About AYLF

Our Mission

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. The fellowship is designed to:

  • Connect talent to opportunity
  • Develop passions into purpose
  • Transform vision into action

The Leadership Gap

Youth leadership development is too often left to happenstance or fails to achieve durable impact at a time when communities and the nation are starved for highly competent, effective, authentic, and socially conscious values-based leaders.

  • Only 1 in 10 businesses believe a college education adequately prepares graduates with necessary workforce skills (Gallup, 2014).
  • Only 50% of colleges and universities offer formalized leadership programming. This dramatically reduces the diversity and readiness of the workforce.
  • The impact of the lack of formalized leadership development has dramatic consequences for local leadership pipelines and the ability for all sectors to optimize impact.

Our Approach

The Aspen Young Leaders Fellowship (AYLF) addresses the deep need for future principle-based leaders in our more stressed communities by identifying, nurturing, networking and launching an annual cohort of select future leaders from a cross the community.

AYLF is designed to rebuild communities’ leadership talent pools. Over the course of four years, AYLF moves from community-supported to community-owned by partnering with critical, highest-quality institutions and investing in local adult and organizational capacities.

The Path Forward

Our longer-term goals are to deepen our roots in existing cities and expand into new ones, to graduate a critical mass of 400+ fellows by 2023 and to develop future leaders that have the capacity to address our most compelling social, political, and scientific issues in their communities. We will simultaneously build the capacity of adults and organizations to deliver high-impact leadership development far beyond the boundaries of any single fellowship, launch sustainable community impact projects, and provide a powerful network to shepherd fellows’ life-long development.

The AYLF team capitalizes on contemporary behavior science and the power of the Aspen Institute intellectual property to create a systems-based approach to individual transformation, leadership development and community impact. We are seeking funding, programmatic, and community partners ready to help fuel growth for years.

Designed for Success

What sets AYLF apart and guarantees longterm impact is its sustainability model. The program intentionally cultivates local adult stakeholders through community anchor institutions who, with support and training from the AYLF team, will grow to own and execute the program over time. Thus, impact is not contingent on the success of a single, young change-maker and whether they stay in or leave a locality. Instead, the community benefits from developing a critical mass of young leaders while simultaneously cultivating local adult and organizational talents to accelerate and sustain these efforts.

The AYLF curriculum is designed to accelerate personal and leadership development as well as fellows’ understandings of how to effectuate change individually and collectively both in and outside of systems. Each year, ~30 youth between the ages of 18-22 are selected from each locality based on their talent and potential. The program lasts one year and includes 150 seminar hours.

Why Us?

The Aspen Institute is uniquely positioned to deliver on program impact. Over the Institute’s 70-year history, we perfected our model of cultivating nonpartisan, values-based leaders through text-based dialogue and the exchange of ideas. AYLF is modeled on the highly successful core of fellowships in the Aspen Global Leadership Network (AGLN) but modified by experts in youth learning and development to meet the needs of young people. The power of AGLN cannot be overstated. AGLN has graduated more than 3,000 global leaders serving from 50 countries and across sectors. AGLN Fellows are positioned to serve as mentors, guest speakers, and community impact project coaches for AYLF Fellows. AYLF participants, graduates, and their communities will benefit exponentially from this powerful network.