Future Fellows for Democracy

A program that aims to identify and support extraordinary leaders working on the most compelling and bold new ideas to strengthen and advance American democracy.



Futures Fellows for Democracy is a program that aims to identify and support extraordinary leaders working on the most compelling and bold new ideas to strengthen and advance American democracy. This year, we aim to support an inaugural cohort of up to 5 Fellows with grants to their organizations. Betting early on exceptional talent, the program is designed to help lift up the next generation of democracy champions, offering them access to professional development opportunities, mentorship, and a forum to cultivate relationships that will catalyze the impact of their work. 


While we are not the first initiative committed to strengthening American democracy, we know that collaboration with other organizations in this space will help to amplify the impact we all can make. We look forward to working with this community and sharing opportunities and lessons learned in the months to come. 


In its inaugural year, Futures Fellows for Democracy will select Fellows with unique and innovative approaches to building an inclusive, multiracial democracy in particular. Under this banner, we will look for Fellows with new ideas that will make our democracy more representative, vibrant, and racially just.


The application is slated to open in late 2022.  Shortlisted candidates will be invited to participate in a final round with selections slated for early 2023.  Applications will be by nomination.

Who we’re looking for

  • Exceptional talent; the best and brightest doing democracy work Individuals with an impressive track record but even more impressive potential for future impact 
  • Individuals with a compelling, innovative approach and/or a big new idea to help strengthen American democracy 
  • Of particular interest to us are massive, risky bets (moonshots) with long lead times. We are eager to bet early on an exceptional leader with a potentially game-changing idea.
  • Individuals who are obsessed with the ability to scale, especially by using advanced tools and technology, along with a desire to advance American democracy at the state or national level 
  • Individuals with diverse backgrounds who are representative of the democracy we’re trying to advance and protect, who are committed to furthering the cause of equity and inclusion  


What we’ll offer to Fellows

  • Access to funding in the form of a grant or gift to support their organization 
  • Access to senior leadership at Schmidt Futures and experts from across our network to inform and support their projects
  • Access to a professional coach to support their growth and professional development 
  • Access to the broader community of Futures Fellows for Democracy over time to exchange ideas, facilitate collaboration, and find meaningful support through the inevitable challenges of this work 
  • Access to special convenings and events related to democracy reform

What we expect from Fellows

  • Commitment to building a new venture or idea in the democracy space for the next 5+ years
  • A pledge to make a career in and around the democracy space longer-term
  • Full participation in all fellowship programming 
  • Willingness to support and participate in other Schmidt Futures’ endeavors and initiatives
  • Willingness to nominate, interview, and recruit other Fellows
  • Willingness to “open source” their project so that other leaders in other geographies can replicate and benefit from their work