The RISE Urban Leadership Fellows Program is a partnership of RISE San Diego and the Leadership Institute at the University of San Diego School of Leadership and Education Sciences (SOLES). RISE’s unique goal and commitment is to help identify and empower a generation of leaders who will not only bring our urban communities up, but also bring them together. Learn more by reviewing our full program description.

The application period for the 2020 class is now closed. Information on how to apply for the 2021 program year will become available in fall 2020; to receive announcements, please sign up for our Leadership Development mailing list.


RISE Fellows are selected through a competitive process open to any resident of San Diego County ages 18 and older. Particular invitation is extended to applicants who represent and have a deep history in urban centers of the region. Click here for additional eligibility information and answers to other FAQs. Potential RISE Fellows are expected to reflect the character, strengths, and hopes of San Diego’s urban communities.

To be considered, applicants must:

  • Provide clear and convincing evidence of strong roots and enduring commitment to an urban community of San Diego.

  • Demonstrate experience designing, dreaming, or delivering leadership to local community efforts. This experience, which may be aspirational as well as actual, can be in the public, private, nonprofit, academic, entrepreneurial, artistic, and/or technological sectors.

  • Hold an emergent capacity to converse and traverse the diversity of the region effectively with impact.

  • Commit to the entire 12-month program, especially attendance and participation in the four mandatory leadership forums (each forum is three full days, Thursday to Saturday), one-on-one coaching sessions, and coaching circles, and in the completion of an individual Community Action Project.

  • Agree to act as RISE Leadership Mentors upon completion of the program for future RISE Fellows and for high school students in our On the RISE youth leadership program.

  • Hold a high school diploma or GED, though preference will be given to those who have some college experience, including current enrollment. Preference is also given to those with at least five years of experience working in the community.


Please carefully review each of the dates below in our 2020 RISE Urban Leadership Fellows Program schedule. Our expectation is that RISE Fellows will attend all four forums and as many of the additional sessions/activities identified, as well as other key events of the RISE San Diego organization. Please take this into consideration as you apply.



Forum I

January 9-11, 2020

Technical Session I

March 21, 2020

Forum II

May 7-9, 2020

Technical Session II

August 1, 2020

Forum III

September 17-19, 2020

Technical Session III

November 7, 2020

Forum IV

December 3-5, 2020


December 16, 2020


The application period for the 2020 RISE Urban Leadership Fellows program is now closed. Applications for the 2021 program year will become available in fall 2020. Sign up for our Leadership Development mailing list to receive updates.

All of the following documents are required to complete your application and are to be uploaded as part of the application process. We advise you to gather these documents prior to beginning the online application.

  1. A recent copy of your résumé in PDF or Word (.doc — not .docx) format.

  2. A professional biography (300 words maximum) in PDF or Word (.doc — not .docx) format.

  3. Two (2) letters of recommendation from people familiar with your leadership capacity and efforts in the urban community. These documents should be submitted in PDF or Word (.doc — not .docx) format. Please note: These can be uploaded with the application, or submitted separately by email. Regardless of method, they must be received before the November 21 deadline).

  4. A quality, high resolution headshot. The photo does not need to be taken by a professional photographer, but should be professional in appearance. Please submit in .jpg or .png file format, with a minimum resolution of 300dpi and a maximum file size of 1MB.


  • We encourage you to download the fellowship application questions as a PDF or Word document for preparation purposes only. Please note that completed application questions submitted as a Word or PDF document will not be accepted. To apply for the program, you must complete and submit the online application form.

  • Review each application question and the list of required documents before starting the application—contact our team well before the deadline with any questions.

  • Request the required letters of recommendation right away—these can take some time to collect.

  • Plan ahead! Avoid the stress of potential last-minute technical issues by submitting the online application form and uploading all the required documents early. Remember—if you’re waiting on your letters of recommendation, they can be emailed separately so long as they are submitted before the deadline.


We look forward to hearing from you. Our team can be reached at 619-531-RISE (7473) or with any questions.