Dalai Lama Fellows

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FAQ

1. What is Dalai Lama Fellows?
2. Who are your partners?
3. Who can apply?
4. Where can I apply?
5. Do I have to be Buddhist or engaged in a contemplative practice to apply?
6. Do I have to take time off from school in order to apply?
7. What is the rationale for limiting the fellowship to students who will return to campus in the following academic year?
8. How can the project grant be spent?
9. Does the Dalai Lama fund the program?
10. What role does the faculty advisor play?
11. May teams of students apply for the Fellowship?
12. Are teams eligible for a project grant of a higher amount?
13. Do you have examples of past projects?
14. What are the requirements of a Fellow, beyond the project?
15. Should the projects be domestic or international?
16. May the Fellow do his/her work while participating in study abroad?
17. Do you have additional questions not covered here?

1. What is Dalai Lama Fellows?

Dalai Lama Fellows, an ethical leadership and social change initiative that is personally authorized by the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, is driven to build a world that works for all. We do this by guiding a global network of young social innovators to deepen their effectiveness by integrating secular ethics, contemplative values and compassion. Dalai Lama Fellows is non-sectarian.

We award highly-selective, year-long Fellowship grants of up to $6,000 to exceptional undergraduate and graduate students from select partners who want to design and launch ambitious “compassion-in-action” projects in one or more of six areas:

a. Enhancing understanding and cooperation across peoples and cultures;
b. Diminishing violence and promoting peace;
c. Helping to alleviate poverty through creative initiatives;
d. Protecting the environment;

e. Increasing gender equity; and

f. Increasing access to health and education.

Grant awards cover project expenses and airfare to the Ethical Leadership Assembly, a weeklong convening of Fellows held in July 2016 and again in 2017 near San Francisco, California.

Over the course of the year, Fellows are immersed in a reflective leadership curriculum, where they explore universal human values including contemplation, compassion, emotional resilience, discernment, and courage from a secular perspective.

Dalai Lama Fellows learn that cultivation of patience, tolerance for ambiguity, listening to find alignment, resilience when faced with the unexpected and allowing solutions to generate from a place of openness and humility are what make for exemplary leadership.

2.  Who are your partners?

Dalai Lama Fellows works with select partner colleges and universities. Currently, only students from our partner schools are eligible to apply.

North America

  • McGill University
  • New York University
  • Oberlin College
  • Princeton University
  • Spelman College
  • Morehouse College
  • Stanford University
  • University of California, Irvine
  • University of Virginia
  • Peralta Community College District

Africa/Middle East

  • Ashesi University, Ghana
  • American University, Cairo
  • NYU Abu Dhabi

Europe

  • Koc University, Turkey

Asia   

  •  Tata Institute of Social Studies, India

At-Large Partners

  • World Merit
  • African Leadership Academy
  • Global Citizen Year

3.  Who can apply?

Undergraduate, as well as graduate and professional, students who are enrolled full-time at a partner school at the time of applying and who intend to be enrolled and on campus during their Fellowship year are eligible to apply.

4.  Where can I apply?

Application links for the 2016 Fellowship are currently available here. Contact Bela Shah, Director of Fellows Selection, at bshah@dalailamafellows.org with questions.

5.  Do I have to be Buddhist to apply?

No. Dalai Lama Fellows is a secular, non-political organization. We are equal opportunity in outlook, and value diversity in both background and perspectives.

6.  Do I have to take time off from school in order to apply?

No. The Fellowship is structured so that you can pursue your academic studies while engaging with the Fellowship. That said, we are looking for candidates who are passionate about affecting their issue of choice and who are ready and willing to engage significantly with the project, the community they will work in, and with the Fellowship.

7.  What is the rationale for limiting the fellowship to students who will return to campus in the following academic year?

