The International Fellows Programs at the Center oN Philanthropy and Civil Society


The Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, based at The Graduate Center of The City University of New York, ran its first International Fellows Program (IFP) in 1989. Since that time is has trained 240 Fellows from 71 countries and territories around the globe.

The current focus of the IFP is on community foundations and strengthening local cultures of giving. The program also may explore diaspora philanthropy, governance, foundation boards, sustainability, corporate social responsibility, and/or other timely issues.

The Center’s Fellows’ programs emphasize learning about philanthropy and civil society in comparative perspective. They engage the Fellows through readings, weekly seminars, networking opportunities, and site visits. Fellows are introduced to the international literature on philanthropy and foundations, and prepare a research or position paper with recommendations for implementation. The Center generally runs two International Fellows Programs per annum:

  • A two- to three-month Emerging Leaders International Fellows Program that provides leadership training though seminars, meetings, and applied research. The program is intended for young scholar-practitioners from overseas, as well as from communities of color under- represented in the U.S. grantmaking sector.
  • A four-week Senior International Fellows Program for decision makers. This professional development opportunity for experienced Third-Sector professionals encourages participants to reflect strategically while exploring best practices from around the globe.

The Center’s Director Professor Kathleen D. McCarthy and Associate Director Barbara Leopold are joined by University faculty, foundation leaders, researchers, and other experts in the nonprofit field, including program alumni, who serve as mentors and guest lecturers.

Seminars arranged for the Fellows in recent years have been led by distinguished speakers from: The Atlantic Philanthropies; Berks County Community Foundation; Brazil Foundation; Carnegie Corporation of New York; Charles Stewart Mott Foundation; Community Foundations for Lancashire & Merseyside (UK); Council on Foundations; Disability Rights Fund; Equileap, Inc. (UK); Ford Foundation; Foundation Center; Global Fund for Community Foundations; International Human Rights Funders Group; Bermuda Community Foundation, New York Community Trust; Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Turkish Philanthropy Funds; The Wallace Foundation, Winnipeg Foundation; Workshop for Civic Initiatives Foundation (Bulgaria), as well as Baruch College’s Marxe School of Public and International Affairs, CUNY, and The University of Auckland, among others.

Many of our program alumni have gone on to create new foundations and to lead national, regional, and international support organizations around the globe; others work across the sectors, in corporate philanthropy, government, NGOs and universities. Together they have helped to shape and strengthen the Third Sector in innumerable ways.

Institutions established or strengthened through the work of program alumni include:

  • Ghana’s first community foundation, launched in April 2021. 
  • South Africa's first Center on African Philanthropy and Social Investment (CAPSI) located at Wits Business School in Johannesburg, South Africa.
  • A Center for the Study of Philanthropy in Ukraine that conducts fundraising workshops led by international experts.
  • Turkey’s first community foundation and a US-based Turkish American diaspora fund.
  • A community foundation in Egypt that builds on traditional Islamic giving practices.
  • A strategic philanthropy fund in Mexico committed to raising public awareness and promoting a more robust philanthropic culture.
  • A local social grantmaking fund in Uruguay.
  • New community foundations in St. Petersburg, Russia and Hamilton, Bermuda.
  • The first community foundations in Ahmedabad and Mumbai, India.
  • Membership associations for community foundations in Poland and in New Zealand.
  • A non-profit foundation in Kathmandu, Nepal that funds policy research and supports policy engagement initiatives.
  • A Leaders in Philanthropy Program in Latin America.

Initiatives underway include:

  • Country-wide efforts to develop and strengthen community-based philanthropy organizations are in progress in Albania, Brazil, Colombia, and Spain.
  • Applying in-country diaspora models in South Africa.
  • Strengthening youth philanthropy initiatives in Canada and Russia.
  • Facilitating corporate-community engagement in Russia and Cyprus.
  • Women’s giving circles in Argentina and among the Filipina Diaspora in the U.S.

Alumni also publish widely in blogs, articles, and books on topics linked to their research as Fellows.

The International Fellows Program focuses on a range of issues, from developing a culture of philanthropy to identifying and adapting best practices, from resource identification and endowment building to establishing transparency and trust among civil society organizations. These and other learnings are supporting the Center’s alumni as they build civil society capacity in emerging or threatened democracies around the globe.