AYLF Program Model



The Fellowship Experience

Session One- The Aspen Experience

The Aspen Experience is a joyous orientation for fellows to learn more about the rich history of the Aspen Institute, experience a fellowship session, set expectations for the months ahead, and engage in a Community Dinner with family members, loved ones, and local stakeholders to welcome the cohort to an amazing experience.

Session Two- The Good Society

In the spirit of Aspen’s greatest tradition, fellows take a retreat to a place of pristine wilderness to “get away” from their everyday lives. The fellows examine the values of the good society, discuss the change they want to see in the world, contemplate their shared roles in realizing these visions, and create bonds that will last a lifetime.

Session Three- Challenge of Leadership: Who Am I?

Through deep and critical reflection, fellows truly clarify their values and how they influence their approach to leadership. Fellows also take time to deconstruct and reconstruct the concept of leadership and what it means to them and our society.

Session Four- Challenge of Leadership: Who Are We?

Fellows view their community in a new light. Through an Afternoon of Service, Community Action Walks, diving deep into the roll empathy can play when creating change, and the idea of Collective Leadership, the fellows will truly answer the question who are we?

Session Five- Change Strategies

The fellows break down complex concepts such as the role power plays in our communities, how to best enact direct action, and the strategies those who have come before us utilized to create change.

Session Six- Co-Creating Change

After the in-depth analyzation of the concepts regarding how to create change, it is time to apply them to their Community Impact Project. With the help of community advisors, the fellows will choose the project they will enact within their community and create strategies to best accomplish their goals.

Session Seven- Inspiring Direct Action

Fellows embark on a trip to a “Sister City” such as New Orleans or Chicago. Through this experience, fellows learn from change makers in a city that, on the surface may seem very different but is dealing with similar community issues experienced in the cohorts’ respective localities. The fellows apply the inspiration and lessons gained from pollical leaders, activists, artists, community elders, and even the historical context of the city to their own community to help create the change they wish to see.

Session Eight- Project Implementation Bootcamp

With the help of community stakeholders, fellows polish their final plan to enact sustainable positive change in their community. External community consultants with experience in marketing, budgeting, event planning, and other areas important to the success of the project review the cohort’s plan to make sure the Community Impact Plan is fire tested and ready to start.

Session Nine- Sustainable Action

Project sustainability is one of the major goals for the fellows to achieve through the Community Impact Project. During our penultimate session, the fellows will learn how to sustain both themselves and the movements they hope to ignite during their lifelong, change-making efforts.

Session Ten- Building a Life of Meaning

As the program comes to an end, our fellows use the closing session to discuss their individual and collective futures and how they will move their lives from success to significance. The cohort gathers for one final time during the fellowship experience to celebrate the achievements of our fellows with a graduation and pinning ceremony before entering the alumni network.

Community Impact Project

The Community Impact Project (CIP) is an experiential capstone project that takes place within an 8-week internship period. The CIP provides space for fellows to address a significant community issue resulting in meaningful, sustainable change within their respective localities. The cohort receives $2,500 in seed money to fund their initiative. As a fellow, the cohort collectively:

  • Identifies a project topic.
  • Conducts research and collects data on root causes and potential solutions to the community issue.
  • Meets with community organizations, stakeholders, and constituents.
  • Designs a strategic plan and develops short and long-term goals.
  • Engages external consultants to refine core elements of the project plan.
  • Implement the community impact project, evaluate impact, and determine methods for sustainability.