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The Obama Foundation Scholars Program at Columbia University

The Obama Foundation Scholars Program at Columbia University is accepting applications for the 2021-2022 program until February 5, 2021 at 5:00 pm ET.


The Obama Foundation Scholars Program at Columbia University is a full-time, fully-funded leadership development program that brings together rising leaders from the United States and around the world who have demonstrated a commitment to finding solutions to challenges in their communities, countries, and regions. Over the course of an academic year at Columbia University, Obama Foundation Scholars deepen their knowledge and skills and build new capacities and networks to accelerate their impact in their home countries.



Upon completion of the program, Obama Foundation Scholars, empowered by their experience, return to the regions where they have been working and continue along a path of service.

Eligibility Requirements

The Obama Foundation Scholars Program at Columbia University seeks rising leaders from the United States and around the world who meet the following criteria:

  • Are emerging leaders who have made meaningful contributions to their field and are now at a “breakthrough moment” in their careers

  • Have a proven commitment to service and leadership within a community, region or country, coupled with a demonstrated commitment to return to these communities following their completion of the program and apply their enhanced training, skills, and connections on a long-term basis for the benefit of these communities

  • Are fluent in English (verbal, written, and spoken)

  • Have the ability and inclination to positively shape the future of their community

  • Have a demonstrated commitment to humility, integrity, inclusivity, stewardship, fearlessness, imagination, and teamwork

Cohort Profile

Since 2018, the Obama Foundation Scholars Program at Columbia University has welcomed:

  • 34 rising leaders from 29 countries who have demonstrated a commitment to finding solutions to challenges in their communities, countries, and regions

  • Scholars who were, on average, 35 years of age, with ages ranging from 25 to 45

  • Emerging institutional and movement leaders addressing a range of challenges, including strengthening governance, increasing access to high-quality healthcare, environmental sustainability, and promoting women’s rights and ending gender-based violence

Nominating a Candidate

Please see the link below to a short form to complete to tell us about the candidate you are nominating. With the submission of this form, an automated email will be sent to the person you are nominating to provide the nominee with more information about the program and an invitation to complete an online application. If you are interested in learning more about the program’s eligibility requirements or what the online application process entails, please visit the program application page.

Please note the following:

  • Nominating a candidate does not increase their chances of being selected for the program and multiple nominations of the same candidate will not increase their chances of being accepted.

  • Applicants do not have to be nominated to apply.

  • You may complete this form more than once if you know more than one candidate who meets the eligibility requirements.

  • Please do not nominate yourself. If you are interested in being considered for the program, please complete and submit an application. Visit our application page to learn more.

  • Those running for public office during the program year are ineligible to apply.

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