The Nathan Gilbert Youth Innovation Fellowship

Initiated in 2014, the Youth Innovation Fellowship is a unique opportunity for young community workers, researchers, changemakers, and activists to explore a policy issue they are passionate about and craft youth-focused approaches and solutions. Overall it is an opportunity to:

  • engage in public policy
  • fill research gaps
  • inform the Foundation’s strategies and expand its knowledge base
  • access professional development opportunities

The Fellowship will support 1-2 individuals aged 15—29 to design and implement a creative and impactful policy-relevant project.

Fellowships are usually 12 months in duration and come with an award of $20,000 per fellow.

 Fellowship Project Focus


Through the Youth Innovation Fellowship, the Foundation is looking to invest in youth-led policy relevant projects that address issues directly related to the sectors in which the Foundation works: the education system, the justice system, and the not-for-profit sector. Successful applicants need to demonstrate:

  • the policy relevance of their projects and potential to contribute to a longstanding systemic issue
  • what they expect to learn

Projects should be research based. We will not consider proposals to launch or run a program or service.

Who is eligible to apply?

The Fellowship is aimed at young individuals, community workers, activists, changemakers, thought leaders and researchers who demonstrate a passion and commitment to their particular fields, intellectual curiosity, and rigor to ask challenging questions and determination to see their projects through.

We are looking for young people who:

  • challenge the status quo and bring fresh thinking, perspectives and new insights on what we thought we knew and tell us about what we don’t know but should;
  • take advantage of the intellectual and logistical capital of the Foundation and are prepared to engage constructively in our network;
  • and contribute to the culture of learning at the Foundation and further afield.

We in particular welcome applications from individuals who are directly affected by or have personal experience with the policies, practices, and systems that their projects focus on and/or seek to challenge.

What type of activities will be supported?

  • Research Activities: Fellows may engage in community consultations and conduct community-based research
  • Information Sharing: Fellows may organize presentations, online discussions, and information sharing sessions, in consultation with the Laidlaw Team. Fellows may also engage in activities such as hosting panel discussions, traveling to conferences, and presenting on their work in other public spaces
  • Advocacy/Awareness Raising: Fellows may engage in innovative advocacy and social media campaigns
  • Creative Dissemination: Fellows can share what they are learning and help advance their recommendations through a variety of mediums including artistic or cultural expression projects

What are the Foundation’s expectations of its Fellows?

  • Engagement and Knowledge Sharing: The Foundation expects fellows to seek ways to share their work, expertise, and learning with the sector.
    • Fellows are required to give a work-in presentation and attend presentations by other fellows, meetings at which fellows can speak about their work, share ideas and receive feedback from their peers.
    • Fellows may also be asked to share their work at more formal events.
  • Policy Relevant End-Product: The Foundation may wish to disseminate the results of the work it supports in a variety of forums. Fellows are required to produce an end-product that conveys policy-relevant information and may include, but not limited to:
    • publications, such as reports and blog posts;
    • infographics and other visual content;
    • innovative education and training resources and tools
  • Final Report that describes the major accomplishments of the project, and provides a summary of the implications of the work with respect to advancing knowledge, policy engagement, and development.


We strongly encourage applicants to identify at least one mentor, someone who will provide advice and support throughout the project and/or a host organization with the expertise in areas you will examine. If you are not able to identify a mentor before you submit an application, please provide a list of individuals and/or organizations you’d like to receive support from.

Selection Process

Applications that satisfy the eligibility requirements are entered into a multi-stage review process involving both internal evaluations by Foundation staff and external evaluations by a selection committee. Candidates may also be invited to an interview with the selection committee consisting of the Foundation Board of Directors and outside experts.

Evaluation Criteria

All applications will be assessed according to the quality of the proposed project, and its policy relevance. In addition, the individual candidate’s unique experiences and insights will be considered.

Please note: this program is not currently accepting applications

When will you hear back? 

Applicants who applied before the November 21st deadline can expect to hear back about a decision regarding their application by mid-December.

Learn about our current Fellows here.