Empowering the Atlantic Fellows

In October 2016, Atlantic Philanthropies donated $US50 million to the University of Melbourne to establish the Atlantic Fellows to drive societal change from the root up. This is an excerpt from Atlantic Philanthropies's Christopher G. Oechsli, President and CEO published on 14 December, 2016 on Atlanticpilanthropies.org.

Atlantic is investing in a global community of emerging leaders who can appeal to those “better angels” that most motivate us—to inclusion and empathy rather than exclusion and prejudice. Fostering such leadership, especially at a time of such division, is a formidable task, one that we or any funder can only undertake at a modest scale. But it is what we can offer in the hopes of constructively engaging the most fundamental concerns of our time.

For our final act, we are supporting and connecting a new generation of leaders—the Atlantic Fellows—to challenge persistent disparities and make improvements in the human condition across communities, countries and continents.

The Atlantic Fellows represent an investment in people who have the rigor, persistence and passion to make differences that will reverberate long beyond Atlantic’s existence. That has been our mission since Chuck Feeney’s first grant in 1982 and guides us as we complete our work.

Three final Atlantic Fellows programs embody that goal: Atlantic Fellows for Health Equity in South Africa, Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity in the United States and South Africa, and Atlantic Fellows for Social Equity in Australia. Along with three previously announced Atlantic fellowship programs and the supporting Atlantic Institute, these initiatives will activate a new force—more than 3,500 emerging leaders over the next two decades—to advance fairer, healthier, more inclusive societies.

There is a growing realization around the world that social exclusion, especially economic exclusion, is putting democratic societies at risk, and that makes an investment like this in future leaders from excluded populations a nation-building exercise that will help ensure a healthy and secure society.

This is Atlantic’s biggest bet ever, totaling over $600 million. It represents the culmination of the foundation’s long history of investing in people and in their vision and ability to improve the lives of others, especially the vulnerable and disadvantaged among us. These three new programs all seek to support leaders committed to addressing systemic barriers to equality, opportunity and dignity.

Developed over the past several years, the six Atlantic Fellows programs are now taking shape. Together they are intended to create a sustained global community of creative, courageous and catalytic changemakers to address some of the most pressing issues of our time. These Atlantic Fellows will confront the root causes of socio-economic and racial inequality, barriers to full participation in democracy, and critical health challenges, including dementia and a lack of access to quality care. They will organize and collaborate across borders and disciplines. They will be adventurous and bold. Together they will bring their ideas, experience, caring, humor and outrage to create real change.

Read more at Atlantic Philanthropies.