Cultural Leadership Fellowship

Main Program Overview

Scholar Fund grew tremendously in 2020 and will continue to expand our work in three areas: education access, relief funds, and community development. As part of our education and community development efforts, we believe that it is increasingly important to expand opportunities for young professionals' personal and professional growth in our community. We believe providing tools and experiences for young professionals to be exemplary leaders and more culturally responsive will be an investment in creating a more equitable nation and future.

Scholar Fund is proud to announce and host our annual Cultural Leadership Fellowship! This program is uniquely designed to support young leaders by immersing new and different perspectives, investigating other communities worldwide, and learning to collaborate with diverse groups of people across multiple spaces. The fellowship is one year long, with experiential learning opportunities for a cohort of 20 young professionals.

An integral part of our fellowship is to host a trip across North America, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean, with the hope of expanding our reach to other regions in the world in the future. The fellows will be immersed in a comprehensive language and culturally responsive four-week summer program organized by Scholar Fund, in partnership with local culturally sustaining educators from the state of Washington and country-based community-based organizations.

The learnings taken from the abroad experience will allow our fellows to learn from the communities they visit and understand the significant differences and similarities with their local communities. As we strive to create a more equitable and just nation, it is vital for us to learn from community experiences rooted in cultural justice that lead to inspiring action and local community impact.

About the Cultural Leadership Fellowship

The Cultural Leadership Fellowship is rooted in the work of “Culturally Sustaining Pedagogies: Teaching and Learning for Justice in a Changing World” by Django Paris and H. Samy Alim, focusing on how these learnings apply in different cultural spaces and through different cultures across the world. The cohort will participate in a virtual monthly intensive course on Culturally Sustaining Pedagogy curated by Scholar Fund’s fellowship leads during the year-long fellowship. During this time, there will be learning opportunities in their local communities.

Following the course, the cohort will participate in an abroad program during winter or spring. During the abroad program, the cohort will participate in a project-based learning model of cultural classes on Culturally Sustaining Pedagogy course and how it shifts through space and throughout the world; language-based exploration courses; seminars on the economic, political, and educational system at each perspective county; and visit various archeological sites and education-based institutions to learn how culture has sustained across centuries in these spaces.

Upon return from the abroad program, the fellows will participate in a collective virtual seminar focused on each of their learnings, connected to culture, space, and the current political, educational, and economic climate in each country. The young professionals will then complete a report, research paper, or video essay tying their learnings in connection to Culturally Sustaining Pedagogy. Scholar Fund will host a community-facing webinar to present the young professionals' work during the last month of the annual fellowship.

Fellowship Application

The Cultural Leadership Fellowship online application is due on Friday, April 1, 2022, by 11:59 PM. You will need to submit the following information in the application:

  • Biographical information
  • Resume or activities log
  • Letter of recommendation (PDF)
  • One-page statement (max 500 words) that explains why you are a strong candidate for the program by articulating your interests, qualifications, and projected benefits to future personal and professional goals
  • Short response narrative, around 200 words, highlighting why we should select you for the program and explaining your plans for financing the fellowship cost

Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for consideration for our program, applicants must meet the following requirements:

  • Be 18+ of age by the start of the program
  • Must participate in ALL PROGRAM activities 
  • Must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, including a booster shot
  • Have a valid passport from the respective country of origin by the time of travel
  • Must test negative for COVID-19 48 hours prior to departure and 48 hours after arriving in the country for the program, and 24 hours before returning to the United States (subject to change per U.S. policy)
  • Must be able to pay round-trip airfare from the United States and the host countries
  • Must be able to pay the $2,000 program fees and any other additional fees (e.g., passport fees, visa fees, etc.)

Winter and Spring 2023 travel-based programs

Each fellow will have the opportunity to attend at least one program, with the option to have an intersection within multiple programs:

MEXICO - FEBRUARY 15, 2023, TO APRIL 5, 2023

GUATEMALA - FEBRUARY 25, 2023, TO APRIL 15, 2023

HONDURAS - MARCH 1, 2023, TO APRIL 15, 2023

EL SALVADOR - MARCH 1, 2023, TO APRIL 15, 2023

COSTA RICA - MARCH 15, 2023, TO APRIL 30, 2023


PERU - MARCH 15, 2023, TO APRIL 30, 2023

Overview of $2,000 Program Fee

  • Administrative costs for the year-long fellowship
  • Culturally Sustaining Pedagogy and language courses in the United States and host country 
  • A copy of the book “Culturally Sustaining Pedagogies: Teaching and Learning for Justice in a Changing World” by Django Paris and H. Samy Alim
  • Individual housing rooms, meals, local transportation, entrance fees to field-trip sites, etc. 
  • COVID-19 testing, N95 and KN95 masks for the entire trip, and primary care and/or medical assistance

* Scholarships are not available at this time; we highly encourage employers to sponsor this cost as a professional development opportunity for the fellow.

Apply now

Important Dates 2022 to 2023

Fellowship Team

David Coven
Founder & CEO 

David hails from the Central District of Seattle, where his passion for access to opportunity was formed. Growing up, he set his sights on breaking the chains of poverty, which led him to study mechanical engineering at the University of Washington. During his undergrad, David worked at the National Science Foundation, Boeing, and Tesla and helped create the Hyperloop for SpaceX’s competition. It was through these dream jobs that he realized his calling: helping others pay for college through Scholarship Junkies, a non-profit he founded. He believes not worrying about money will free students to experience the magic of higher education. David is now expanding the vision of Scholar Fund to three areas: education access, relief funds, and community development.


Yuriana Garcia Tellez
Programs Manager - Fellowship Lead

Yuriana is a first-generation Latina from Michoacan, Mexico. She grew up in the state of Washington in a small, agricultural town. She later attended the University of Washington, earning her degree in Human-Centered Design and Engineering. Yuriana worked in higher education to increase access and success of immigrant and first-generation students by creating access programs and training. She founded the Beyond HB 1079 conference for immigrant students in Washington state, providing access to resources and community space. Before Scholar Fund, Yuriana served as the Diversity Outreach and Engagement Administrator at the City of Bellevue, where her goal was to engage diverse communities within Bellevue to be civically engaged and be at the forefront of equity initiatives.


Alejandra Pérez, M.Ed.
Director of Education Strategy - Fellowship Lead

Alejandra’s passion for educational equity comes from her advocacy with and for immigrant students and their families in Washington State. Alejandra has an extensive background in organizing for social justice, running large-scale events and conferences, and providing professional development to educators. She served as Co-Director for the Beyond HB 1079 Conference, was a member of the Dream Educational Empowerment Program National Advisory Council, and was a community organizer with the Washington Dream Coalition. For over six years, Alejandra coached and facilitated educator teams to shift adult mindsets and transform education systems throughout south King County. Alejandra graduated from Cleveland High School in south Seattle and went on to earn her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Education from the University of Washington Bothell.