2022 Leading Social Justice Fellowship

Image of a white wall with graffiti saying "If not us, who? If not now, when?"



The 2022 Leading Social Justice Fellowship cohort has been announced! 
Learn more about the Fellowship teams and their projects


What is the Leading Social Justice Fellowship?

Graphic with pull quote by Ben Bongolan from Inclusive Cities at MonumentalThe Leading Social Justice Fellowship is a cross-sectoral leadership development program for individuals engaged in social justice transformation in the GTA, co-hosted by U of T's School of Cities, United Way of Greater Toronto and Rotman Executive Programs. If you’re passionate about social justice, form a team and join us in 2022.

WATCH the virtual information session on YouTube (1 hour). 

“Because of the Leading Social Justice Fellowship I am a more confident community advocate, and feel fortunate that I can now draw on an expansive network of like-minded professionals for support.” -Ben Bongolan, Inclusive Cities at Monumental

The Leading Social Justice Fellowship offers network building, project support, and leadership development centred in principles of equity and anti-racism to strengthen Fellows’ social justice practices and help them make progress on a social justice challenge within their organization or community in the GTA. 


Program Overview

The Leading Social Justice Fellowship will run from June - November 2022 (23 weeks inclusive of a 6-week summer break).
Participants can expect to spend 5-7 hours a week on Fellowship activities, including: 

  • Biweekly, live, online classes focused on leadership development with a social justice lens
    (Thursdays 6 pm - 9 pm, June 2, 16, 30; July 14, 28; September 8, 22; October 6, 20; November 3, 10)
  • Monthly facilitated project workshops
  • Monthly team coaching sessions
  • Targeted network building within teams’ focus areas and across sectors
  • Access to research from the University of Toronto (U of T) and living cases from United Way of Greater Toronto (UWGT) and local leaders

The Leading Social Justice Fellowship is a free program with financial support available to individuals and teams. See below for more details.

    Who is this for?

    Teams of 3 individuals from the private, public and community sector or independent activists addressing a social justice challenge within their organization or community. These individuals and teams should have:

    • Demonstrated leadership, commitment, and capacity in advancing social justice 
    • A mandate from professional or community roles to advance this work OR other support to devote 5-7 hours per week to their team and project
    • An orientation toward systemic and cross-sector solutions. Teams are encouraged, but not required, to form teams with individuals from different sectors.


    What will I get out of this experience? 

    Graphic with pull quote by the team from Data for Black Lives - GTA

    Fellows will become part of a cross-sector network of changemakers equipped with tools and practices to create inclusive and equitable organizations and communities. This will enable them to further develop their own approach to leadership and to advance their social justice project. 

    • Prototyped action plan to address the team’s specific social justice challenge that can be used as a lever or starting point for larger systemic change
    • Skillset to develop ecosystem maps of stakeholders and opportunities to advance change
    • Ability to initiate and lead cross-sectoral and systems-level approaches to tackling social justice challenges 
    • Fluency in critical and reflective practice to identify entrenched biases 
    • Understanding of how to design for the disparate needs of stakeholders, many of whom have been conventionally excluded
    • A U of T and UWGT Leadership Certificate

    “It helped us understand the intentionality required to become an impactful, compassionate leader by emphasizing how much leadership requires a personal transformation and never-ending curiosity and humility. We are excited to use learnings from the LSJF to build a community-centric Hub that nurtures a culture of mutual respect, trust, collaboration, and creativity.” -Sundus Haji-Jama and Fatima Mussa, Data for Black Lives - GTA


    Fellowship Financial Supports

    • Needs-Based Stipend: The Leading Social Justice Fellowship offers stipends of up to $1,500 per person to reduce barriers to participation for individuals. Applications will be available after acceptance to the Fellowship.
    • Team Project Funding: Every team can apply for up to $2,000 in Team Project Funding to use for the purposes of advancing their project. Applications will open mid-way through the program.


    What is a Social Justice Challenge?

    Applicants should apply with a specific social justice challenge in their organization or community that they would like to make progress on through this program. We define social justice as inclusive of economic and environmental justice issues.

    • Projects should address an issue in the GTA, including but not limited to housing and homelessness; inclusive employment; climate justice; gender-based violence; reconciliation; systemic racism; food justice; inclusive infrastructure and city-building
    • Projects should use a specific starting point or lever to address systemic inequities in the long term 
    • This could be a project you are already working on or a project you have just begun that could benefit from new tools, networks and/or skill sets to create the change you wish to see 
    • Upon acceptance, teams will work with program staff/coaches to map where the project is currently and to set goals for project progress during the Fellowship
    • Past project profiles


    Why now?

    Graphic with a pull quote by Lena Phillips from African Centre for Cities


    “In a time marked by ecological crisis, global reckonings on racial injustice, ongoing impacts of (neo/settler) colonialism, and COVID-19, the Leading Social Justice Fellowship provided necessary space for creative and diverse city-building practitioners to come together and re-imagine socially just alternatives. From the fellows to the faculty, I am very grateful for those I met throughout this process, and I look forward to the collaborations still to come.” -Lena Phillips, African Centre for Cities

    It is time for collective action to address longstanding, interconnected social, health, housing, and climate justice issues, including Truth and Reconciliation and broader equity and anti-racism imperatives. Now is a rare and unique opportunity to remake our economies, communities, and systems to be more just, inclusive and equitable. Doing so requires leaders in all sectors to act collectively, challenging what we’ve come to accept as normal. Rebuilding requires organizations and communities to equip changemakers with the long-term resources, capacity and agency necessary to initiate and sustain deep change.


    Application Process: 



      In partnership with

      United Way Greater Toronto  

      Rotman and U of T logo