Austin tech leader launches fellowship program to support local philanthropy

by Kelly O'Halloran
May 14, 2018
notley fellowship
photo provided by notley

Since founding Notley in 2015 to invest in companies, programs and nonprofits with social missions, founders Dan and Lisa Graham have seen rising demand for human capital to support those ventures. So they decided to do something about it.

Enter Notley’s new Fellowship Program: a cohort of 22 individuals from Austin tech and beyond that will spend the next two years cultivating solutions to address some of our city’s most challenging social impact issues.

Of the 22 fellows, nearly half hail from the Austin tech sector, with representatives from companies like Facebook, Clearhead, Galvanize, Andela and Spredfast.

“I’m looking forward to watching these ambitious young people make a difference and watch them grow in their confidence in how they engage with the world,” said Dan Graham.

While the fellows can introduce new initiatives to tackle, Graham said the cohort will also have the option to join some of Notley’s existing projects focused on homelessness, domestic violence, affordable housing, shelters, art and live music, to name a few.

We wanted to get a broad mosaic of perspectives from individuals from a diverse set of sectors.”

And they’ll have two years to take on these issues.

“Most of our community’s problems can’t be solved in 12 months,” said Graham, who co-founded Austin tech company BuildASign.com in 2005. “We wanted to provide different phases of the fellowship.”

The first six months of the program will entail connecting the group with various stakeholders throughout town as well as surveying what projects already exist and what issues haven’t been addressed. The fellows will spend the remaining 18 months joining community teams and playing a larger role in pushing initiatives forward.

Graham, his wife Lisa and his staff specifically sought out individuals between the ages of 22 and 35 who are employed full time for a for-profit, local organization. Graham said more than 70 applicants applied for the inaugural group.

“This is not an internship, and it’s not a job,” said Graham. “This is a dedication of time and bandwidth outside of their existing roles. We’re trying to create a cohort of people that will be moving together through their careers in step.”

In choosing between applicants, Graham, alongside a Notley committee, evaluated candidates based on stages of their careers, levels of excitement, motivation, commitment to the extra work and more.

“We wanted to get a broad mosaic of perspectives from individuals from a diverse set of sectors while at the same time selecting the most outstanding candidates that we could,” said Graham.

Notley’s fellowship program kicks off this Tuesday with a happy hour networking event. You can follow the cohort’s progress over the next two years here.

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