Fellowship Program Impact

Launched in 2009, the Aspen Institute First Movers Fellowship Program is the leading global network of corporate social intrapreneurs who are collectively changing the way business is done and how success is measured. The Fellowship Program is an innovation lab and vibrant community of innovators who are creating new products, services and management practices that deliver financial value to their company and positive social and environmental outcomes for the world.

“Corporate social intrapreneurs are important new drivers of corporate behavior. They see possibilities for generating enterprise value and social impact that others miss. In doing so, they are raising the bar for business performance and redefining the measures of business success.”

– Nancy McGaw, Founder, First Movers Fellowship Program

From its inception, independent evaluation was a core component of the Fellowship experience to assess the impact of the program on four key areas: on the Fellow’s company, on the industry, on the individual Fellow, and on the Fellow’s ability to implement an innovation project.

  • Company Impact: Companies report significant return on their investment in the Fellowship. To date, 30 companies have had more than one employee selected for the program. Repeated nominations to the Fellowship signal a company’s satisfaction with the program design and delivery. Additionally, several Fellows each year are given promotions in part due to their participation in First Movers.
  • Industry Impact: A number of Fellows’ projects have either real or potential impact on how an industry does business. In 2016, the program began to strategically convene alumni to collectively address key societal challenges — from energy and organizational culture to financial inclusion. Check out our newly launched report, Tackling the Challenge of Financial Inclusion: Social Intrapreneurs Step Up, that showcases the work of Fellows who are creating pathways in their companies to bring more people into the financial system and thus creating more well-being for all.
  • Individual Growth: 70 percent of Fellows report gaining greater confidence and 74 percent report having a stronger sense of professional purpose after the program. Fellows report transformative impact in many areas; an increased level of confidence, stronger ability to advance an innovation, greater motivation and a deeper sense of purpose in their work.
  • Project Progress: Fellows move innovation projects forward during the Fellowship year. The result over ten years is the launch of projects across a wide spectrum of industries that deliver financial value to the company and positive social and environmental outcomes for the world. See past Innovation Projects.

The overall impact of the First Movers Program is assessed on an annual basis through an in-depth interview process with each participating Fellow, as well as a number of the Fellows’ Thought Partners. The results are compiled in this report, Assessing the Impact of the First Movers Fellowship Program: 2009-2016, which was released in June 2017.