The Heritage Foundation’s Young Leaders Program completed another session of The Academy, an online program for rising leaders. The class of 138 participants brings the total number of individuals who have graduated from The Academy to 426 during the past year.
While the Young Leaders Program serves mostly college students, The Academy’s participants also include high school students, graduate students, young professionals, civic leaders, and members of faith communities from around the world. The program has hosted 44 international participants from countries as diverse as Argentina, France, India, Brazil, and Singapore.
Participants learn about the basics of conservatism through twice-weekly, one-hour webinars in which they engage with Heritage Foundation scholars, policy experts, and conservative movement leaders. Additionally, they study books and essays that present the foundational principles of American political thought and explore current issues in foreign, domestic, and economic policy.
Program participants have given The Academy high marks, with 99% of graduates reporting that they are “able to defend conservatism after going through The Academy.” The same percentage say they leave the program “committed to building an America where freedom, opportunity, prosperity, and civil society flourish”—the mission of The Heritage Foundation.
"As an international fellow from Europe, The Academy was a perfect opportunity to connect with members of The Heritage Foundation and learn about American principles and foreign policy,” said Alexandre Massaux, who joined the program from Poland. “It was an engaging experience for someone who is interested in having a policy role and promoting freedom."
Before graduating, each participant is encouraged to complete a final capstone project that builds off of something they’ve learned through the program. These can be research projects, written op-eds, or presentations aimed at creating clear policy proposals. Some of the best are put on Heritage’s news outlet, The Daily Signal.
For example, Academy graduate Neil Banerji was able to collaborate with Nile Gardiner, director of Heritage’s Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom, to write an article advocating for a joint Anglo-American response to the rising Chinese threat.
“I’m very proud of the tremendous work our Academy fellows have put into their work with us,” says Helena Richardson, director of Heritage’s Young Leaders Program. “Our initial class of 152 graduating fellows has more than doubled, and we hope to see those numbers increase in the future.”