCI hosted a webinar with three of our inaugural Fellows: Ja’Net Defell, Lead Developer at Michigan IFF, a Community Development Financial Institution or CDFI, focused on developing and financing quality early childhood education facilities in Detroit; Rudy Espinoza, Executive Director of Leadership for Urban Renewal Network (LURN), who is developing a large-scale microfinance initiative that will support business owners at the “bottom of our economic pyramid,” such as street vendors and home-based entrepreneurs in Los Angeles; and Chris Story, Assistant City Manager for the City of Spartanburg, who is focused on improving outcomes for young children and their families through the Hello Family initiative. Each shared insights and lessons learned from their experience, as well as advice for interested applicants.

Listen to the full webinar.

Ja’Net, Rudy, and Chris believe that you should be in the Fulcrum Fellowship if you are:

• Tired of Business as Usual. Through monthly coaching calls, five in-person, multi-day seminars, and peer learning, fellows learn about and apply ideas, tools, and strategies from other communities and disciplines to help them develop new solutions to existing problems. Chris noted, “I was feeling stuck… Spartanburg had put in place best practices, picked the low hanging fruit, and efforts to move the needle on poverty but we were not getting progress,” shared Chris. “I was searching to move deeper, move beyond, and figure out my role. The Fellowship was a great way to clarify those things.”

• Focused on Systems Change. The Fulcrum Fellowship brings together a diverse cohort of up to 12 rising executives from the public, nonprofit, philanthropic and private sectors to help participants deepen their understanding of the broad set of stakeholders needed to create different ways of doing business and to change the policies and relationships that determine what gets financed. “The Fellowship forced me to take a step back and look at the entire ecosystem and the system change that is needed for me to be successful. Prior, I was a very transaction-focused person with a background in real estate and urban planning…but it requires so much more,” shared Ja’Net.

• Interested in Developing Deeper Awareness of Self. The Fellowship is intentionally designed to help leaders understand who they are as individuals and the roles they play in different systems. Fellows learn how to apply their unique skills effectively in different roles to address inequities in their community. Per Rudy, “all of the sessions circled back to who we are as people, what our skills are, and how they are unique and complementary to others…It has helped me in my work because now I am more conscious in my work of my kryptonite and my superpowers.”

• Ready to Use Investment Move a Strategic Challenge. The Fulcrum Fellowship’s leadership development strategies equip fellows with an understanding of how investment can help address the most pressing issues in their community. Participants learn how to use financial tools and leverage partners to achieve greater scale and impact. The content is designed to offer something for leaders whether or not they have a traditional finance background. “If you read the application questions and you say I’m not sure I have answers to all of them, that is not a reason not to apply. In fact, that might be the reason to apply,” shared Chris.

According to Ja’Net, “if you are looking for a tailored leadership program to take you to the next level, it is worth taking a look at this Fellowship, especially if you are willing to put in the work.”

Are you ready to put in the work? Apply today.

CCI is committed to building a network of leaders that understand how to act and accelerate change at scale so that everyone has a fair chance to lead a healthy and productive life. Visit our website for more information on Fellowship eligibility. Applications close on August 31st.

Transforming investment in communities

CCI is supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, The California Endowment, and The Annie E. Casey Foundation.

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