The Heritage Foundation’s acclaimed Young Leaders Program recently launched The Academy, an online program for rising leaders. The program was created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which required a shift to virtual programming.
“We wanted to educate students, young professionals, and civic leaders on the principles of American political thought and the important policy debates facing our country,” said Helena Richardson, director of Heritage’s Young Leaders Program. “In just over a month, the program had over 400 applicants. It was amazing.”
Ultimately, 200 students from 38 states were accepted into the inaugural class. There were also participants from five different countries: Argentina, Colombia, India, Peru, and Singapore.
“Nearly a quarter of participants actually had moderate, liberal, or socialist viewpoints,” said Richardson. “We firmly believe that these people can be persuaded on good policy. This is something we have never had the chance to do. This program allows us to make an investment in our future.”
Unlike the Young Leaders Program, which is largely made up of college students, The Academy’s participants also included high school students, undergraduate, masters students, young professionals, civic leaders, and members of faith communities. The age of the fellows ranged from 16 to 40.
Through a series of three weekly, private one-hour webinars, participants engaged with Heritage Foundation scholars, policy experts, and movement leaders. They also studied the foundational principles of American political thought and explored current issues in foreign, domestic, and economic policy.
“This program is amazing and I hope it will continue even after the pandemic situation has been resolved,” said Sabrina Leeloo Rosell, a participant from Florida International University. “Not every person is able to completely relocate in order to get an immersive internship experience, but The Academy allows The Heritage Foundation to unite anyone who is willing to learn and ready to receive the valuable information that this organization has to offer.”
The Academy plans to hold a 12-week program in fall 2020 and in spring 2021.