Fellowship for Change Program

A generation of social innovators needs to emerge to spearhead solutions for the compounding societal and environmental challenges facing humanity. Programs nurturing young change leaders are normally only accessible at universities. The Fellowship for Change Program draws on the untapped potential of high school students to unleash transformation within the individual and society.

The Fellowship for Change program, led by Columbia Global Centers | Beijing in partnership with Qi Social Innovation Center, is a one-year Fellowship for students in China who will be entering Grade 10 or 11 in 2024 and are inspired to lead change. Through learning summits and mentor accompaniment, fellows research and connect with complex social and environmental issues, formulating and implementing solutions that address the root causes and inspire others.

This is a unique learning experience for a cohort of 20 diverse high school youth to take this one-year journey together, learning from each other, learning from social impact leaders and professors, and working together – to design, implement, and sustain social impact initiatives.


Learning Summits

The Fellowship for Change is completed in parallel with your Grade 10 or Grade 11 academic schooling through learning summits where fellows come together in July and April during your school holiday. These Learning Summits offer fellows an opportunity to gather with leading industry professionals and Columbia Alumni in interactive sessions that include three main components:

  • Academic Content: Understanding the root cause and systems thinking
  • Human Library: Social innovators sharing what sparked their journey
  • Experiential Learning Visits: Socially minded organizations
  • Academic Content: Designing solutions for impact through human-centered design
  • Human Library: Social innovators sharing their solution process
  • Experiential Learning Visits: Impact field visits
  • Academic Content: Storytelling and impact measurement
  • Human Library: Social innovators sharing learnings from success and failure
  • Experiential Learning Visits: Organizations that have scaled

Program Highlights

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Participate in Columbia University's Social Innovation Training for High School Students

This program is specifically designed to enhance the social innovation and academic capacities of students, drawing from Columbia's expertise in the field. You'll be joining a community of like-minded individuals who are dedicated to making a positive impact on the world.

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Learn from World-Class Mentors

Columbia's senior faculty members in social innovation, Obama Foundation Scholars, industry leaders, and social innovation practitioners will provide comprehensive guidance and lead you through each step of your developmental journey.

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Amplify Your Core Competencies for College Applications

You'll gain a comprehensive understanding of social problem-solving methodologies, sharpen your design-thinking skills, and enhance your leadership capabilities, enabling you to approach social issues from an innovative perspective.

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From Campus to the Globe

You'll enhance your project execution skills, build interpersonal networks, and explore partner institutions of Columbia Global Centers | Beijing, laying a solid and enduring groundwork for your future paths in social innovation.

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Step 1 - Jan 31, 2024

Complete the Application Form, two-minute video, and reference letters

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Step 2 - March 1, 2024

Shortlist announced

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Step 3 - March 2024

Shortlisted applicant interviews

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Step 4 - March 31, 2024

Fellows  for  first   Fellowship  for  Change cohort announced

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Step 5 - April 15, 2024

Fellows and their parents to sign the Fellowship agreement

Frequently Asked Questions

We encourage students from throughout China entering Grade 10 or 11 in September 2024 who have proven commitment to creating a better world for future generations to apply.

The selection committee is particularly looking for students who:

  • Deeply care about a social or environmental issue that faces the community
  • Are service oriented
  • Persevere and learn from failure or challenges
  • Are creative problem solvers that take action
  • Prioritize consultation and collaboration, seeking to listen and learn from others
  • Bring diverse perspectives from their life experience, culture and background
  • Can balance the Fellowship program with school studies.

The Fellowship for Change is a full scholarship program covering travel, accommodation and learning materials for 20 fellows to attend this prestigious program. The aim is to promote the diversity of applicants to be part of this unique program.

For the first cohort fellows need to have some English speaking and listening ability to understand the sessions facilitated by global experts. Applicants should show how the issues they care about relate to sustainability or mental well-being as these will be focus areas for the Fellowship.

Remember the application deadline is Jan. 31, 2024 at 11:59 p.m.

The expression "experience of a lifetime" perhaps is overused; however, this truly is an experience that will shape your future as a social impact innovator with action, purpose, and leadership opportunities.

Advisory Board

Ma Jun

Dr. Ma Jun is the Founder and President of Institute of Finance and Sustainability (based in Beijing) which developed the China Water Pollution Map. He is also the Chairman of Green Finance Committee of China Society for Finance and Banking, Co-Chair of G20 Sustainable Finance Study Group, and Co-Chair of the Steering Committee of the Green Investment Principles for the Belt & Road.

Zhang Mei

Zhang Mei is a native of Yunnan province in southwest China. She holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and worked for McKinsey & Company until she found her true passion in sustainable travel launching Wild China in 2000. Mei is an Aspen Institute China Fellow and currently serves as a member of Harvard Business School’s Alumni Board.

Husayn Anwar

Husayn Anwar created the first private platforms for environmental consulting and management resulting in training over 300 of China current top environmental experts, and lead many of the early China EA and EIA projects.  He influenced China’s EHS regulatory structure, much of the early environmental policy and practices, and many of the leading Chinese environmental NGOs and monitoring systems.

Spring Chunxiao Fu

Spring Chunxiao Fu is Managing Director at the Aspen Institute, heading the China Fellowship Program, which aims to select and energize China’s private sector business leaders to move from success to significance. Prior to her current role, Spring led the Young Global Leaders (YGL) Program at the World Economic Forum in Greater China and Asia Pacific region.

Jack Hsu

Jack Hsu is the founder and CEO of the Ivy Education Group and also serves on the Advisory Board for the Columbia Global Center in Beijing. He is a successful entrepreneur, having started 3 companies including one that was publicly llisted. Jack is also an Aspen Fellow completing the 5th cohort of the China Leadership Program.

Helena Xiao

Helena Xiao is the General Manager of Columbia Global Centers | Beijing, a part of a global network of eleven Global Centers of Columbia University. She oversees all the programs and operations to create a vibrant intellectual and pedagogic community to facilitate and promote academic exchange and research collaboration of Columbia’s students, faculty, schools, and institutes with counterparts in China and neighboring areas.

Shao Yue

Shao Yue graduated from Peking University and obtained her MBA from Harvard Business School. She left McKinsey & Company and launched an educational social venture to create more social impact. She then worked as Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Energy Foundation China, a charitable organization dedicated to China’s sustainable energy development.

Elizabeth Walker Sobhani

Elizabeth Walker Sobhani is the Director of Social Innovation at Ivy Education Group and the Director of the Qi Social Innovation Center. She has over 20 years experience as an advisor in the social impact sector in North America and China working with leading nonprofits, companies, schools, and social entrepreneurs to create meaningful impact.