NLC Institute

Where new voices, new ideas, and new leaders connect to make progress real.

NLC’s core program, the NLC Institute, is delivered across the country in our chapters. Institute creates space for intensive leadership development and meaningful connection with other changemakers across issues, industries, and identities.

The program takes place over six months, focusing on skills building for each cohort one weekend a month. Training includes entrepreneurial goal setting, strategic communications, digital organizing, finance and fundraising, coalition building, public policy, and equity and inclusion.

Each chapter tailors our national curriculum to the needs of the local community. Our chapters use national and local trainers to implement the program, providing a premier training experience and a strong grounding in the local community.

The Institute culminates in a capstone, where Fellows identify a project that fills a need in the community and is aligned with their passions and goals. Fellows leverage the skills and network NLC provides during the Institute for their capstone project – bringing the NLC experience to life in communities across the country.

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Equity and justice champions

Our inclusive recruitment and selection process seeks to uplift the voices historically excluded from decision making spaces. The 2021 cohort self identified as 73% Black, Indigenous, and People of color; 68% women and Gender Non-conforming Folx; and 31% LBTQAI+ Folx.

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Radically inclusive access

Each Fellow receives 100+ hours of community-based training from 50+ local and national trainers. Given NLC’s commitment to training outside of the privilege-to-power-pipeline, the program is offered at no cost to all Fellows – thanks to generous alumni and supporters.

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Cross-sector relationships

The majority of NLC Fellows identify as early or mid-career professionals across the public, civil, and private sectors and 17+ different industries. Fellows graduate from the Institute as alumni with trusted relationships that break down silos and accelerate progress.

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Intentional, introspective leaders

NLC invests in collaborative leaders who understand their personal transformation is linked to societal transformation. The Institute emphasizes individual reflection and group accountability. With a capstone project, NLC Fellows practice their vision for social and political change in the context of the real work important to their passions and strengths.

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Collective Impact

Each NLC cohort creates a multiplier effect for systems change. Since 2005, 10,000 NLC Fellows reinvested their activism back into their communities and workplaces to advance progress on the causes they choose to champion. Our alumni spark a ripple effect that transforms the organizations, communities, and movements they serve.

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Vital civic infrastructure

The national network of 50 chapters ensures NLC changemakers can work with and across a diversity of geography and lived experiences. For 15 years, our place-based chapters have equipped groups on the ground to co-design strategies. NLC’s national ecosystem is building a healthy democracy and an equitable society.


My cohort really inspired me to actually take action on ideas that I’ve been thinking about for a long time. They not only provided recommendations for resources, but also are doing such amazing work on the issues they care about, which motivates me to do the same.

– Hillary Li (she/her)
2021 NLC North Carolina Fellow

Our Results

As alumni, NLC Fellows go on to partner with their cohort and national network on the cause they choose to champion for progress.


of 2021 Fellows agree that the NLC Institute provided them with a supportive community network and training that will propel them further in their professional and personal goals.


of 2021 Fellows say they have “found their community” during their NLC experience.


of 2021 Fellows found value in having cross-sector experience in their cohorts.

I left feeling more confident in myself and the community of like minded change makers that welcome everyone who is willing to put in the work. It is not about what we have accomplished separately. It is about what we WILL accomplish together.

– Xavier Graves (he/him)
NLC Oklahoma 2021 Fellow

Apply to the 2023 NLC Institute

Are you a local changemaker who is ready to grow, connect, and lead? Apply for the 2023 Institute today!

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Nominate a Leader for the 2023 NLC Institute

Do you know a leader in your community that would benefit from NLC’s leadership development training? Nominate them for the 2023 NLC Institute.

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If we want to build the country we want to see, we have to begin by investing in leadership.