Developing New Leaders for Tomorrow

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world." -- Mahatma Gandhi At American Express, we appreciate the impact that talented leaders can have on business and society as a whole and we dedicate significant resources to attract, develop and retain talented employees.


We are seeking the best methods, programs and partners that provide current and future nonprofit leaders with practical opportunities to learn and build leadership skills. We are especially interested in proposals that cultivate leadership opportunities for diverse communities within the nonprofit sector or that focus on innovative leadership development programs for emerging leaders of world-class institutions. Our focus is on training professionals with demonstrated commitment to the nonprofit sector in programs specifically targeted to the arts, environment, higher education and social service arenas. We will accept a limited number of requests for programs impacting emerging leaders in the public sector and requests for programs that support entrepreneurs.


Supported programs encourage leadership development for emerging leaders through one or more of the following:


  • Addressing the leadership deficit in the nonprofit sector, whether by enabling new executive directors or supporting the training and development of emerging leaders.
  • Diversifying the current landscape of nonprofit leaders.
  • Transforming organizations through best-in-class management and leadership practices, whether through board leadership, implementing management principles or expanding an organization's capacity to attract, develop and retain leadership talent.

Projects we are interested in supporting include:

  • Supporting leadership training by an organization to a wider group of organizations within the same discipline or field.
  • Supporting leadership development of an organization's local members or affiliates.
  • Supporting leadership development of an organization located in key geographic areas (see list of geographic areas here).


We do not fund leadership programs focused on youth (High School and College age). We do not support scholarships for an individual's personal leadership training.


Recent Examples


Acumen, New York, NY
Acumen is a global non-profit with a mission to create a world beyond poverty by investing in social enterprises, emerging leaders and breakthrough ideas. Acumen is seeking funding to build +Acumen, a globally-accessible online leadership academy. With 7+ years of experience running its flagship Global Fellows Programs, Acumen is using online tools to scale the impact of this traditional leadership development program so that more emerging leaders can gain the skills and networks they need to improve the lives of people around the world. The +Acumen Online Leadership Academy, a globally-accessible online leadership academy is aimed at individuals who are ready to play an active role in creating social change, whether they are students, professionals, social entrepreneurs or intrapreneurs. Participants gain access to tangible leadership skills, appreciate the nuances of social change work and grow their networks. In the first year, over 20,000 people from around the world registered for this on-line course on leadership.


American India Foundation (AIF) New York, NY
The American India Foundation is a social sector organization designed on principles of trust, transparency, and partnership, bringing people from all walks of life together in a movement to improve communities and transform India into a more open, equitable and vibrant democracy. AIF's William J. Clinton Fellowship for Service in India is one of the world's premier experiential learning programs that pairs high-potential American and Indian professionals with organizations working in the Indian development sector. Through Fellowship for Service in India, AIF is helping to shape the next generation of leaders committed to building lasting change for underprivileged communities across India, while also strengthening the civil sector landscape to be more efficient and effective. Through ten months of service and fieldwork, Fellows gain knowledge of development on the ground in the fields of education, workforce development, public health, and social enterprise, honing and harnessing their skills as agents capable of effecting lasting change. The program's thirty-seven Fellows are placed in NGOs across India so its impact is felt across the country.


Arizona State University Lodestar Center, Phoenix, AZ
The Generation Next Nonprofit Leadership Academy, presented by ASU's Lodestar Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Innovation, delivers a competitive program to a select group of emerging leaders, providing knowledge and tools for leadership development. The program includes best practice approaches to leading and managing nonprofits from the university's professors and practitioners, as well as established leaders from the nonprofit community. The curriculum is covered in nine full days, with ongoing feedback, interaction, and workshops as hallmarks of the program. The Generation Next Nonprofit Leadership Academy is designed to build the capacity of the social sector by enhancing the effectiveness of those who manage, and will ultimately lead, nonprofit organizations.

Congressional Hunger Center (CHC) Washington, DC
The Congressional Hunger Center's mission is to train and inspire leaders who work to end hunger, and to advocate public policies to create a food secure world. Founded in 1993, CHC is the nation's only organization dedicated to developing the next generation of leaders who are prepared to fight hunger and create a food secure world through grassroots efforts and public policy initiatives. The Emerson Fellowship is a year-long program that offers an exceptional opportunity for professional and personal growth through a combination of curriculum, praxis, and reflection. A set of training institutes held throughout the year provide knowledge and context for Fellow's placements. The sixteen fellows work in community-based anti-hunger organizations around the country for half a year, then move to Washington, D.C. for policy placements at national anti-hunger, anti-poverty organizations. Program investment in developing leaders from low-income communities and communities of color strengthens the nonprofit sector. The Fellowship combines curriculum, praxis, and reflection. Trainings over the year offer knowledge and context for half-year placements in community-based anti-hunger organizations and then at national anti-hunger, anti-poverty organizations in Washington, DC.


National Urban League, New York, NY
The National Urban League Emerging Leaders Program (NULEP) is a nine-month professional development opportunity for high potential leader from Urban Leagues affiliates across the nation. The program is designed to ensure a pipeline of trained professionals to assume roles as affiliate Chief Executive Officers, senior affiliate leaders and Board-level volunteers in the Urban League movement. The 20 participating leaders are prepared for key challenges at the next level and will be able to immediately apply their learning. These individuals have a proven track record of leadership in a community-based organization and aspire to fill an executive position and are prepared to assume leadership roles in their respective communities in the 12-month period following the program. Additionally, we build a network of professionals connected by this experience and committed to the success of the NUL Movement. The training combines face-to-face sessions at NUL events, webinars, and case studies for a strategic view of nonprofit management.


Theatre Communication Group (TCG) New York, NY
TCG exists to strengthen, nurture and promote the professional not-for-profit American theatre. Founded in 1961 with a grant from the Ford Foundation, TCG's constituency has grown from a handful of groundbreaking theatres to nearly 700 member theatres and affiliate organizations and more than 12,000 individuals nationwide. TCG offers its members networking and knowledge-building opportunities through our conferences, events, research and communications; and grants. The Leadership Boot Camp is an intensive, two-day workshop benefiting 10 participants in TCG's Young Leaders of Color (YLC) Program. The program opens with an orientation and Boot Camp at the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) in Greensboro, NC. This launches the expanded YLC program, central to TCG's Diversity and Inclusion initiative. TCG works closely with CCL to implement the Boot Camp curriculum tailored to each individual. The two day training focuses on refining leadership fundamentals: inclusion (involving others and becoming involved); control (decision-making and delegation); and affection (orientation to openness and trust), as well as strategies for dealing with cross-cultural communication issues. Participating leaders will undergo assessments, engage in peer learning groups, and receive one-on-one feedback from a CCL coach.

Click here for more information about other initiatives within this theme.