Research by Pollinate into the impact of the Fulbright Scholarships for not-for-profit leaders in Australia reveals returned scholars do remarkable things.
When Adam Davids, a proud Indigenous man, returned from a Fulbright Scholarship in the USA he was brimming with ideas on how to improve outcomes for Indigenous young people.
At that time Adam was a director of learning at CareerTrackers, which successfully tackled the 60 percent drop-out rate for Indigenous university students.
“I have benefitted personally and professionally from the experience,” Adam says.
“I’ve been gifted insights into more than 100 years of impact-driven by not for profits for minority people in the USA that have strong parallels to more recently established programs that serve Indigenous Australians.”
“I was welcomed by exceptional leaders within the Native American and African American community who reinforced my understanding of the key long-term investments needed to empower racial minority young people.”
Adam is one of 10 scholars who are unique in the international Fulbright alumni. They were recipients of the only Fulbright Scholarship in the world specifically for leaders of NGOs and not-for-profits.
The Fulbright Professional Scholarship in Non-Profit Leadership has been offered over the last 10 years as a collaboration with the Australian Scholarships Foundation, Origin Energy Foundation, Perpetual and the Fulbright Commission in Australia.
In 2020 research was commissioned into the impact of the Fulbright Scholarships for not-for-profit leaders in Australia.
The research found that there were three benefits for the individuals:
- a unique set of knowledge
- strengthened leadership qualities; and
- increased access to opportunities.
The individual scholars were able to leverage these benefits into opportunities for their organisations and the sector in three ways:
- bringing more funding to the sector
- upskilling and influencing those around them; and
- pursuing new initiatives and bringing them to life.
Sean Barrett is the former head of the Origin Energy Foundation, which was the inaugural funder of the Fulbright Scholarships and funded the research. He said it was notoriously difficult to measure and evaluate the value and impact of scholarships.
“So I regard this work as groundbreaking,” he said.
“A key focus for the Origin Energy Foundation is assisting the NFP sector to improve its capacity through training and development. We have put more than $1 million into training and development opportunities so it is important that we can be reassured it is money well spent.”
Sam Sayers, Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Scholarship Foundation (2017-2022), said “The research with returned scholars showed they came back to do remarkable things. We hope that this research will convince other funders that there are tangible benefits to supporting the Fulbright Scholarships for not-for-profit leaders in Australia. Origin Energy Foundation pioneered the funding which has been taken up by Perpetual, but there are other opportunities.”
Tom Dougherty, Executive Director of the Australian-American Fulbright Commission, welcomed the research as further proof of the value of Fulbright Scholarships. He said,
Previous Fulbright Non-Profit Leadership Scholarship winners include:
- Bridi Rice, a former Director at the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) and current Co-Convenor of the Asia-Pacific Development, Diplomacy and Defence Dialogue. (2021)
- Dermot O’Gorman, CEO, WWF-Australia (2020)
- Adam Davids, Director of Learning, Career Trackers, and Board Member, Social Ventures Australia (2019)
- Gordon Duff, General Manager, Sector Development and Research for National Disability Services (2018)
- David Ireland, Governor, WWF Australia (2018)
- Matthew Clarke, Pro Vice-Chancellor Researcher Development at Deakin University (2017)
- Hichem Demortier, previously Global Health Program ManagerGlobal Health Program ManagerMenzies School of Health Research (2016)
- Karen Hart, CEO, The Youth Junction Inc (2014)
- Andrew Tyndale (2013)
- Dr Tessa Boyd-Caine (2013)
Fulbright helps leaders innovate
Read more from previous Non-Profit Fulbright winners,
Dr Tessa Boyd-Caine and David Ireland on how the Fulbright experience has enriched them.
2022 Fulbright Professional Scholarship in Non-Profit Leadership is open now and closes on 6 July 2022.