Who Should Apply?

The FIRE Fellowship is a multi-layered, experiential learning journey for leaders, activists, and social change agents committed to a path of service, and looking to expand their capacity to contribute to positive changes for the world. Our goal is to support emerging leaders from diverse backgrounds to deepen their foundation in practices of resilience and emergence, thereby increasing their capacity to serve the needs of our world, and avoid burnout at the same time. We are primarily focused on the next generation of leaders (18-30 years old). Fellows are selected through a competitive application process designed to support cohorts of emerging leaders from diverse communities. Each cohort consists of up to 18 fellows.

Why 18-30?

We consider ages 18-30 a critical time for young adults, already committed to a path of service, to deepen foundations and interconnections, and thereby expand their capacity to contribute to positive change for the world.

What are the prerequisites to apply?

  • Sustained commitment to leadership, climate and/or social justice, and service.
  • Minimum three years of active engagement in the field (activism, service project, profession, community work, etc.).
  • Ability and commitment to self-reflect, try new things, and give and receive feedback.
  • Interest in collaboration and different perspectives.
  • Experience working as part of a team or cohort or desire to do so.
  • Ability to attend all scheduled events for the fellowship and complete all accompanying projects.

When does the course meet?

2020 Calendar

What if I cannot make one of the sessions?

Each session will build on the one before it. Full attendance is required for all sessions. We have done our best to align the calendar with federal holidays and weekends, where possible, to support fellows’ ability to attend alongside work or other obligations. We recognize that the dates for the fellowship do overlap with holidays from a variety of cultures/religions, and are committed to supporting the fellows in bringing their observance practices into our time together wherever possible and desired.

How much does this fellowship cost for participants?

As part of our commitment to reducing barriers to access in education, and to supporting transformative economics, our aim is for this fellowship to be free for fellows. Tuition costs are covered for fellows, as are room and board. Additionally, fellows are granted a fellowship award to be used toward the individual service project of their choosing.

What do you mean by spirituality?

The fellowship does not follow a particular religious viewpoint, and welcomes a multiplicity of views and experiences of spirituality. And, as part of healing the long-standing dichotomy between “spirit” and “matter,” we explicitly aim to support the weaving of these elements, incorporating spiritual practices and perspectives in concert with tending to place and body, and engaging in relevant action.

What are the sources and lineages of the curriculum?

The FIRE Fellowship contains a body of work that is a combination of practices and knowledge transmitted through intergenerational relationships, ecosystems, frameworks developed by the guides, and emergent curriculum. We acknowledge that while FIRE was envisioned by TOF and developed through the collaboration of TOF and YPW, much of the curriculum is based on what we have learned from elders and others, including the lands where we work. Part of collective healing comes from learning how to acknowledge our sources. Throughout the fellowship, the guides will work to give clear acknowledgement for elements that are introduced. Learn more about the history of The Ojai Foundation and history of Youth Passageways.

Do I have to live in Southern California?

No. Our inaugural year is primarily focused on fellows with relational and professional commitments in the Central and Southern California bioregion. In addition to being home to The Ojai Foundation, this bioregion was host to the 2016 gathering for the global Youth Passageways network, where many relationships were strengthened and built. In many ways, this region is the taproot for The FIRE Fellowship. Applicants from this bioregion will be given priority for the inaugural year. Subsequent years will expand from there.

What about food?

During the sessions, participants will be responsible for preparing their own breakfast and lunch, and preparing shared dinners. The fellowship will provide for basic ingredients, and participants will supplement with their personal favorites, and/or specific food needs due to allergies or dietary restrictions, preferences, etc.

What if I have a partner, spouse, or children?

We are committed to offering a fellowship experience that is accessible to families. Consideration will be made for how to do so on a case-by-case basis. Additionally, key persons for all fellows will be invited to certain events, as part of incorporation and community building. This can include spouses, partners, children, elders, best friends, and other key people in a fellow’s life. Otherwise, the fellowship is exclusively for fellows.

What about my dog?

The Ojai Foundation land sanctuary serves as a wildlife refuge, and therefore does not allow domestic pets of any kind, including cats and dogs.

What do you mean by “community or home organization” and what is required for the optional letter to apply?

We recognize that while candidates will apply on an individual basis, many are also deeply rooted in communities of people, projects, and/or organizations that will be both involved in and influenced by their participation. This could be as simple as the practicalities of arranging work schedules, or include family care, or focused support for the candidates educational journey as part of The FIRE Fellowship. As part of our commitment to supporting healthy incorporation from transformational experiences, we seek to highlight these relationships, and engage home communities, workplaces, and relevant projects in collaboration with the fellows and the fellowship. This can and will take many forms; in terms of the application process, it is optional, but highly recommended. It can be as simple as asking one person to bear witness to your story before you begin, and again when you return. As for the letter, we invite the voice of a representative from any of said support networks, explaining the broader context from which the candidate hails, as well as some ways that the fellowship might mutually benefit the supporting community or organization, and the fellow.

What kind of projects can fellows use their monetary award for?

Projects should be aimed toward the integration of spirituality, service, and care for self, community, and the world. Projects are intended to be “community service” projects, in the broadest sense of the word, and thus, should serve the community chosen by the fellow. Projects may have a long lifetime, but the aspect that fellows choose to focus on should be phased appropriately to align with the timelines of the fellowship (mentoring calls, presentations, reports, etc.). Fellows may work together on joint projects.

When will we know if we are selected?

FIRE Fellowship applicants will be notified of their standing by January 31, 2020.

Do I have to quit my job?

Our hope is that fellows can build their schedule in such a way to keep their job(s) and participate fully in the fellowship. We have intentionally built the dates around long weekends and holidays as much as possible. Ultimately, we aspire that the work of the fellowship supports fellows’ work in the world. That being said, sometimes an educational opportunity is a catalyst for a bigger change.

What makes this different from other fellowships?

Our fellowship is built on a cohort model, supporting the education and advancement of individuals in the context of community. Additionally, much of what is offered through the fellowship has been learned and evolved in the context of the land sanctuary of The Ojai Foundation and the global work of Youth Passageways. Thus, we offer some of the best gifts from our specific, and combined legacies.

Is there much physical activity involved? Or book learning? Sitting?

We aim to engage a daily rhythm that provides for a balance of physical, mental, and spiritual engagement. Days may include mindful service work on the land, stewardship, movement practices, sitting in circle, or small groups, as well as time for individual study. For the physical work, there are various ways to engage, and when possible, this may involve the use of hand tools, ability to carry weight, etc. Accommodations will be made for people with various physical abilities, and particular skill sets.

Is The Ojai Foundation accessible to people with physical disabilities?

The Ojai Foundation land sanctuary campus spans 36 acres in the rural Upper Ojai Valley. Electricity is limited to a few areas, and getting around campus involves walking on unlevel terrain: mostly trails lined with woodchips. We will make any accommodations possible to support the participation of individuals with various physical abilities. We have three reserved ADA parking spaces.