Frequently Asked Questions
Who is eligible to apply?
Our program is focused on next-generation leaders (individuals between 20-35 years of age) who are enrolled in undergraduate and graduate schools at the time of applying and who intend to be enrolled and on campus during their Fellowship year. We also accept applications from individuals whom are no longer enrolled in school but that fall in this age range and whom are committed to work in social change.
How do you select your Fellows?
When we evaluate our candidates, what we search for is a genuine intention to learn new practices and perspectives that will increase (1) their self-awareness, (2) their ability to connect to and have concern for others, even when there are differences, and (3) their ability to recognize our interdependence by connecting with communities and people beyond their immediate project or local community.
All of our Fellows propose social change projects in their local communities that address one or more of six key areas (improving cross-cultural and interreligious cooperation, diminishing violence, increasing gender equity, mitigating economic disparity, improving public education, and enhancing environmental sustainability).
Fellows must show that they are deeply familiar with the community that they are proposing to work in and with and they also must have a well researched justification for the issue that they are choosing to work on.
Unlike many other Fellowships, Dalai Lama Fellows is not just focused on social impact. Rather, our focus is on the individual and their inner transformation as intertwined with the transformations in the world which they seek to engender, and how they learn to lead differently. Therefore evaluating the applicant's intention and commitment is just as important as the strength of their project proposal.
What does the application process consist of?
Applicant Background and Overview
January 31, 2019: Application Deadline
April 2019: Fellows Selected
May 2019: Fellows Virtual Onboarding
June 2019: Five Day Global Assembly hosted at the University of Virginia in partnership with its Contemplative Sciences Center
July 2019-June 2020: Virtual Head, Heart, Hands Curriculum, Monthly Coaching, Group Learning, and Graduation at Global Assembly
Do I have to be affiliated with one of your partners in order to apply?
The application is open to all students from any institution and any country who are drawn to our approach to reimagined leadership.
What does the year-long curriculum consist of?
We use an online learning platform to host our year-long Head, Heart, Hands curriculum. The curriculum works to build three core competencies: Connections to Self (the ‘I,’ or individual), move to Connections to Others (the ‘we,’ or relationships we make), and then to Connections Beyond (the ‘it’, the systems in which we are interdependently embedded). The curriculum is processed through individual reading and reflection exercises, team-based activities, and one-on-one monthly coaching.
How have past Fellows been impacted by your curriculum/program? (What are examples of learning outcomes?)
Through our program Fellows have deepened their self awareness and they have strengthened their ability to form meaningful connections with others on their team, in their communities, and with individuals beyond their communities. Beyond their Fellowship year, Fellows have expressed how the new perspectives and practices that they learned from our curriculum, coaching, and global community have been personally transformative and also made an impact on their approach to social change.
Do you offer any funding for projects?
We do not offer funding for projects. Based on what we have learned from seven years of programming, we have gleaned that the most meaningful elements of our program for Fellows is our curriculum, coaching, and global community. We encourage Fellows to search for and develop other creative sources of project funding and their program coach can serve as a guide in this area.
Can you give examples of projects?
All projects focus on one or more key areas of social change - mitigating economic disparity, increasing gender equity, enhancing environmental sustainability, improving cross-cultural and interreligious cooperation, improving public education, and diminishing violence. A few examples of these project areas are:
Improving cross-cultural and interreligious cooperation and diminishing violence: 2015 African Leadership Academy Fellow, Ngor Majak Anyieth: Education Bridge, which seeks to create flourishing South Sudanese communities through peacebuilding and holistic education. The vision of Education Bridge is twofold - to provide education to youth in South Sudan and to promote peace-building and conflict resolution skills among their students.
Increasing gender equity: 2016 World Merit Fellow, Sadaf Taimur: “Valuing Inclusion and Diversity”, which addressed the roots of gender inequality in five different schools across Pakistan by implementing a capacity building curriculum that supported children and youth in linking their shared inner values to respect, acceptance, tolerance, equity, fairness and equality.
Enhancing environmental sustainability and mitigating economic disparity: 2016 Nalanda Fellow, Abinash Mohanty: Project “Anwesha”, which was centered around the Tanga community - a traditional horse cart community based in Rajgir, Bihar - and focused on harvesting manure from horses and using it to electrify the homes of Tanga workers and their families.
Do I have to complete my project within the Fellowship year?
No, many of our Fellows continue to work on their projects beyond their Fellowship year. We do expect Fellows to complete their intended goals for their projects during the Fellowship year.
Do I have to be located near the community where my project is taking place?
We require that Fellows have meaningful, consistent, and immersive engagement with the project and the community throughout the Fellowship year. We highly prefer Fellows who are living in close proximity to the community where their project is being implemented. If you are proposing a project that is located in a different city, state, or country from where you will be residing during the Fellowship year, then you must prove to us through your application how you will be engaged with your project and community in a meaningful and consistent way. Fellows must also demonstrate at least six months of experience with the community they propose to work with.
May the Fellow do his/her work while participating in study abroad?
We strongly prefer that Fellows are located in close proximity to their project communities in order to have meaningful and consistent engagement throughout the Fellowship year. Students who will be studying abroad for only one term, and will be back on the home campus for the other term(s), may be eligible depending on how they have thought through their Fellowship year.
Can I still apply if I will be graduating midway through the Fellowship year?
Yes as long as you will still be located near your project community. If you will be located elsewhere, you must demonstrate in your project timeline how you plan on maintaining meaningful and consistent engagement with your project and the community that your project is impacting.
Do I have to be interested in Buddhism to apply?
No. This is a secular and ecumenical program of the the University of Virginia. We are equal opportunity in outlook, and value diversity in both background and perspectives.
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.
Who funds the program?
A variety of private donors and foundations fund the program.
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. This faculty or community based advisor must write a letter of recommendation as part of your completed application.
May teams of students apply for the Fellowship?
No. We believe that it is more impactful for individuals to apply and share their learnings with their team.
What are the requirements of a Fellow, beyond the project?
Fellows must expect to set aside approximately 6 hours a month to engage with and learn from our Head, Heart, Hands curriculum. This includes individual readings and reflections, team-based activities, monthly coaching calls, group calls, and interaction with other Fellows. In addition to the curriculum, Fellows will be asked to complete baseline, mid-year, and end of year evaluations, an end of year project portfolio, and an end of year personal transformation story that will be presented at the Global Assembly.
Will this program look different at the University of Virginia?
While the program's approach to leadership will remain consistent, the design of the cohort and structure of the program will evolve over time. For the purposes of the 2019 application, please refer to the information that we have provided about the curriculum, requirements, and expectations to understand what the 2019 Fellowship year will look like.
Can I get connected to a past Fellow to learn about his/her experience?
Yes, many of our LifeLong Fellows are willing to share about their experience. We will follow up with an email introduction to one of our LifeLong Fellows who has volunteered to answer any questions.
Can I share my project idea with you over email, Whatsapp, or video conference?
You may email firstname.lastname@example.org with any project related questions/ideas.