Prime Movers

Social movements have repeatedly re-woven the tapestry of our country’s history. We chose to invest in men and women who seek to bend the arc of history toward justice, believing we would see a significant return on our investment as these individuals engage millions in pursuit of social change thus strengthening civic engagement across the United States.

The Prime Movers fellowship program is for emerging and established social movement leaders working from the local to national level. Uniquely, the program emphasizes the professional development of individual leaders who engage masses of people. The program seeks to cultivate community development among the leaders, establishing a resource rich network aimed at sharing knowledge and building supportive relationships across movements. This focus allows leaders to think beyond their organization and take on broader, more pivotal roles within their movements.

See All Prime Mover Fellows

Mission & Values

The Prime Movers program supports leaders who engage masses of people to create a more just society. Prime Movers are established social movement leaders who are public faces of mass movements in the US. We provide financial support, public policy contacts, advocacy training, networking occasions, opportunities for reflection, and a peer network to strengthen their leadership.

Prime Movers lead a variety of social movements, which are collective actions, sustained by people who are affected by injustice, towards changing policies, cultural behavior, or social inequities. The program enhances Prime Movers’ leadership skills to catapult their leadership capacity in their social movements. The program consists of two major components that facilitate the their professional development:

  1. Individualized Support
    Prime Movers each receive a $60,000 grant for customized professional development. The grant is distributed over the first two years of their fellowship and is strictly for individual development purposes, not organizational support.
  2. Community Building and Peer Networking
    Prime Movers convene several times a year to discuss common issues and challenges and to identify pathways for change. Prime Movers also often contact one another for advice and assistance.

Through participation in the program, Prime Movers become part of a diverse peer network that fortifies their individual leadership. This focus allows leaders to think beyond their organizations and take on broader, more pivotal roles within their movements.

What the Fellows Do

Build Peer Community
An intentional aspect of the program, gathering peers together is necessary to building trust and lasting relationships. Prime Movers convene in various settings—from informal gatherings to more formal seminars, retreats, and peer-to-peer phone calls. As a peer community, Prime Movers openly discuss intersecting issues and discover new pathways for leading change. Activities include:

Seminars
Prime Movers opt into seminars covering everything from movement strategy and personal strategic positioning to theoretical discussions related to mobilizing masses of people. The program may bring in experts to inform conversation. For example, one seminar examined public narrative through Marshall Ganz’ curriculum on identity, agency, and action.

Reflection Retreats
Prime Movers participate in a three day retreat, cloistered away from the demands of movement leadership. The time spent together focuses on a mixture of movement-based conversation and relationship building.

Peer-to-Peer Calls
Prime Movers nourish one another as leaders and discuss current issues that are “top of mind.” The peer community selects topics and Prime Movers take turns serving as facilitators. The goal of the conversation is to have concrete takeaways for participants.

Individual Learning
Prime Movers receive $60,000 in grant funds for customized professional development. The grant is distributed over the first two years of their fellowship and is strictly for individual development purposes, not organizational support.

Each Prime Mover develops a work plan to guide their individual professional development. Activities range widely. Prime Movers have used funds to:

  • Hire an executive coach
  • Hire a public speaking coach
  • Hire a media consultant
  • Attend a media training
  • Attend a leadership program
  • Write a handbook or guide to support their movement
  • Write a book
  • Convene other leaders in their field

Lead Social Movements
Prime Movers lead social movements—vital work that has no end. By participating in fellowship’s collective activities and individual skill building, Prime Movers are asked to think beyond their organizations and take on broader, more pivotal roles within their movements.

Program Leadership

  • Iman Abdul-Musawwir, Director