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Pathy Foundation Fellowship

Welcome back PISA members! This week, we’re highlighting an amazing post-graduate opportunity that you could be eligible for as a graduating Gaiter this year. Below is an interview we did with Jessica Franko, the Program Assistant at the Pathy Foundation Fellowship (and a former Pathy Fellow herself). The Pathy Fellowship is a new opportunity at Bishop’s University. Read on to learn about how you could be eligible for $40,000 in funding to lead a community-focused project for change!

Q: What exactly is the Pathy Foundation Fellowship?

A: The Pathy Foundation Fellowship (PFF) is a 12-month, intensive experiential learning, youth-leadership, community development opportunity for graduating Bishop’s students to implement a self-directed project in a community they have a meaningful connection with. Successful candidates are provided with comprehensive training in leading approaches, principles and philosophies of leadership and community development, a rich support network, and up to $40,000 of funding to implement their initiatives.

We really mean intensive. If you’re looking for a dedicated experience to make tangible change and develop as an effective leader, challenge yourself personally, pursue a path aligned to your values, and experience a deeply connected and supportive network in a stimulating environment – this opportunity will be perfect for you!

Q: Who is eligible to apply?

A: The program is designed for students who have:

  • the capacity and potential to develop as effective change-agents;

  • a pre-existing, meaningful connection with a community of their choosing; and

  • an innovative idea of how this community could be strengthened.

Graduating students who have finished their studies on a majority full-time basis in ANY field, program or discipline are eligible. Current undergraduate, Masters, post-grad (e.g., Law or B.Ed, etc), certificate or diploma students are eligible to apply (however you need a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree). You must have completed all of your course requirements prior to the start date of the program (which is June 7th, 2021 for this cycle). You must also be either a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, and be under 30 years old by the start date of the Program.

Q: What kinds of projects and communities does Pathy consider?

A: We define both community and potential project ideas broadly. 

In brief, your community can be anywhere, and defined geographically (i.e., anywhere you have existing networks and experience), or by commonality (i.e., a group of people sharing common interests, characteristics, or experiences). You will need to demonstrate what this community means to you, how you are connected to the community, and that you have a strong, meaningful connection.

You project idea can be anything you’re passionate about! In the past, we’ve taken on projects in a broad range of topics, sectors and justice issues. Your initiative idea can be anything related to social, cultural, environmental, economic or political change and justice, and any variation or overlap of those categories. As long as you are addressing your community’s priorities in a new, innovative, or entrepreneurial way, your project is most likely eligible!

Your project idea does not have to be fully formed at this stage of the application. In fact, it’s expected and encouraged that your idea has a level of flexibility and fluidity so that it can be further refined and developed once you have completed the program training components prior to entering your community.

Q: What makes a strong application?

A: The Selection Committee looks for the strength of three main considerations in your application: the strength/suitability of you as an individual candidate, the strength of your connection to community, and the strength of your project idea.

In presenting yourself as a candidate, the Selection Committee will want to get a glimpse into your leadership style, your relevant experiences and service to others, and your values. We take a very personal approach to applications. We want to see who you are as much as possible in the application, so feel free to speak your truth, tell your story, and be authentic.

In assessing your strength to community, the Selection Committee will want to see the answers to how you got involved with your chosen community, what this community means to you, why you wish you return to work with this community, and whether or not the community has a desire to work with you as a Fellow.

Finally, a strong project idea will be one that is innovative or entrepreneurial, that attempts to address community priorities in a new way, and is centered around your community. Further, the Selection Committee will want to see that the proposed initiative is sustainable (i.e., what will happen to this project once your time as a Fellow is over), feasible within the time and budgetary constraints of the Fellowship, and scalable (i.e., has the potential and capacity to grow into something impactful within your community, or could be replicated elsewhere).

Q: What is the most surprising or unique aspect of the program?

A: There are two main aspects of the program which I find really unique.

Firstly, the funding ($40,000!) follows a very non-paternalistic, non-prescriptive model. We follow a structure of supported autonomy, which means that you are supported through a number of valuable resources and networks, but generally will face little intrusion or prescriptive guidance on the decisions that you make as a Fellow while implementing your project. This includes decisions surrounding how you wish you spent your funding on your project activities, or in the design and implementation of your project more broadly. This differs greatly from programs where there are strict boundaries to the decisions you are able to make and how you are trusted in enacting your agency. Pathy supports and trusts young people in making hard decisions, and encourages learning through this approach.

The second, and frequently under-known aspect of the Fellowship which is unique, is the emphasis on personal development. Each Fellow will undergo periodic “Life” coaching sessions with the program Coach, where you’ll be able to set intentions and goals for areas of personal growth and development, and hone into your leadership qualities, and grow your competencies. Self-care, especially as passionate young people in service to others, is a crucial component to making tangible, sustainable change. That’s why we prioritize each Fellows’ wellbeing and personal journeys through this experience.

Q: Do you have any helpful tips or resources for potential applicants?

A: Use the space provided in the application to the best of your ability (and the full character count), be genuine and authentic, and don’t try to sugarcoat the potential challenges you anticipate in your proposed project (Covid-19 related or otherwise). In other general guidance, I highly recommend using the resources listed below – they will help you to write an informed, strong application.

There are a ton of resources available to you as you complete your application!

  1. Reach out to your university representative (Professor Michael Teed – He is well versed in the program, and more specifically, can help you to draw out and articulate your competencies and skills as a leader, and your community networks for your application.

  1. As the Program Assistant (and a former Fellow!) my role exists in entirety to support applicants and Fellows as they move through this experience. I am also not on the Selection Committee, so can provide in-depth information about all aspects the Fellowship from a Fellow’s perspective, and can also provide candid and transparent information about program and application, independently from the Selection Process. I am here to help you create the strongest application possible, and can help you to refine your project idea, and application in general! Feel free to reach out any time (Jessica Franko –! I would love to support you!

  1. Check out the links through our LinkTree to book a one-on-one support session, listen to past interviews, register for an Info Session, and find other helpful resources through our website (like our Alumnx page, FAQs and Contact Page).

Q: What did you wish you knew about the program before you were selected as a Fellow?

A: So much! From the rich bonds of support you’ll develop with your cohort members, to the impact of personal development coaching, to the approach taken to learning throughout the Fellowship – this experience is deeply transformative.

Pathy prioritizes you as an individual and person first, beyond all else. I have never been a part of such an enriching, supportive space which approaches learning so holistically, and where I have been respected and valued for all of the messiness that comes with being a young person finding our place in the world and in creating change.

I think what surprised me most about Pathy was how responsive they are to the complexities of youth leadership and community development, and how expertly the program moves through tough conversations, growth and learning. This space is one where you are appreciated and understood, and allowed to show up exactly as you are, and where you have all of the spaciousness and support necessary to grow and evolve into the person you want to become.

I am a better version of myself for having done this program, and I love helping students discover how they could grow and learn through Pathy as well!

Q: Who do I contact, or where do I go for more information?

A: Contact me (Jess, the Program Assistant) with ANY questions you have about your eligibility, the application, or the program in general. 

Check out our website, or our Facebook and Instagram pages for all of the most relevant and updated information!

Q: When is the deadline?

A: November 12th at 2pm Eastern!

I look forward to seeing your name on an application soon, and to learning about Bishop’s students’ visions for change in their communities!

Even if you aren’t eligible this year, feel free to reach out any time! It’s never too early to start thinking about your application, and start building community networks, and developing project ideas.

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