NEW YORK – As the Nathan Cummings Foundation Fellows program announced its third class of fellowship recipients, fellows from the first two years have quickly become game changers in their respective fields.
Begun in 2013 by the Nathan Cummings Foundation (NCF), a family foundation with almost $500 million in assets, it was intended to support projects that had the potential to challenge traditional approaches to advocacy, education, and organizing to end inequality and combat climate change. These high risk, high reward investments have already begun to pay off according to the foundation.
“Our first six fellows have left huge shoes to fill, but our new class looks up to the challenge. Selected from our largest applicant pool yet, they will work to grow economic opportunities in communities of color, address implicit bias through mindfulness, and fight for social and racial justice through culture change strategies,” said Ernest Tollerson, interim president and CEO of the Nathan Cummings Foundation Fellowship Committee.
This year’s fellows include Anurag Gupta, who is developing a mindfulness practice he calls Mindfulness-Based Cultural Competency (MBCC) to train doctors and nurses to overcome implicit bias in healthcare delivery; Bridgit Antoinette Evans, who is creating tools to help social justice organizations use culture change strategies to bring about policy change and Jessica Norwood, who is developing a community investment model that will help African-American entrepreneurs overcome the wealth gap between whites and Blacks.
Margot Brandenburg, a member of the inaugural 2013/2014 class of NCF Fellows, believed that there was a way to form partnerships between non-profit organizations and for-profit businesses that meet a social need and are good for the bottom line. Last year, at the Clinton Global Initiative, her vision became a reality when Care.com partnered with the National Domestic Workers Alliance to help consumers of domestic help provide care workers with fair wages and paid time off. Saqib Bhatti, also a member of the inaugural class of NCF fellows, has changed the conversation around municipal bankruptcy by exposing how politicians and financial institutions are precipitating the crisis to push an austerity agenda.
The Rev. Jennifer Bailey, a member of the 2014/2015 class of NCF fellows has quickly become a leading voice among communities of faith. Bailey has worked primarily in the South in a year that saw the rise of Moral Mondays in North Carolina and the murder of Black churchgoers by a white supremacist in Charleston, S.C.