DePodesta Fellowship

DePodesta Fellowship

Friday, February 5, 2021

The John DePodesta Leadership Fellowship is a partnership between Minneapolis-based ECMC Group and the University of Minnesota that enables graduate students to address fundamental challenges facing postsecondary education.

The Fellowship is designed for graduate or PhD students in business, public policy, sociology or education, who will have the ability to test or develop plans to launch a new venture or co-design new programs in partnership with existing educational organizations that seek to improve the quality of postsecondary education. The Fellowship was developed in recognition of John DePodesta, a founding board member and immediate past chair of ECMC Group, who has spent the past 25 years working to help students succeed.

Initial feasibility grants of $15,000 will be awarded annually for up to four students. Subsequent launch grants of up to $75,000 may be made available to students demonstrating strong progress with their concepts, significant potential impact from their venture and a commitment to operate the venture full-time for at least 12 months post-graduation.

Learn more about the DePodesta Fellowship by watching this video  

More information on the application process for 2022 fellowships will be provided in advance of the January application deadline.


Meet the 2021 DePodesta Fellows:

Jessica Thompson
Proposed Social Venture: First Generation Success

Jessica is a third-year PhD student currently working on her doctoral degree analyzing the outcome of first generation students and the intersection of programs designed to support their educational success.  Jessica received a 2020 DePodesta Fellowship to explore the student experience before, during and after their education at UMN.  Through this fellowship, she launched a trial course in fall of 2020 that engaged students and staff at UMN to learn design thinking skills and apply these skills toward the development of new programs at UMN that will increase student engagement and success.  Jessica is receiving a 2021 implementation grant to continue her work to further develop and roll out this programming at other colleges and universities.

Cassandra Silveira
Proposed Social Venture: Expanding Post-Secondary Opportunities for Autistic Young Adults

Cassie is a fourth-year PhD student Organizational Leadership and Policy Development.  She is currently enrolled in the STARTUP: Customer Discovery course testing the development of industry specific training programs for young adults on the autism spectrum.  Cassie will explore the development of an on-campus residential program that develops experiential living skills that, combined with training, will prepare them for a successful transition to adult life.

Ryan Wold
Proposed Social Venture: Promoting Success of First-Generation College Students Through Affordable Mentoring Programs

Ryan is a third-year PhD student seeking to leverage his dissertation research taking place at the intersection of communication technologies and entrepreneurship.  Ryan is currently enrolled in the STARTUP: Customer Discovery course testing the development of a low-cost and easy-t-use software for creating, managing and measuring the effectiveness of mentor programs.  Despite the known efficacy of mentor programs, the lack of cost-effective options limits their availability to the students most in need.  Ryan will pilot his service in two mentor programs, with a specific focus on serving first-generation college students.