The Ascend Fellowship invests in a diverse cadre of leaders, well-connected, well-prepared, and powerfully positioned to build the political will, change systems, and drive the policy agenda needed for the well-being and prosperity of all children and families. 


Over the course of 18 months, Fellows commit to:

Participating in four fellowship forums;
Creating and carrying out an action plan that amplifies their vision to enable children and families to reach their full potential;
Optimizing monthly individual or peer group check-in calls.

In return, the Ascend Fellowship provides the space, inspiration, and support to develop something meaningful, including limited flexible capital to seed partnerships and aspects of their work. In addition, we leverage the Aspen Institute’s influence and reach to amplify Fellows’ leadership and bold idea.

    From Reflection to Results

    Using a cohort approach, each class of Fellows takes a personal and collective leadership journey that is grounded in the Socratic method, which calls for a critical examination of how one lives their life. More specifically, in the Ascend Fellowship, the Socratic method translates into a deliberate, reflective consideration of personal values and the attributes of leadership. Having grounded themselves in the values that drive their leadership, the Fellows move ahead to focus on vision, legacy, and strategies for increased impact and innovation that drive toward results for children and families.

    Building on a legacy of leadership

    Since its founding in 1949, the Aspen Institute has invested in the world’s leaders. The Aspen model is based on enduring values and providing a nonpartisan venue for addressing the critical issues of the day. Aspen Institute Fellowships:

    • Cultivate leaders to tackle the great challenges of our times;
    • Consist of 17 Fellowships spanning regions and issues;
    • Include global, entrepreneurial, business, education, and policy leadership programs; and
    • Leverage the creativity, energy, and resources of strong leaders and organizations.



    We sincerely appreciate the generosity of the Ann B. and Thomas L. Friedman Family Foundation, Bezos Family Foundation, Catto Shaw Foundation, Charlotte Perret Family Trust, the David and Lucille Packard Foundation, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, Liz Blake Giving Fund of the Blake Family Foundation, Merle Chambers Fund, Patrice King Brickman, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation for their generous support of the Ascend Fellowship programs.