Frequently Asked Questions

All too often pioneering leaders work in isolation, facing challenges alone and re-inventing the wheel as they look for solutions in an emerging field. But by bringing them together to share, challenge and collaborate, we jumpstart ideas, accelerate solutions farther and faster, and we're able to create more prosperity for more people.

Q. What is the Fellowship?

16 Fellows + 18 months + 6 retreats = Exponential Impact

Our Fellows meet every three months for a total of 6 deep, interactive retreats facilitated by world-renowned experts. The time is spent honing personal leadership and development, best of business models, economic strategies for key sectors and pathways for on-going mentorship, sharing and collaboration.

Year one strengthens the capacity, funding and infrastructure of the Fellows’ organizations, draws out breakthrough trends and models for the wider field, and links Fellows to each other to speed impact. Year two places special emphasis on building deeper connections back home and across communities.


Q. What are the results of the Fellowship?

After the 18 month Fellowship is completed, our Fellows return to their communities better able to build connections between local businesses, redevelop distribution and infrastructure, provide business training, educate markets, and advocate for more supportive policies.  These Fellows are connecting the dots in their hometowns and cities between emerging industries and community capital.

After completing their 18-month Fellowship, BALLE Local Economy Fellows walk away with:

  • Personal transformation in their own leadership style and development
  • An activated community of leaders in their home region via local communities of practice
  • Facilitation and meeting host training and toolkit
  • Communications and media training and toolkit
  • Working with difference training and toolkit
  • Monitoring and evaluation tools
  • An expanded leadership role within the national local economies movement
  • A peer leadership network with the 2014 Fellows cohort, the BALLE Fellows Alumni, and the broader BALLE peer learning community.  
Q. Are you the next BALLE Fellow?

The 2014-2015 BALLE Fellows will come from different sectors and backgrounds. Some are leaders of local business networks, for example an executive director with several hundred independent business members and multi-year track record of successful programs. Another candidate may lead an urban-entrepreneur incubator for underserved populations. The candidate may have huge multi-sector networks like a multi-county economic development agency, or she may be a rural food entrepreneur who collaborates with other local businesses, slowly but surely transforming their local economy. There is no one ‘right profile.’ The key is drive, and a proven track record of working to build the local economy with sustainability, localization and independently owned businesses.

Q. What are the criteria for candidates?

Here are some of the key traits that we are looking for:

  • Minimum of three years’ experience building local economy and community partnerships that yield results, including at least one year convening and coordinating independently owned businesses
  • Recognition as a local economy leader from regional partner groups, nonprofits, business community and relevant government agencies
  • Come from diverse backgrounds and represent diverse communities that are inclusive of the full diversity of North American society, with an emphasis on communities of color and low-income communities, and bring unique local economic solutions that are culturally and regionally specific to their communities.
  • An expressed passion for and interest in working with difference within and across communities.
  • Demonstrated multiple examples of collaboration locally, regionally and/or nationally.
  • Clear, articulated vision for short and medium term for what is possible through their local economy work.
  • Proven track record of specific innovations as a local leader, such as changing government spending or policy, measurable shift in business and consumer behavior, etc.
  • Proven track record of specific fundraising ability, financial management ability, and ability to convene and maintain key partnerships.
Q. What are the areas of focus?

The BALLE Local Economy Fellowship hones skills, connects peers and transforms personal impact through:

  1. Personal leadership development: Each Fellow receives personal leadership development and training targeted to their specific needs. Working closely with world class experts, Fellows are taken through transformative learning work with peer-to-peer and expert mentoring and coaching from the Ventana Group.

  2. Regional development: Core to the BALLE Fellowship is the idea that each Fellow brings their learning home to their community and fosters regional leadership and development. Each Fellow will receive training and support to build local ‘communities of practice’ or regional leadership groups. These groups will broaden the impact regionally and grow local leadership, expand funding opportunities, and convene new partnerships to advance each Fellow’s local work. 

  3. National influence: BALLE Fellows are chosen because they are pioneers in their communities and in the broader national movement. Fellows will work in partnership with each other and with BALLE to help to shape and advance the local economy movement. Partnering with national funders and thought leaders, BALLE Fellows commit to and support national initiatives that advance their regional work with new access to national partnerships. 

2014-2015 Areas of Focus

In 2013, the BALLE Fellowship will have three key areas of focus including community capital, prosperity for all, and developing regional leadership via local communities of practice. Preference will be given to candidates demonstrating experience and interest in these areas.

  1. Community Capital: Local economy innovators are under-resourced; few foundations have local economy programs, lenders and investors are still testing different discernment and investment criteria, and governments are skewed toward large corporations. However, there is growing interest from all of these sectors therefore pilot programs and idea exchange is crucial right now. BALLE is looking for candidates who are interested in building the local economy awareness and commitment of their region’s funders and investors of all kinds, from traditional lenders and investors to unaccredited community investors. We are interested in seeing new models emerge that finance the businesses and farms that are making the goods and services our communities need, as well as the nonprofits that support them. We seek to champion sourcing financing from the same communities and regions in which businesses are based.

  2. Prosperity for All: 92% of U.S. population growth is in limited-resource communities, many of which are communities of color. These are also the communities with the highest rates of poverty, fewest prospering local businesses and greatest need to rebuild their local economies (Brookings Institute 2012).  BALLE is the first and leading organization dedicated to leveraging local business to solve our communities’ toughest challenges and to unleash real prosperity. We believe ‘real prosperity’ means prosperity that’s accessible for all people. BALLE is seeking leaders in communities of color and limited-resource communities who are working with independently owned businesses to grow local economic solutions. Through the Fellowship, we seek to examine and pilot new ways of learning and working together to advance economic justice, equal access to ownership opportunity, and to build prosperity for all in Fellows’ communities and across North America.

  3. Local Communities of Practice: Communities of practice’ are peer-to-peer learning groups of 14-20 people who come together to jointly advance their common work. This can be sector specific (food, manufacturing, etc.) or convened by region, but the key is that change makers gather around critical local economy needs and enter into co-learning to advance their work. BALLE is looking for candidates interested in starting a local community of practice, or reshaping a current regional leadership group into a community practice with a goal of expanding local economy leadership in their home region.

Q. What is the time commitment?

Fellows commit to participate in six, multi-day (3-4 day) immersions over 18 months beginning in January 2014. Each immersion is a mix of training from world-class experts, dialogue and hands-on collaborative work. Fellows should also be prepared to spend time on fellowship activities between retreats to advance their network and collective goals.

Q. How is the Fellowship funded?

BALLE provides all training, lodging and meals for Fellows. Each Fellow is expected to pay his or her air and ground travel to each immersion. Immersion sites are selected with this in mind and each is located near a major airport. Fellows who need support for their travel costs may apply for a travel fund scholarship.

BALLE invests $80,000 in each Fellow over the course of the fellowship. Wherever possible and in order to serve as many leaders as possible, BALLE works with Fellows to build new support from regional funders to cover some of these costs. The additional goal of this approach is to help build long-term regional funding partnerships for local Fellows.  Fellow participation is paid for in one of two ways:

  1. BALLE will partner with Fellows to find match funding from regional donors (community foundations, family foundations, economic development offices, etc.) or
  2. For qualified Fellows who cannot bring match funding, scholarships are available.
Q. How does the selection process work?

We encourage early application, as Fellows will be selected on a rolling-admission basis, and selection will be closed when all 16 Fellows have been chosen.

Selection process:

  • Submission of complete written application due December 15, 2013.
  • Review of written application by the review committee.
  • Applicants who pass to the second round will be asked to provide three or four key partner references and participate in an interview with the BALLE Fellows selection committee.