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What is the Desmond Tutu Youth Fellows Program?

At the heart of the Desmond Tutu Center is a simple, bold idea: to identify, train, sustain, and connect the next generation of emerging young leaders struggling for social justice and reconciliation around the world and right here in Indiana. In 2013, the Desmond Tutu Center received a gift from the Herbert Simon Family Foundation, allowing the Center to launch its Youth Fellows Initiative, an empowerment program for young emerging leaders from Central Indiana and South Africa.

The Youth Fellows initiative is designed to support youth who want to change and challenge existing norms that prevent their community from achieving equality. In collaboration with Indianapolis-based Peace Learning Center, Central Indiana youth, ages 16-21, will be selected based on their passion for social justice and desire to implement a project that will uplift their community.

Youth Fellows from Central Indiana will travel to South Africa on an educational tour led by DTC Executive Director, Allan Boesak, close colleague and friend of Desmond Tutu. The two-week trip will take place during the last two weeks of July with expenses including passport fees, airfare, accommodations, and meals covered by the Desmond Tutu Center.

On this study trip, the Youth Fellows will be paired with an organization related to their social justice focus area. They will live with a South African family, see the country and struggles of the Apartheid, and seek out key South African lessons for social justice work and community development. Upon their return, the Youth Fellows will apply what they have learned by implementing a social justice project in Central Indiana.

During the second phase of the program, the process will repeat with Youth Fellows being selected from South Africa to travel to Indianapolis for an educational tour led by Allan Boesak where they will learn key lessons for social justice work and community development. Like the first cohort, the fellows will apply what they have learned to a social justice project in South Africa.

Throughout the program, the Desmond Tutu Center and the Peace Learning Center will hold public events with the Hoosier and South African cohorts, so that a wide variety of Hoosiers—a religiously, culturally, racially, and generationally diverse group—could learn more about the remarkable young people and their vision for a more peaceful world.

Who can apply:

  • Youth ages 16-21 years of age
  • Youth with an existing project or a new idea on achieving social change
  • Youth from low-income families
  • Youth who live in Marion, Boone, Hamilton, Madison, Hancock, Shelby, Johnson, Morgan, or Hendricks County.
  • Youth who can commit to implementing their project in Central Indiana during the 2016-2017.

How to apply:

  • Fill out the Youth Fellow Application form.
  • Answer the essay question at the end of the application in 600 words or less.
  • If you are 18 or older, sign and date the signature form.
  • If you are under 18, have your parent or legal guardian complete and sign the signature form.
  • Submit your application online by clicking here to access the electronic portal or mail your application to the following address:

Desmond Tutu Center
c/o The Christian Theological Seminary
1000 W. 42nd Street
Indianapolis, IN 46208

If you have any questions regarding the application process, please contact Jay Horan at Peace Learning Center by email at jhoran@peacelearningcenter.org or by phone at 317-327-7144.

Tentative Timeline:

  • Applications will be accepted from October-December 2015
  • Applications Due: January 1, 2016
  • Candidate selections & interviews conducted January-February 2016
  • Award Announcement: March 4, 2016
  • Prep-sessions begin June 2016
  • Travel to South Africa during the last two weeks of July
  • Project implementation window August-May 2017
  • Project Symposium: May 2017

Please note you will be notified via the contact information you provided in your application.

Application Deadline: January 1, 2016