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New Leaders Council

How to Apply

Please read this page carefully before beginning your application. 

To nominate someone, enter their name, email, and chapter here.

Nominees receive an email from NLC encouraging them to apply.


Profile of an NLC Fellow

  • NLC explicitly encourages people who do not see themselves or their community reflected in civic or political leadership to apply and help to change that. 

  • Fellows are in their 20s, 30s, and sometimes 40s.

  • They are rising stars in their field, on a leadership trajectory but still learning and growing.

  • If their job or life track requires an undergraduate degree, they've completed it. If it does not require an undergraduate degree, then they have the equivalent work and life experience necessary.

  • They come from diverse backgrounds & have diverse interests. Immigrants and long-time Texans. All races, every ethnicity, any religion. Cis or trans, anywhere on the gender spectrum. East side or Round Rock, SoCo or Hays County. Bankers, carpenters, chemists, brewers, organizers, business owners, volunteers, doctors, musicians, traders, teachers ... the more diverse the class, the more fellows learn from each other.

The Institute

  • The NLC-Austin Institute is a six-month leadership development and political entrepreneurship program.

  • Skills and Subject-Matter Training: Fellows learn the skills and establish the connections that will make them effective advocates for progressive policies and programs throughout the community. Topics include:

    • Leadership and progressive values
    • Communications and public relations
    • Digital strategy and new media
    • Fundraising, finance, and economics
    • Campaign management and polling
    • Diversity, equity, and inclusion, with analysis of systemic oppression
    • Public policy (for example: healthcare, education, criminal justice, energy and climate)
    • Entrepreneurial approaches to problem-solving

  • Capstone project: Fellows complete a capstone project, creating a strategic plan encompassing overall long-term personal and professional goals.

  • Mentors: Mentors are a resource that can help to ensure long term professional success. NLC board members will find a mentor in the community for each fellow, based on criteria defined by the fellow. 

  • Cost: Fellows accepted into the institute do not pay tuition. The program is free. Fellows are expected, however, to work together on a project to raise funds to pay for the next class. (Don't worry-you get plenty of help.)
    • There is an application fee of $30, which can be waived, if you request a waiver by Sep. 15, 2018.
    • If you are offered a seat in the cohort, you will be asked to pay a $200 seat deposit, which is refundable upon completion of the program.

  • Cohort: A fellowship class is between 16 and 18 people.
    • The class size means that some fantastic applicants are not accepted. We keep the class small as that's how it works best, and we go for a dynamic and diverse mix of backgrounds in the class as a whole.
    • Applicants who are not accepted are strongly encouraged to apply again for the following year, and stay connected by coming to our events and programs.
    • Some of our most outstanding NLC fellows around the country were not accepted the first time they applied. Or even the second. And some applied three or four times. 

Graduation requirements

  • To graduate from the Institute and become an official NLC Alumni, fellows complete the following requirements:
    • Attend every day of Institute
    • Develop a capstone project
    • Help to raise funds for the next year's Institute

2019 Institute Dates

  • The Institute meets one weekend per month, January - June. Below are dates for the 2019 Institute. Attendance at all dates is mandatory. We do have a policy that covers emergencies and unanticipated events. 
    • Institute 1: January 5 & 6
    • Institute 2: February 2 & 3
    • Institute 3: March 2 & 3
    • Institute 4: April 6 & 7
    • Institute 5: May 4 & 5
    • Capstone presentations and graduation: June 1

Additional time commitments

Fellows should plan to minimize volunteer activities and commitments outside of NLC while they are a fellow.  In addition to the mandatory Institute dates listed above, fellows should plan to make time for the following optional meetings and work including:

  • December or January "Meet the Fellows" social hosted by alumni
  • Monthly social hours with fellows and alumni
  • Monthly meetings with a small group of fellows to discuss capstone progress
  • 4 - 8 hours per month spent on individual research and work for capstone project
  • 1 - 2 meetings between March and June with mentor
  • Monthly meetings between March and June to learn fundraising strategies and help execute the chapter fundraising plan
  • Mid-June NLC Austin Progressive Champion Awards Fundraiser (date TBD)

Alumni benefits

  • After completing the Institute, fellows will have access to a nationwide network of more than 6,000 NLC Alumni, including opportunities for additional trainings, publication in NLC's journal The New Leader, and much more.
  • Fellows are encouraged to apply to join the local chapter board or participate in National volunteer activities once they have completed the institute to continue their leadership development and help shape and mentor future classes.
  • NLC hosts a national convention in July each year convening political and thought leaders from across the country to network with next generation leaders and gain knowledge and skills to enact progressive change in our communities. 

