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Grants & Impact Investing

The John W. Mack Movement Building Fellows Program

Named after the late civil rights leader and former Weingart Foundation Board Member, the John W. Mack Movement Building Fellows program aims to strengthen and develop current and emerging movement leaders to lead social and racial justice work that results in a more just and equitable Southern California region.

NOW ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS – DEADLINE EXTENDED TO MARCH 20, 2023: We are now accepting applications and you can find information on how to apply in the ELIGIBILITY, SELECTION CRITERIA & HOW TO APPLY section below. Applications are due March 20, 2023.


Since 2019, 26 movement leaders in Southern California have been named John W. Mack Movement Building Fellows. All have roots in community organizing in marginalized communities and have recently (within the past three years) taken on new senior management and leadership responsibilities. During their 18-month Fellowship, they gained tools such as: decision-making during complexity; continuous learning through experimentation and reflection; liberatory leadership practices; how to develop their own unique leadership stance; peer coaching techniques; and wellness and sustainability practices that promote self- and collective-care. Click here to view the list of 2021 Fellows. To view the list of 2019 Fellows, click here.

Interested in becoming a John W. Mack Movement Building Fellow? We are now accepting applications and you can find information on how to apply in the ELIGIBILITY, SELECTION CRITERIA & HOW TO APPLY section below. Applications are due March 20, 2023.

For questions about the program, please contact Vera de Vera, program director at or (213) 688-6313.

To learn more about John W. Mack’s legacy, click here.

John W. Mack

John W. Mack


Southern California has a strong history of social movements including recent campaigns advocating for reinvesting funding from law enforcement and incarceration to community health, safety and well-being; livable wages; educational equity; criminal justice reform; immigrant rights; marriage equality; affordable housing; environmental justice; and economic empowerment. And the current political environment, racial inequities, and the recent protests in response to the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Andrés Guardado and many other Black and Brown people by law enforcement, have intensified activism, mass mobilizations and a sense of urgency among social justice advocates. They press on to ensure that the gains won by a previous generation of movement leaders are not rolled back and they collaborate to create a vision of an equitable liberatory future.

Achieving Equity

In March 2017, as part of its commitment to equity announced in summer 2016, the Weingart Foundation convened 170 philanthropic colleagues and nonprofit leaders for a day-long discussion on Achieving Equity in Southern California. One of the key action items from that day was the need to develop and strengthen social justice leaders and the movement building infrastructure in our region. Convening participants identified numerous traits of an effective leader including: boldness, courage, diversity, comfort with crossing sectors, willingness to risk reputation, and the capacity to build bridges, link theory to practice, think outside the box, and spark movement—all essential to achieving steady progress toward racial equity and social justice. It would be difficult to find any one individual who inhabits all these traits, so it is imperative for long-term movement building work that a robust network of leaders who collectively possess these qualities be developed, supported and sustained.

Investing in Movement Leadership

In response to this call for more philanthropic investment in developing next generation leadership, the Weingart Foundation convened a group of seasoned movement building leaders and commissioned a study to explore whether existing programs and supports were sufficient to meet the needs of the region’s movement leadership. The research concluded that a more robust leadership-training infrastructure should be developed, not only to sustain the generational transfer of leadership and grow inter-generational relationships, but to also deepen their commitment to the long-term change needed to achieve social justice and racial equity. The research also revealed that a key inflection point in a movement leader’s career is when they transition from day-to-day campaign work to an executive or senior level leadership position involving added responsibilities for managing resources and supervising staff. Seasoned leaders noted that it was at this critical juncture in their early careers where they felt most vulnerable to potential burnout and frustration due to a rather thin layer of support for newly minted movement leaders.

To help strengthen this regional network of leaders new to their role, the Weingart Foundation launched the John W. Mack Movement Building Fellows program in 2019, named after the late civic leader who began his lifelong career as a movement leader through student activism during the civil rights movement. This program will help current and emerging leaders develop their adaptive leadership skills, hone their leadership stance, improve their ability to develop more effective campaign strategies, and better access resources that support them as leaders of nonprofit organizations and movement networks.


The John W. Mack Movement Building Fellows program is designed to help movement leaders:

  • Transform their leadership skills to more effectively respond and adapt to ever-changing conditions;
  • Build upon their existing networks through a dynamic shared peer cohort experience;
  • Contribute to more equitable and just working environments and movement spaces;
  • Deepen the alignment between their personal and shared values and their movement work; and
  • Better articulate their own, unique personal leadership stance.

The program is facilitated by Change Elemental, a nonprofit organization that supports individuals, organizations and networks working to disrupt and transform systems of inequity and create powerful vehicles for justice. Fellows will engage in a learning process focused on the five elements of deep change and a thriving social justice ecosystem:

  • Advancing Deep Equity
  • Cultivating Leaderful Ecosystems
  • Embedding Multiple Ways of Knowing
  • Influencing Complex Systems Change
  • Centering Inner Work

Through an exploration of Self, Organization and Movement Networks, the Fellows will also develop tools for leading through complexity and chaos, breaking the habits of white dominant organizational culture, learning through experimentation and reflection, aligning their values through their work and actions, and the importance of self- and collective care.

Since 2019, 26 individuals from Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura Counties have been selected for the John W. Mack Movement Building Fellows program.

The components of the fellowship are:

  • Each Fellow engages in leadership development training, peer learning and coaching support through a series of three overnight retreats, four Learning Days and individualized coaching sessions scheduled over an 18-month period;
  • The program is facilitated by experienced movement builders and Fellows will have the opportunity to co-design portions of the curriculum;
  • Each Fellow has access to up to 20 hours of professional coaching (valued at more than $4,000) during the program; and
  • A grant of $25,000 is awarded for each Fellow. About half will be granted to the Fellow’s organization to help compensate for the Fellow’s time away from the office during program activities and support the Fellow’s ability to fully engage in the program activities. The remainder will made available to the Fellows via an established Equity Pool to further support their leadership development and self-/collective-care.


