How to Apply

Stanton Fellowship

We are seeking the most knowledgeable, inquisitive, ambitious, creative, influential and highly networked leaders – the ones who are best positioned to identify and make headway on a big question.

We favor adaptive strategies, not technical fixes. We assume that the Stanton journey may not be linear, will likely involve both known stakeholders and new partners, and that it will require patience, perseverance and flexibility. Whether or not the challenge is resolved, we expect Stanton Fellows to share their lessons learned with colleagues in the field, so others can build upon that knowledge.

Each fellow designs his or her own inquiry and plan. We are looking for proposals that build on the fellow’s expertise and allow him or her to reach in new directions. Fellows should present plans that they would not otherwise be able to pursue in the course of their day-to-day work, if not for the Stanton Fellowship.

Possible use of the funds might include domestic or international travel, attending conferences, hiring research assistants or consultants, or a writing retreat. The goal is to enable fellows to expand knowledge, hone professional skills, form strategic alliances, and advance their work to the next level. The inquiry will require the fellow’s focused dedication to Stanton time, for a minimum total of three months over the two-year fellowship in blocks of two weeks or longer.


Individual candidates for this program should:
  • Be a resident of Los Angeles County
  • Be an outstanding thought leader with a demonstrated track record for at least 7 years in the nonprofit sector and government, as well as artists, movement leaders, and social entrepreneurs
  • Be in a position to influence peers, policymakers and/or the general public
  • Desire to participate in a cross-disciplinary network of leaders
  • Present a clearly articulated proposal to work on a complex issue over a two-year period
  • Develop a plan for devoting a minimum of three months over the two-year fellowship period to the project, in increments of no less than two weeks at a time
  • Need financial assistance to underwrite the project
  • Commit to participating in three overnight retreats and quarterly day-long meetings over a two-year period
  • Not have access already to professional opportunities for research or inquiry

Review Criteria

The Stanton review panel will consider each application in light of these questions:

Is this the right person?
  • Is the candidate a thought leader in his/her field and widely recognized?
  • Is the candidate a “go-to” leader around the proposed inquiry topic?
  • Is the candidate open to experimentation, and pursuing new and unexpected paths within the inquiry in a nonlinear fashion?
  • Does the candidate have a platform and network for learning and dissemination of knowledge? (leadership position at an agency, influential community presence, media voice, etc.)
  • Is there evidence that the candidate will be able to break away from the day-to-day and honor the program requirement to take blocks of time of not less than two weeks?
  • Would the candidate be an engaged participant in the peer cohort, interested in sharing information, and learning from others?
  • Does the candidate lack access to opportunities for research and inquiry?  For example, a tenure-track professor or student at a university would not be eligible because they have access to research and inquiry.  While we recognize that research funding is always in demand, the Stanton Fellowship is designed for leaders who typically do not have access to these opportunities.
Is this the right inquiry?
  • Will the proposed inquiry have direct impact on Los Angeles?
  • Has the candidate clearly articulated an inquiry that addresses a complex challenge?
  • Does the candidate have a clearly articulated plan for initiating the inquiry?
  • Does the proposed inquiry break new ground?
  • Is the work plan sufficiently sketched out to be feasible in the Stanton time frame?
  • Has the candidate given adequate thought to how s/he will expend Stanton resources and his/her time?
Is this the right time?
  • Is the applicant at the right point in his/her career for a Stanton inquiry?
  • Is there urgency around the proposed inquiry? Do external circumstances suggest that this topic should be pursued now?
    • Will the candidate’s schedule and circumstances be stable for the fellowship? If a candidate anticipates a professional transition in the near future she/he should not apply.

Program Timeline

2025-2026 Fellowship Timeline

Application Opens: March 20

Application Deadline: June 12

Finalist Site Visits: July 29-August 9

Finalist Interviews: August 13-15

Stanton Orientation: January 2025

For any inquiries, please reach out to


View Sample Application
(Have you read the review criteria and FAQs?)

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an example of a Stanton Fellowship inquiry?

There is no one model. Project implementation, strategic planning for your organization, evaluations of existing programs, supporting the launch of a pilot program that has already been designed, or investment in a project already underway are not appropriate activities for a Stanton proposal.

Stanton Fellowship inquiries vary depending on the subject area on which they are focused. However, Stanton program presumes that the inquiry will leverage the candidates expertise to advance the needs in the field. Please look at the descriptions of past fellowships, which can be found by clicking on the profiles. However, the Stanton Program presumes that the inquiry will be substantially different from the candidate’s day-to-day work, and that the goal is to advance the needs of the field. 

What are appropriate uses of the Stanton Funds?

Apart from the allocation of Stanton funds to cover three months of salary and benefits, Fellows have broad latitude in the use of the grant dollars. Some possible uses of Stanton funds include:

  •     Auxiliary space rental
  •     Hiring of research assistants
  •     Research materials
  •     Travel
  •     Translation services
  •     Conference fees
  •     Convening
  •     Facilitators
  •     Personal retreat
  •     Stipends for external collaborators
  •     Meals for meetings

Funds may not be used for personal living expenses, or for stipends for staff members.

Do I have to be in a full-time paid leadership position to apply?

No. Stanton Fellowships are now open to changemakers in the nonprofit sector and government, as well as artists, movement leaders, and social entrepreneurs. However, if you are currently employed, you should apply in that capacity. One of the purposes of the program is to cross-pollinate ideas and approaches from different arenas. 2019 is the first year in which the program has been open to candidates who are not working full-time for an agency.

How are the Stanton Fellows selected?

The Fellows are selected by a review panel of past Stanton Fellows, and Durfee trustees and staff.  They are guided by the review criteria and seek to create a vibrant, cross-sector cohort of Fellows.

What expectations does the Foundation have about the Fellows' outcomes?

We are focused inquiry, not focused on project implementation. We accept that the outcomes may be unknown. We recognize that one individual is unlikely to resolve a challenging issue facing the future of LA in the short span of two years. We hope the fellow will help to move Los Angeles forward by asking critical questions, advancing ideas, expanding his or her practice, deepening roots in the community and, above all, sharing lessons learned with others who need to know. Success for the Stanton program is collective wisdom and a community moving forward together.

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