BALLE Local Economy Fellowship

The BALLE Local Economy Fellowship is an immersive, 18-month program designed solely to advance the new economy movement.  Where other programs focus on individual social entrepreneurs trying to scale single enterprises, BALLE seeks the most innovative local economy connectors - people who each represent, convene, and influence whole communities of local businesses – to be part of a program deeply rooted in shared learning, collaboration and local impact.   

In our current economic world, systems are failing; relationships aren’t being cared for, few are profiting at the expense of others or at the expense of the natural world, and there is a growing sense of inequality in our communities. 

And still, there are leaders emerging all over North America that see opportunities to deepen connections in their regions, starting with local businesses; connections that help businesses and their communities cooperate for the good of the whole. Most of them come with a strong desire to change a system that may not have worked for them in the past to redistribute power within communities, and to leave a legacy of empowerment for others behind them. 

The Local Economy Fellowship program is designed to equip Fellows with the most cutting-edge leadership and capacity–building skills that will advance their work, connect them with their peers across North America, and provide a national platform to share their models so that other regions can learn from them.  At BALLE, we believe that by investing in multiple local economies in every state through our Fellowship program, and aligning 250 interconnected communities over the next decade, we can bring the attention and resources needed to create lasting change.  









Want to learn more?  Download this webinar and hear insights to the only Fellowship program dedicated solely to advancing the local economy movement and how YOU can become part of the next BALLE Local Economy Fellowship.  

*The deadline for the 2014 Fellowship has now passed.  Contact to request late application approval which can be granted in special cases. 

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Connect with peers. Share innovations. Sharpen impact.

After completing their 18-month Fellowship, BALLE Local Economy Fellows gain inspiration, skills, meaningful connection and impact in their communities.  Fellows walk away with:

  • Personal transformation and leadership development
  • Tools to activate their communities at home
  • Facilitation training
  • Communications toolkit
  • Skills to better work with racial/ethnic difference
  • Monitoring and evaluation tools
  • Expanded leadership role within the national Localist movement
  • Peer leadership network with BALLE Fellows Alumni, local economy funders and the broader BALLE learning community
  • Community Capital tools

Why I Became a BALLE Local Economy Fellow...

Our Fellows are natural leaders. They come from all walks of life, are natural conveners, and have tremendous pride in their place. They are looking for a transformation in their leadership capacity, to accelerate their local and collective impact, and to help make the key elements of a local economy – local ownership and production, connection and alignment with purpose, community and the natural world, and prosperity for all – more mainstream and actionable.

Many have been spotlighted in the national media, with awards for various innovations – localizing food systems and building food access, growing green jobs, pioneering new farmer training programs, shifting government support toward local entrepreneurs, and so much more.  They are exploring new business and financing models, identifying effective leverage points and sorting out the best methods to track and measure progress.  BALLE Fellows often describe their work as “making it up as I go along." They are creative and scrappy.

Learn more about the exciting local economy work being done by our current Fellows and Alumni.

Collective Impact


Prior to joining the fellowship, Fellows and Alumni were leaders in their own right, but together they were able to harness the collective strength of their combined talents and ideas, and multiply their impact.  Upon completion, leaders emerge stronger, more supported, and more impactful than ever before.   

Here is just a sampling of some of the exciting experiences our Fellows and Alumni have been included in throughout the year:

  • Participated in an intimate day-long session in Oakland, CA with a dozen of the nation’s top community capital innovators – leading philanthropists, foundations, investors, and pioneers
  • Invitations to the Growing Impact Economy Summit at Harvard University and the Champions of Change Ceremony at the White House
  • Called on as presenters at ASBC’s Summit for a Sustainable Economy held in Washington D.C., which included meetings with nine U.S. Congressional offices 
  • Attended the three-day Social Venture Institute (SVI) Hollyhock retreat on Cortes Island where they formed deep relationships with many of the movement’s strongest leaders and funders
  • Tours of each other’s communities to see what working in locations such as Oakland, Newark and Phoenix – which included rooftop drinks with the mayor!
  • Connections to national media outlets such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and US News & World Report, which recently featured Fellows such as Asheville, NC-based Matt Raker
  • Invitational only opportunities with local economy foundations, mission-aligned investors and BALLE’s Funder’s Circle

During the Fellowship, transformation happens on both an individual and collaborative level.  Fellows face similar challenges in their respective communities – from food justice to access to capital, entrepreneur support to green building, they have collaborated on projects and initiatives as a result of the Fellowship.  

  • Fellows from Los Angeles, Detroit and Oakland have created the Food Justice Collective Impact Initiative, an initiative to tackle similar issues around food justice, particularly in underserved communities of color, for which they have received grant funding
  • A Philadelphia Community of Practice was formed and local storm water businesses are now collaborating for the $2 billion dollars of contracts coming to the city for green jobs

What does it take to be a BALLE Fellow?

  • Proven track record: Minimum of three years' experience building local economy and community partnerships that yield results, including at least one year convening and coordinating locally owned businesses;
  • Commitment to current work: Commitment to stay in your current position or organization for a minimum of two years
  • Confidence of your community: Recognition as a local economy leader from regional partner groups, nonprofits, the business community and relevant government agencies;
  • Representative of multiple cultures and experiences: Come from communities that represent the full diversity of North American society, with an emphasis on communities of color, low-income populations and regional diversity;
  • Bridge builder and fierce collaborator: Demonstrated examples of successful collaborations locally, regionally and/or nationally;
  • Clear vision: Clearly able to articulate your vision for what is possible, short and long-term, through your local economy work;
  • Financial viability: Proven track record with fundraising, financial management acumen, and ability to convene and maintain key partnerships;
  • Organizational viability:  Your organization is past the start-up phase, making it possible for you to attend eight convenings over eighteen months (six immersions and two national conferences)

We believe that real prosperity means prosperity for all people and are particularly seeking leaders from communities of color and low-income populations.  BALLE is committed to a diverse cohort of Fellows based on race, gender and geographic region.

Apply Today!

Application Timeline and Process:

December 15, 2013: Deadline for written application
January – March 2014: Semi-finalist interviews and submission of organization profile data.
June 2014: Announce 2014 BALLE Fellows
October 2014: First Fellows Immersion


*The deadline for the 2014 Fellowship has now passed.  Contact to request late application approval which can be granted in special cases.

Our Partners

BALLE Local Economy Fellowship Program Team

BALLE's central partner in Fellowship content development and program oversight is the Ventana Group, world renowned leaders in transformative leadership development and systems change.


Other key program partners:

BALLE Local Economy Fellowship Selection and Advisory Committee

BALLE is very grateful for our partner organizations who help us find and select BALLE Fellows: