Aspen Young Leaders Fellowship

Building just and prosperous local communities by developing networks of talented and empowered youth committed to the greater good.

The Aspen Young Leaders Fellowship (AYLF) is an extension of the Aspen Institute's core values-based work to develop a global community of entrepreneurial leaders. The Fellowship is a place-based, multi-site initiative that will inform the next generation of local, purpose-driven leaders. Fellows are selected based on signs of strong leadership potential, qualities, behaviors and traits, not the best grades or even school attendance. The Fellowship then translates this potential into reality through intensive values-focused dialogues, community-focused social venture projects, and engagement with current leaders. As new cohorts are selected each year, a cross-section of leaders grows in each community developing a critical mass of leaders in each region.

Aspen Young Leaders gathering for a group photo

AYLF cohorts are intentionally diverse with respect to race, learning differences, gender, religion, and socioeconomic status. Cohorts meet nine times over 15 months.  The curriculum focuses on “Self in Society,” and “Community Impact,” with a paid summer social venture project developed by each member of the cohort, which must be designed to directly impact the community. During the creation of the social venture project, the fellows will develop the venture in response to a community need, engage in intensive interviews and analysis of the need, develop prototypes to test based upon the analysis, and iterate on the idea as data is captured. The social venture project work aligns with what is learned during the nine seminar sessions – values-based leadership, specific innovation skills, and development of the social venture capacity. Fellows receive virtual coaching and support to ensure that the social venture project is implemented through a rigorous testing and iterating process that gets to the most effective outcome. The goal is for the social ventures to address a community need, create local jobs in the fulfillment of that goal and act as a connection for Fellows to elect to stay in the region and build out the project. 

*To apply for a cohort, you must join our online community. Select the hometown city for which you are applying in the upper right of this page. You will be directed to the Join Us page. Complete the required information. Upon submitting, you will be redirected to this page. Then re-select the hometown city button for which you want to apply in the upper right.*

The Aspen Institute is a nonpartisan forum for values-based leadership and the exchange of ideas. The Institute is based in Washington, DC and has campuses in Aspen, Colorado and on the Wye River on Maryland's Eastern Shore. It also has offices in New York City and an international network of partners. For more information, visit

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