The Opportunity Fellows Program, an innovative leadership program for the CDFI Industry, will challenge a diverse cohort of CDFI leaders to learn about facilitating and leading systemic change (i.e., change in practices, norms and values) within their own organizations with the goal of ensuring equitable investment in underserved and disenfranchised communities.
Through the program, participants will develop the knowledge and skills to:
- Create opportunities for critical but constructive dialogue that challenges people’s values, beliefs and behaviors related to diversity, inclusion and equity;
- Evaluate organizational structures, policies and practices that either enable or discourage inclusion and equitable investment;
- Develop actionable frameworks and processes for facilitating systemic change within their organizations and the CDFI industry to promote equitable investment.
The Opportunity Fellows Program is offered by Opportunity Finance Network with generous support from BBVA Compass. The program includes experiential leadership development from world-class trainers and robust interactions with industry and community leaders.
The program works with three levels of CDFI leaders—Emerging, Mid-Career, and Executive. The program will intentionally focus on building leadership skills at each level and across levels. We expect to select 8-9 leaders from each of the three levels described below, for a total cohort of 24-27 leaders. We seek to select a cohort that reflects the diversity of the communities served by CDFIs and encourage individuals from diverse backgrounds to apply.
- Executive Leaders—Executive Directors and CEOs of CDFIs are eligible.
- Mid-Career Leaders—CDFI department heads, team leaders, program managers, and line of business leaders. Mid-career leaders will have accountability for day-to-day operations, as well as, strategic goals. They will have a minimum of three years of supervisory experience and will currently be supervising others.
- Emerging Leaders—Early-career CDFI professionals recognized by their organization’s leadership as highly capable and having the potential to contribute meaningfully to the mission of the organization. Emerging leaders will have at least three years of professional experience, of which at least one year is in the opportunity finance industry.
Preference will be given to applicants who have not participated in a CDFI industry leadership program in the past five years.
Over a period of six months (May 2018 – October 2018), the Fellows will:
- Attend two three-day training sessions in Birmingham, AL with fellow CDFI leaders and leadership development professionals. The tentative dates are May 8-10, 2018 and September 12-14, 2018.
- Attend a half-day gathering for the Opportunity Fellows during the OFN Conference in Chicago, October 8-11, 2018.
- Engage in pre-meeting assignments, assessments, and online, collaborative learning between sessions.
High-level Curriculum Topics
Session One (May 2018): Understanding Systemic Change and the Connection to Equitable Investment
- What systemic change means and what it looks like
- Understanding the differences and the relationship between diversity, inclusion and equity
- Envisioning leadership that promotes equity
Session Two (September 2018): Implementing Change for Impact
- Understanding how to plan and build towards change
- Role of emotional intelligence and cultural competency in leading successful change
- Extracting models and lessons learned from existing case studies of equitable impact
Fellowship Project: Participants will choose a project to complete over the course of the program designed to help them develop a leadership vision and action plan that achieves greater equity in CDFI investments.
OFN Conference Gathering (October 2018): Leaders will gather to present on their fellowship projects and celebrate completion of the program.
OFN will provide a travel stipend to partially offset the cost of travel and lodging; each participant’s organization is responsible for covering the difference.
Applicants must be employed by a CDFI Fund certified CDFI. Applicants must demonstrate a commitment to leading systemic change that promotes greater diversity and inclusion within their organizations and equitable investment in the underserved and disenfranchised communities their CDFI serves.
Applicants must confirm in good faith that, if they are selected to participate in the Opportunity Fellows Program, they:
- Will participate in all Program meetings, webinars, and conference calls, and cover any associated travel costs not covered by the Program stipend. Active participation means attending the full duration of Program meetings, webinars and calls; completing preparatory or follow-up assignments on time; openly sharing their professional successes, challenges, and failures with their group; and constructively engaging with their group members throughout the six-month program.
- Intend to continue working in the CDFI industry for at least two years after completing the program.
Successful applicants will:
- Demonstrate a desire to learn and apply skills to facilitate and lead systemic change within their CDFI and the broader industry that promotes greater inclusion of diverse perspectives and equitable investment in underserved and disenfranchised communities.
- Articulate clear and ambitious goals for what they want to accomplish in their careers in the CDFI industry to amplify the impact of investment and access to affordable capital in our nation’s most struggling communities.
- Value the opportunity to work with peers and those at other levels in an open and collaborative way.
- Be recognized by their supervisor and peers as an individual with leadership potential or—for current leaders--the potential to grow their leadership capacity.
- Have their organization’s commitment to support to explore an intensive and introspective approach to organizational change for equitable impact. The selected individuals will represent a range of backgrounds, experiences, and institutions.
The selected individuals will represent a range of backgrounds, experiences, and institutions.
The application deadline has passed. Thanks for your interest!
An overview of the program guidelines and application process can be downloaded here.
The process to apply is two-fold:
- First, the applicant completes an application through the online application by Monday, February 26, 2018 at midnight Eastern Standard Time. The application also requires a current résumé.
- Second, a leader from the applicant’s organization submits a letter of recommendation to Leadership@ofn.org by Monday, February 26, 2018 at midnight Eastern Standard Time.
If I have participated in another leadership program for CDFI leaders, can I apply for this program?
- Preference will be given to those who have not participated in a leadership program designed for CDFI leaders in the past five years. It is fine to have participated in community-based leadership programs.
If my organization is in the process of applying for certification, can I apply for the program?
- Only participants that are employees of CDFI Fund certified CDFIs are eligible for the Opportunity Fellows Program.
What if I have a conflict with one of the training dates or the OFN Conference?
- All applicants must commit to attending the full training sessions and OFN Conference. If your schedule conflicts with the dates for the in-person sessions, we advise that you not apply for this program.
How can I find more information?
- Contact Leadership@ofn.org if you have additional questions about the Opportunity Fellows Program.