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Lead Forward takes an innovative approach to leadership development, one that uniquely promotes students’ ability to create and implement a leadership vision toward a greater good. To overcome unique challenges, to bring about real change, student leaders must learn to imagine new possibilities and work with others to carve out new paths. Lead Forward allows students to hone these abilities now, while making a meaningful impact on campus or beyond. Through dynamic classes, insightful speakers, and tailored coaching, program participants will learn the theory and practices behind social impact leadership. Through the Lead Forward Fellowship, select teams of program participants will receive a sizable grant and additional mentorship to support the implementation of their leadership vision. Students who complete the program pathway will be recognized with the Lead Forward credential.

Starting the Journey Forward

In the first stage of the Lead Forward pathway, students may choose from several options that provide an introduction to leadership development. While distinct in many ways, these options provide students an entry point into their development that allows them to explore different approaches to leadership, define their own leadership identity, and clarify the commitments they want to pursue through their leadership moving forward. These options include:
Students will also take two courses that provide knowledge and skills necessary for developing and enacting a leadership vision that benefits others. HONR 299: Lead Forward Theory (1 cr) uses a case-study approach to help students engage concepts for social impact leadership in context and imagine possibilities for their own leadership vision. HONR 299: Lead Forward Praxis (2 cr) adopts a workshop format that allows students to put concepts and strategies into practice. Students will also engage with community service opportunities and explore ethical approaches to social impact leadership. In addition to these two courses, program participants are encouraged to enroll in classes or participate in programs that will provide them the knowledge and skills they need to realize their leadership vision.

Lead Forward Fellowship Grant

The Lead Forward Fellowship is a competitive grant that provides student leadership teams of two to five with resources and coaching needed to enact their leadership vision. The fellowship includes a seed grant of up to $5,000, as well as participation in single credit courses in the Fall and Spring semesters, where leadership teams will receive further instruction on social impact leadership and allow for collaborative learning between fellows. Fellows will also receive personalized mentorship opportunities from Lead Forward Luminaries (visiting speakers) and Lead Forward Mentors (Purdue faculty and/or staff) with experience in visionary leadership, social impact, community engagement, social entrepreneurship, organizational leadership, etc.

Lead Forward Fellowship Grants are competitive and will be awarded based on the viability and potential impact of the leadership vision as well as the efforts of the student leadership team to prepare themselves for enacting their leadership vision. Students interested in applying for the fellowship will be provided further instructions as well as a template for the grant application.

Completing the Lead Forward Credential

To receive a Lead Forward credential, program participants will complete an Honors College Scholarly Project or Research Thinking Portfolio based on the leadership vision they enacted. This provides students an opportunity to investigate different aspects of their Lead Forward journey and further mine it for meaning and learning. More information on the different options for completing the Honors College scholarly project or research thinking portfolio can be found here.

Lead Forward Luminaries

Each academic year, four to six Lead Forward Luminaries will be brought to campus to provide additional instruction and inspiration to program participants. Luminaries will include leaders who have had success making change for a greater good, whether through social movements, social entrepreneurship, non-profit organization, etc. Responsibilities will include mentoring fellowship teams, visiting a Lead Forward Theory or Practice class, and/or participating in a talk or workshop open to program participants and other interested students.

Lead Forward Mentors

Lead Forward Mentors will consist of faculty and staff at Purdue with expertise related to envisioning and enacting social impact leadership, many of whom will likely have preexisting connections with fellowship teams. Responsibilities will include providing support to one of the fellowship teams and, if interested, participating in talks, workshops, or other leadership learning opportunities within the program. Mentors will be awarded stipends based on their level of involvement with the program.