Application process

  • Fee

    • There is a $30 non-refundable application fee. NLC can grant waivers for extenuating circumstances. Please review the application page to learn how to request a waiver. Please request a waiver as soon as possible. The deadline to request a waiver is Sep. 15, 2018.
  • Personal information and demographics

    • NLC will ask for basic contact information, and optional demographic information. This information will be kept confidential.
  • Three short essays

    • When you start the application, you will receive additional information about NLC's core values and what we look for in an applicant. Please read this information carefully.
    • Use your essays to showcase the unique value you would bring to the NLC program, and how your values align with NLC's mission and core values
  • References

    • You will be asked to provide 2 - 3 professional references. These references may include mentors, coworkers, people you know through volunteer work, etc.
  • Resume

    • Resume may highlight personal, professional, and volunteer experience.
  • Aptitude Screening

    • Please do not worry about your score on this section. The aptitude screening consists of a series of quantitative, problem solving questions, similar to SAT questions. This is part of the electronic application systems that NLC uses nationwide.  However, the Austin Chapter Board has chosen not to utilize these scores in our application scoring. 
  • Interview

    • Our selections team evaluates applications anonymously in the first round, and scores all rounds according to a rubric to ensure a fair process. 
    • Applicants who score well on their essays and resumes and have potential to add value and diversity to the chapter may be invited for an interview.
    • The application process is competitive. Not all who apply will be asked to interview.
      • Because we look at overall class fit, and because more qualified people apply than we can accept, each year, some really phenomenal people are not accepted. We encourage those people to apply again. Many fellows from other NLC chapters were not accepted until their third or fourth time applying.
    • Timing:
      • The selections committee will score applications within three weeks of the application deadline, and invite selected applicants to an interview via email.
      • Please respond to any interview scheduling requests within 24 hours.
    • What to expect during the interview:
      • Attire: business casual
      • Length: 15 - 30 minutes
      • Content: Interviewers will review basic information about the Institute and graduation requirements, to make sure you are eligible for the fellowship. You can expect questions about how your personal, professional, and volunteer experience exemplifies progressive values; why you are interested in the NLC fellowship and what you hope to gain and contribute; and discuss some ideas you have been considering for your capstone project (though these need not be fully planned).
  • Selection

    • The selections committee will score each applicant on their interview, and consider these scores alongside their resume, essay, and overall class fit.
    • Within two weeks after interviews, the selections committee will meet to discuss which applicants to offer a seat to.  Generally, between 16 and 18 fellows are offered a seat.
    • Some additional applicants may be put on a wait list and will receive additional information about the timeline for potential selection of applicants from the wait list.
    • Applicants who are not selected will receive an email notifying them that they were not selected. These applicants are encouraged to apply again in future years.
  • Intake and $200 seat deposit

    • Applicants who are offered a seat in the 2019 cohort will be sent an intake form.
    • The intake form deadline is firm, and applicants who do not complete the form in time will automatically forfeit their seat to someone on the wait list.
    • The form will ask for some personal information, a head shot and biography, and qualities the fellow is looking for in a mentor.
    • Seat deposits
      • NLC requires fellows to submit a $200 deposit to secure their seat in the 2019 class.
      • Fellows will have the option of paying the deposit online via the intake system or mailing in a check, which will not be cashed unless the fellow does not meet graduation requirements.
      • Fellows who do not complete the graduation requirements for the Institute will forfeit their $200 deposit.
      • Fellows who do complete the graduation requirements for Institute will have the option of having their $200 deposit refunded to them or donating it to the funds raised for the next year's class.
      • Please follow all instructions on the intake form carefully, and abide by all deadlines.
  • Wait list

    • Some fellows who are initially selected for the cohort might later find out that they cannot meet the graduation requirements, and will decline their seat.
    • When this happens, the selections committee may choose to allow additional applicants from the wait list to join the cohort.
    • Wait-listed applicants who are offered a seat will have a shorter amount of time to complete the intake form.  If you are on the wait list, it is a good idea to have a bio and head shot ready to go in case you are offered a seat, and be prepared to pay the $200 seat deposit or mail in a check.
    • If you are put on the wait list and are ultimately not offered a seat, you are strongly encouraged to apply again next year.


Please contact Selections Co-Chairs Nakia Winfield and Cassie Champion with questions.

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