Candidates for the John W. Mack Movement Building Fellows program must have the following experience:

  • Five years of community organizing experience in social justice and racial equity issues;
  • Employed at a nonprofit organization based in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino or Ventura County and engaged in movement building networks working toward racial and social justice and equity;
  • Placed into a leadership role with supervisory/management responsibilities in their organization/movement network within the past three years.

During this review and selection process, candidates will be screened on these additional qualities:

  • Deep commitment to social justice and racial equity;
  • Readiness to commit time to participate in the Fellows program activities and engage in professional/personal/organizational transformation and development;
  • Exhibit a spark to connect with others outside their current issue area(s) and participate in a cohort-based, peer learning opportunity;
  • Curiosity and desire to constantly learn, innovate, and challenge traditional/current thinking;
  • Ability to apply theory to practice;
  • Appreciate space and time to reflect on lessons learned and think proactively about solutions, individually and collectively.


To begin the application process, you will need to create an account through the Weingart Foundation grant application portal here. We highly recommend that you take the time to create your account first, and reflect on the application questions for a few weeks before completing and submitting your application. The application should be completed by the individual applying for the John W. Mack Movement Building Fellows program, NOT another staff person (e.g., grantwriter or development staff who typically writes grants for your organization). The deadline to apply is March 20, 2023.

You can also access the list of application questions here in English or Spanish. Should you have language or disability access needs to complete the application questions, please contact Vera deVera, program director, at or at (213) 688-6313. For assistance in Spanish, please contact Chris Barahona, program associate at or (213)688-6315.


What is the process used to select the Fellows?
All applications received by the deadline of March 20, 2023 will be reviewed by Weingart Foundation staff to ensure all required information has been received. A review committee comprised of the John W. Mack Fellows advisory group members (nonprofit and movement leaders), Weingart Foundation staff and John W. Mack Fellows alumni will read and score the applications and identify up to 20 finalists. Applicants will be notified of the status of their application by April 14, 2023. An interview committee, comprised of similar representatives, will conduct a 30-minute interview via Zoom with each finalist. Interviews will be scheduled between May 9-17, 2023. Finalists will be notified of the decisions by May 31, 2023.

I applied before, but was not selected. May I apply again?
If you applied in the past, you may submit an application for the 2023 cohort if you meet the eligibility requirements.

I’m not employed at a nonprofit organization but am engaged in movement building work. Am I eligible to apply?
At this time, applicants must be employed as staff at a nonprofit organization (501c(3) status) or as part of a movement building project that is fiscally sponsored by a nonprofit organization.

Is there a limit on how many people can apply from an organization?
Due to the competitive nature of the potential applicant pool, applications are limited to one candidate per organization. If more than one application is received from an organization, the executive director will be contacted and asked to select one application to be considered by the review committee.

The one exception is fiscally sponsored projects in which case applications are limited to one per fiscally sponsored project. Fiscally sponsored projects must have a written agreement in place with the fiscal sponsor to be considered.

What is the time commitment required?
The Fellowship spans 18 months with programming including a 1.5-day orientation, three multi-day in-person retreats (typically a Tuesday evening arrival and Friday afternoon departure), and three half-day virtual learning sessions. Additional optional activities may be planned by the Fellows cohort and/or the Fellows Alumni network. Fellows are expected to participate in all activities. For the orientation and multi-day retreats, all lodging and meals will be provided. Sponsoring organizations should reimburse the Fellows for mileage or public transportation costs from the grant provided to the organization.

Scheduled activities include:

  • Orientation (overnight lodging provided): June 20 & 21, 2023 at the Weingart Foundation office.
  • Learning Day #1: August 22, 2023, either 9am – 12 noon or 11am – 2pm, virtual.
  • Retreat #1: Sept. 26 (arrive by dinner time) – 29 (check-out/depart after lunch), 2023, location TBD.

The remaining activities will be scheduled on dates to be agreed upon by the cohort members:

  • Learning Day #2: December 2023, virtual, date/time TBD
  • Retreat #2: March 2024, in-person, date/time TBD
  • Learning Day #3: June 2024, virtual, date/time TBD
  • Retreat #3: September or October 2024, in-person, date/time TBD
  • Program Culmination: December 2024 in-person or virtual, date/time TBD

What happens if I am selected and can’t participate in one or more of the Fellows activities?
Participation in the Fellows activities is required, although we understand that unanticipated scheduling conflicts may arise. We encourage early and open communication with Weingart Foundation staff if such circumstances arise.

What precautions are being taken as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic?
All Fellowship activities (e.g., orientation, multi-day retreats, learning days, etc.) are being planned as in-person convenings. Therefore, proof of updated COVID-19 vaccinations/boosters will be required prior to attendance at the orientation in June 2023. However, depending on current COVID-19 health and safety policies in place at the time, dates, venues and method of convening (virtual vs. in-person) may vary. If deemed safe to convene in person, the meeting venues will be within a two-hour driving distance of downtown Los Angeles.

How will the grant be awarded to each Fellow?
For each selected Fellow, half of the $25,000 grant will be awarded to their nonprofit organization to help compensate them for the Fellow’s time away from work and to provide support to the Fellow to enable their full participation in Fellowship activities (e.g., child/family care support during Fellows programming days, access to technology for virtual participation, transportation reimbursement to and from program sites, wellness support, etc.). Organizations are encouraged to use any remaining funds to support overall staff professional development. The other half of the $25,000 allocation per Fellow will be placed in an Equity Pooled Fund to be accessed by the Fellows to further support their leadership development and self- /collective-care.


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