Seeding Power Fellowship – FAQ

The following questions and answers are intended to tell you everything you need to know about the Seeding Power Fellowship. We are constantly updating this list, but if you still have questions, please contact Adam Liebowitz at adam@northstarfund.org.

Why should I apply to be a Seeding Power fellow?

Because you’ve spent years working for an equitable food system that honors the dignity of all people, animals, and land involved in it. You know that having some time and space to learn and strategize with other leaders can help grow your organization, and form relationships to build the movement we need.

When will the fellows be announced?

The inaugural cohort will be selected by the end of March, 2019, and an announcement will follow soon after.

Who is eligible to apply?

Your work must be primarily located in NYC, Hudson Valley or Long Island, focused on improving some aspect of the food system, and be affiliated with a nonprofit organization. You also must be a leader at that organization with significant influence and decision-making authority. Your affiliation with the nonprofit can be as a member, staff, or part of the board. The ideal fellow has many years experience, and can articulate their goals for this fellowship in terms of its impact on themselves and their organization.

What if my organization uses a fiscal sponsor?

Seeding Power is for individuals and organizations in the nonprofit sector. If you use a fiscal sponsor then presumably you are doing work that is eligible for some type of grant funding or charitable donations, and so you are eligible for Seeding Power. Your organization does not have to be an incorporated nonprofit with 501c3 status from the IRS. It is the nature of your work we are focused on. When you apply, the “organization” discussed in your application would be the one that you work for, and not your fiscal sponsor.

What defines an “experienced leader” that you’re looking for?

All organizations have different structures and cultures, and so there is no hard and fast rule here. Seeding Power is not designed for early career or entry level participants. Fellows should be able to think strategically about themselves and their organizations, and be in a position to implement any changes necessary. Most fellows will be part of the leadership at an organization, or be in charge of a specific program or initiative.

Are government employees eligible?

This is a question we grappled with during the design. For this pilot year, the answer is no. However, if a government employee is a member of any nonprofit associations or groups, even as part of their government job, then they are eligible to apply on behalf of that organization (such as Farm Bureau).

Is it ok if my organization does not work only in the Seeding Power region?

Yes. The issues faced by our communities are not confined by political boundaries, and we don’t expect that all of your work is either. The person applying should spend a significant portion of their time however working in NYC, the Hudson Valley and/or Long Island.

What do you consider the Hudson Valley?

Westchester, Rockland, Putnam, Orange, Dutchess, Ulster, Sullivan, Columbia, Greene, Delaware, Rensselaer, Albany and Schoharie counties.

What do you consider “food system” work?

Food touches everything, so this is a very broad category. Seeding Power is looking for leaders whose work focuses heavily on some aspect of the food system: whether that is part of the food chain (growing, processing, transporting, selling, consuming, or disposing), or the set of policies, structures, and other forces that impact the food chain. This work does not have to be the sole focus of the organization, but it should be a significant part of the applicant’s work.

Do I have to work for a nonprofit to apply?

You do not have to be employed by a nonprofit, but you must be a leader with significant influence and decision-making authority. Your affiliation with the nonprofit can be as a member, staff, or part of the board. The organization should be a registered 501c3 nonprofit organization, or have a fiscal sponsor.

What does a Seeding Power fellow receive?

Each fellow will receive $5,000 upon joining the fellowship. More importantly, a fellow gets 18 months to learn and strategize about their own growth, the growth of their organization, and of the larger food movement. Towards this end, there will be five 2.5-day retreats, monthly peer coaching calls with three fellows per coaching circle, regular check-ins with a designated  accountability partner at the fellow’s home organization, self-directed site visits to other nonprofit organizations, and a final culminating project of the fellow’s design.

What can a fellow spend the $5,000 on?

All selected fellows will receive a $5,000 stipend, paid as individual income and will be issued a 1099 at the end of the year. This money is unrestricted and can be used towards anything. The stipend is intended to compensate for the time each fellow will spend as part of the fellowship.

Will my organization get any funding?

At this time, the answer is no. However, this may change by the launch of the fellowship in March. It is our goal to have a pot of money reserved as organizational stipends, which the fellows themselves will divvy up in an equitable way based on their own assessments of need.

What is the time commitment required of each fellow?

In between meeting times, fellows should dedicate approximately 5-10 hours per month of individual self study (including site visits), in between session assignments, and connecting with others in the fellowship.

Can you tell me more about the projects each participant will complete?

The Seeding Power curriculum was designed to be emergent and responsive to the specific fellows in each cohort, and the projects are the most customizable aspect of that. Each fellow is expected to demonstrate the impact of their learning journey through some type of project, but that can take many forms. A fellow may work individually, with other fellows, or the whole cohort make work on something together. The project may be fully realized and completed during the fellowship, or it may be just a design for future work to be initiated later. Accordingly, a fellow is not expected to start the fellowship with a project in mind. However, during the application process applicants will be asked to identify goals and impacts they would like to accomplish for themselves and their organization.

What are the specific dates and locations of the retreats and other commitments?

In addition to the dates listed below, fellows are expected to participate in monthly peer coaching calls, and conduct three self-directed site visits on their own time.  All retreat locations are in the Hudson Valley, and each retreat will start mid-day on Thursday and end after dinner on Saturday. Specific dates as follows (note: these new November dates reflect a change made on Jan 12th).

  • Introductory webinar: March 27th or 28th (TBD)
  • Retreat #1: May 9 -11, 2019 @ Stony Point Center
  • Retreat #2: July 11-13, 2019 @ Bailey Farms
  • Retreat #3: September 19-21, 2019 @ Bailey Farms
  • Retreat #4: November 14-16, 2019 @ The Watershed Center
  • Retreat #5: February 6-8, 2020 @ The Dutchess
  • Project Presentations: TBD June, 2020
  • Final Celebration: TBD August, 2020

Who is funding the Seeding Power Fellowship?

All funds for the Seeding Power Fellowship have come from the Community Food Funders Steering Committee, in the form of grants made to North Star Fund.

This all sounds great, are there other food-related leadership programs out there?

Yes! A few we want to immediately call out are the Castanea Fellowship (deadline January 16, 2019), HEAL Food Alliance’s School of Political Leadership (applications opening soon), and the Wallace Center’s Food System Leadership Network (rolling applications) and Food Systems Mentorship Program (deadline January 15, 2019). These programs all pull from a national audience. Closer to home, there is Cornell’s LEAD-NY program (deadline March 1, 2019) that accepts participants from NY and all New England states. Finally, the designers of the Castanea Fellowship catalogued a vast network of leadership programs, which is available online as an appendix in their concept paper.