One of the key requirements for Fellows is to integrate their Fellowship work meaningfully into the life of the campus. Returning to campus is a vital part of fulfilling that requirement. Campus integration is an opportunity for Fellows to share what they are learning and working on with the campus. We expect an extended commitment. Past Fellows have done everything from running discussion groups, leading tours over Spring Break to project areas, blogging, writing for campus publications and speaking on campus about their Fellowship experience.

8.  How can the project grant be spent?

The project grant of up to $6,000 may be used for all project-related expenses and for travel expenses to the Ethical Leadership Assembly (July 1 – 8, 2016 and again in July 2017). (Travel expenses to the ELA for international Fellows will be paid for by Dalai Lama Fellows and is separate from the project grant.)  While the grant cannot be used as personal income, students may be allowed to use part of the $6,000 as a stipend, after consultation with the program office, if Fellowship participation precludes a student from necessary part-time employment.

The project grant cannot be used for tuition or fees.

A key component of the project application is a detailed budget, and selection committees will look to the budget as evidence of serious purpose and planning. We ask that all applicants explain their expenses in the budget portion of the application, and that budget estimates be as accurate as possible.

9.  Does the Dalai Lama fund the program?

His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama has authorized Dalai Lama Fellows to award these Fellowships and grants in his name. However, the Dalai Lama does not currently fund our program. Private donors fund the grants as well as the operating costs of the program.

10.  What role does the faculty or community based advisor play?

Fellows are expected to find at least one faculty or community based advisor to mentor their project. An advisor has experience, knowledge and skills relevant to the proposed project and is able and willing to meet regularly with the Fellow.

Applicants may apply with an advisor already named or they can indicate a plan on how they intend to secure one before the Fellowship begins.  Additionally, an applicant may ask the campus champion and selection committee members at their school for assistance in securing an advisor.

In many cases, Fellows have more than one advisor they turn to.

11.  May teams of students apply for the Fellowship?

It is very unlikely that a team will be selected for a Fellowship. In order for a team to be selected, they must be able to explain in detailed terms why each team member is necessary to successfully accomplish their Compassion-in-Action project.

12.  Are teams eligible for a project grant of a higher amount?

No, a team is still awarded a project grant of up to $6,000.

13.  Do you have examples of past projects?

Yes, please visit our Fellows profiles landing page.

14.  What are the requirements of a Fellow, beyond the project?

After being selected and prior to attending the Ethical Leadership Assembly (ELA) in July 2016, Fellows are required to complete our ethical leadership curriculum, “Tilling the Soil“, in collaboration with their Program Coach. This curriculum will require at least 25 hours of time commitment.

Fellows are expected to attend the Ethical Leadership Assembly (ELA) from July 1 – 8, 2016 and again in July 2017. The 2016 location will be about an hour north of San Francisco, California. Dalai Lama Fellows covers the cost of room and board while there.

Prior to the 2017 ELA, Fellows will prepare a story about their Project Year.  At the convening, Fellows will be asked to present their story to the larger community, including Fellows from their own class and the incoming one, program staff, and program funders.

15.  Should the projects be domestic or international?

Projects may be domestic or international. However, we fund  projects where the Fellow can demonstrate some pre-existing network in, and experience with, the community they propose to work with, as well as the ability to engage in a sustained and meaningful way with that community.

Fellows are responsible for ensuring that their proposed project locations do not conflict with their school’s and/or country’s travel restrictions.

16.  May the Fellow do his/her work while participating in study abroad?

Because integrating the Fellowship work into the life of the campus is such a key component of the program, students spending a year abroad during their fellowship year are ineligible to apply. Students who will be studying abroad for only one term, and will be back on the home campus for the other term(s), are eligible. Applicants who will be away one term must clearly explain in their applications how they plan to integrate their project into the life of the campus community within a shorter time frame.

17.  Do you have additional questions not covered here?

For more information on Dalai Lama Fellows, please email bshah@dalailamafellows.org or call the office at 415-874-9433, x 205 between 9 am – 5 pm San Francisco time, Monday through Friday. 

October 2015