American Express Leadership Academy

The American Express Leadership Academy is a signature program of the Leadership funding theme. Founded in 2008 in partnership with the Center for Creative Leadership, today the Leadership Academy includes five nonprofit partners, encompasses nine separate programs, spans four countries and impacts hundreds of high-potential emerging leaders annually. The curriculum of the American Express Leadership Academy focuses on building the personal, business and leadership skills needed to run a successful nonprofit organization. Each Academy is tailored to fit cultural nuances and different nonprofit niche needs, although the following core elements are consistent across all Academies:

  • A focus on high-potential, emerging leaders. A competitive nomination and selection process seeks to build a diverse cohort of nonprofit managers who represent a range of experiences, backgrounds, and industries. At this time we do not accept applications from individuals but identify nonprofit organizations whose executives nominate their high-potential emerging leaders to apply.
  • A curriculum blending personal leadership skills with business skills. American Express partners with a premier nonprofit organization with experience and deep insights in nonprofit leadership development. American Express's senior executives and invited nonprofit leaders speak to real-life execution of personal leadership principles and business topics relevant to nonprofit management, bringing the classroom discussions to life.
  • An assessment-based approach, including one-on-one coaching and formal follow-up activities To ensure the Leadership Academy has a lasting impact and to measure its effectiveness, participants set goals and action plans during training and have access to follow-up support in the form of coaching sessions, online networking tools, leadership goal checkpoints and a six-month or one-year review post-program.

By nonprofit partner, the programs offered under the American Express Leadership Academy umbrella are:

Center for Creative Leadership (New York, NY and various U.S. cities)
The Center for Creative Leadership (CCL®) is a top-ranked, global provider of executive education that develops better leaders through its exclusive focus on leadership education and research.

In June 2008 CCL and American Express launched the inaugural American Express Leadership Academy for 24 participants representing national and local nonprofit organizations – many of whom have an existing relationship with American Express. Today, the CCL program serves 48 participants twice a year at American Express's headquarters in New York, NY.

To provide the intensive leadership training experience to smaller, more grassroots organizations, in 2010 American Express and CCL added a Leadership Academy for emerging leaders in the Points of Light network. This Academy serves 24 people annually during the National Conference on Volunteering and Service.

Thunderbird School of Global Management (Glendale, AZ):

Thunderbird holds over 60 years of experience in developing leaders with the global mindset, business skills and social responsibility necessary to create lasting value for organizations and communities.

The American Express Leadership Academy at Thunderbird targets up to 30 emerging leaders from across the globe, representing leading international nonprofit organizations or NGOs. The five-day program provides practical opportunities to learn and build personal leadership skills while also building the organizational capacity of their organizations.

Common Purpose (London, UK and New Delhi, India):
Common Purpose is an independent and international not-for-profit organization that has designed and delivered leadership development courses for over 30,000 people in 11 countries since 1989.

In 2010 American Express partnered with Common Purpose to create a Leadership Academy in the UK. The Leadership Academy brings together 25 emerging leaders from some of the UK's leading charities, including community, education, international relief and cultural organizations.

In 2011 India became the fourth country to host the Leadership Academy initiative. The inaugural India Leadership Academy graduated 23 emerging leaders from organizations that support causes such as child rights, education and environment. Beginning in 2012, the India Academy grew to graduate 45 participants.

Japan Philanthropic Association (Tokyo, Japan):
The Japan Philanthropic Association (JPA) was established in 1960 to build a civil society where all citizens collaborate on enhancing philanthropic initiatives. JPA focuses on improving philanthropic skills and knowledge by organizing seminars and building a network of leaders from various fields.

The Japan Academy runs twice a year for Japanese nonprofit emerging leaders, mixing problem-solving activities with presentations by American Express business leaders and local nonprofit leaders.

Entrepreneurial Training for Innovative Community (Tokyo, Japan):
Entrepreneurial Training for Innovative Community (ETIC) works to encourage "entrepreneurial leadership" for social innovation.

With ETIC, American Express launched the Service Academy for Social Entrepreneurs, designed for leading nonprofit social entrepreneurs who have demonstrated impact for more than five years. Participants gain a deeper understanding of customers to improve their service through interactive sessions and speakers from the nonprofit and business sector.

Ashoka (New York, NY):
Ashoka strives to shape a global, entrepreneurial, competitive citizen sector; one that allows social entrepreneurs to thrive and enables the world's citizens to think and act as changemakers.

American Express Emerging Innovator Boot Camp is a two-day training intensive designed specifically for social entrepreneurs. Fifteen participants receive mentoring from key thought leaders, promotion and opportunities for collaboration – tools to rapidly scale their social enterprises in an impactful way.

American Express and Ashoka extends the impact of the Boot Camp beyond the 15 participants through an online campaign, which includes #SocEntChats twitter postings and online interviews with thought leaders.