"Filantrofilia Fellows" - Tomorrow's Social Leaders

"Filantrofilia Fellows" - Tomorrow's Social Leaders

Alvaro Obregon, MexicoMexico
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
$1 million - $5 million
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

We have a way for tomorrow’s Mexican social leaders to gain meaningful experience in the sector with today’s leaders. We will match young Fellows with NGOs where they will work at a high level within the three organizations for a 6-month practicum. We will facilitate regular “best practices” and leadership seminars to promote participants' reflective practice and experiential learning.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

In Mexico, many organizations that work in the social sector, on as many issues as any one person can imagine. However, there is no career path for professionals to access the social sector in Mexico. Some people come to employment in this sector after lackluster attempts in governmental bureaucracy. Others enter the social sector with secondary projects, while they are still employed in business and industry. In Filantrofilia’s work rating NGOs throughout the country, we have simply not seen any sort of social sector specific leadership opportunities. There is no respected pathway for talented individuals to access social development programs, unless it is through government. We will try to break the bureaucratic inertia and seed professionalism within the Mexican social sector.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

We are prepared to launch a 6 month fellowship for recent university graduates who are passionate about the Mexican social sector. We will offer this competitive, paid program for candidates who, based on their applications, are poised to become the social sector’s leaders and entrepreneurs of tomorrow. We will collaborate with NGOs that have been highly rated using our methodology to choose suitable candidates to match with individual NGOs, anywhere in Mexico. The 6 month fellowship will consist of 2 month placements in 3 NGOs of different sizes, with different areas of interest. Successful candidates will serve as executives-in-training within the NGOs, responsible for one project at each site, supervised and mentored by the Executive Director. Candidates and NGO mentors will also participate in two types of seminars with Filantrofilia staff: one highlighting international best practices in the social sector, and one related to personal leadership development.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

For our pilot program, we plan to match 3 competitive domestic candidates to a diverse array of 9 top rated Mexican NGOs. Fellows will complete intense two month rotations in one small, one medium, and one large NGO, as their 6 month fellowship. Fellows will have complete access to the NGOs' daily operations, and will shadow the Executive Directors as they manage daily and extraordinary events. We will only place individuals with the collaboration and consent of the NGO that will receive the placement, and the NGOs will have to propose a project for the Fellows to complete as part of the NGOs’ own selection process. These candidates will work full time for the NGOs they are matched with, and they will be paid a living stipend by Filantrofilia. Filantrofilia will also facilitate distance workshops on international management best practices, and personal leadership development using ICTs so that Fellows can continue their professional development, consider their experiences and become part of a reflective community of practice. NGOs often have a need for extra, qualified, motivated manpower, but either cannot afford the extra salary or encounter recruitment difficulties. Also, there is no career path for young professionals interested in the Mexican social sector. We will contribute to a national and international discourse on the topic by creating a competitive, desirable program that allows tomorrow's social leaders to critically consider their experiences in the social sector at an especially formative period in their lives, and develop as part of a network of peers.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

We have two peers whose work complements our proposal. 1) All Mexican university students complete unpaid community service internships to graduate. These internships are often superficial and do not give students a sense of future career opportunities within the social sector, and might initially be an impediment to our program because of people’s negative perception of their “social service” experience. Our program would give a few young individuals the chance to experience meaningful work in the Mexican social sector. 2) The Mexican Center for Philanthropy (CEMEFI) is the public philanthropic resource. CEMEFI generally promotes social responsibility and philanthropy. CEMEFI does not have programs to encourage future social leaders to gain meaningful cross-sector access or experience.

Founding Story

Our Executive Director, Edgar Herrera, conceived of this program. This initiative is an adaptation of the League of American Orchestras' Orchestra Management Fellowship program, which Mr. Herrera participated in, and which launched his career in the social sector. After Filantrofilia was launched, he quickly realized that there was no reliable pathway or program for emerging entrepreneurs and professionals to become involved in the social sector in Mexico and do work they could be sure would be meaningful. This initiative has been put on the back burner for a few years, as Filantrofilia has been establishing itself as a leader in social evaluation in Mexico. Now, three years later, we think that we are at a critical juncture in our organization, where it is now imperative to work on innovative initiatives to increase the profile and respectability of the social sector in Mexico, particularly among the business community and the social entrepreneurs and leadership of tomorrow.
About You
About You
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About Your Organization
Organization Name


Organization Country
Country where this project is creating social impact
Age of Innovator


Gender of Innovator


How long has your organization been operating?

1‐5 years

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How long have you been in operation?

Operating for 1‐5 years

Social Impact
What solution(s) does your initiative address to help emerging entrepreneurs and small businesses grow and thrive in underserved communities? (select all applicable)

Access to talent, Access to economic opportunity.

What has been the impact of your solution to date?

This program has not yet been implemented, and is being developed to elevate the profile and prestige of high-level employment in Mexicans social sector organizations. It is modeled after the League of American Orchestras’ Orchestra Management Fellowship Program. This program is “designed to identify, attract and provide 'fast-track' training for exceptionally talented managers,” giving them specific projects to carry out, as well as virtually unfettered access to high-level orchestral management decision-making. Alumni of this selective program have since progressed in their careers to high-ranking orchestral management positions in major national orchestras such as Philadelphia, New York, Dallas, and Detroit. We hope that our program will have a similar transformational impact on employment prospects in the Mexican social sector.

What is your projected impact over the next 1-3 years?

Assuming the success of our pilot program, and expansion to a maximum capacity of 10-12 participants annually, we project direct participation of approximately 35 individuals and about 100 NGOs over the course of next three years. We would also anticipate a direct positive impact on our ratings of Mexican NGOs, since a high rating would be a prerequisite for an NGO to be able to partner with this program. More indirect impact would be changes in the conversation related to the social sector in Mexico by implementing this program, and we would measure these changes in terms of (1) media coverage of the social sector,(2) increasing numbers of applicants to our program, and (3) survey measures of attitudes and behavior related to the social sector from our program participants.

What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?

We consider two barriers main barriers that might hinder the success of the project. 1) There might be a lack of excitement from the NGOs, because they could feel that it is a very large investment of their time and do not see a similarly large benefit. We will involve them in this important cultural shift from the beginning, to facilitate stakeholder buy-in. 2) Selected Fellows might drop out due to the program’s intensity. We will take this into consideration as we choose Fellows and be very clear about the time commitment the Fellowship will require for its six-month duration.

Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact

Successful completion of first cohort of 3 participants

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your six-month milestone
Task 1


Task 2

Recruitment and liaison activities

Task 3

Designing and piloting leadership seminar curriculum

Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone

Expansion to 5-7 participants per semester

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your 12-month milestone
Task 1

Completion of 6-month milestone (see above)

Task 2

Adapting both program and leadership seminar for a larger group

Task 3

Ensuring continued quality of activities

Tell us about your partnerships

We maintain partnerships with a variety of strategic Mexican governmental, corporate, and nongovernmental organizations, among them: Nacional Monte de Piedad, Promotora Social México, Telmex, la Asociación de Bancos de México (ABM), la Secretaría de Desarrollo Social (SEDESOL), Fundación Legorreta Hernández, and ViiV Healthcare. These organizations subsidize the ratings we carry out with ground-level NGOs, use our ratings to inform their philanthropic giving to maximize its impact, and promote the value of Filantrofilia’s social rating service, as well as Filantrofilia, throughout Mexico.

Please elaborate on any needs or offers you have mentioned above and/or suggest categories of support that aren't specified within the list