The Rural Futures Fellowship is an immersive 18 month practical training programme during which 20 young people are introduced to the philosophy, practice and science of rewilding, regenerative agriculture and community-led conservation practices.

Why a Fellowship?

Every year, the Eastern Himalayan region loses over 100,000 hectares of forest. In a region where forests are a lifeline for communities, the consequences have been devastating: declining agricultural yields and incomes, poor employment opportunities and increase climate vulnerability. Young people increasingly migrate in search of jobs, only to face high costs of living and little to no social security or community. The Rural Futures Fellowship targets youth from across the Eastern Himalayan region, to raise a next generation of environmental leaders with the skills needed to rewild forests across the region and become sustainable entrepreneurs – revitalizing their communities, local economies and landscapes.

Young Leaders

Training youth to lead programmes equipping them with the skills, knowledge and mindset to become effective leaders and change-makers to combat climate change & ecological degradation

Sustainable Entrepreneurship

Focusing on encouraging young people to build their own organizations and start their own businesses tapping into and leveraging the global movement towards sustainable supply chains and investments in nature-based solutions

Rewilding Local Economies

Revitalizing local economies through youth networks, leading agroforestry and rewilding programmes

Transformational Impact

1280 hectares of restored forest, 1.3 million trees, agroforestry in 1300 households directly impacting 6500 people with each cohort of 20 fellows.

Outreach & Inclusivity

Indigenous & rural youth – the Fellowship will primarily target young people (21 – 35) from indigenous & rural communities in the Eastern Himalayan region, including indigenous youth diaspora and aspiring environmental leaders in urban centres

Women & gender-diverse people – an equal weightage for women and gender-diverse aspirants who apply to the fellowship

Lower socioeconomic status – young people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds in both urban and rural communities are prioritized

Scaling for Action

Through the Fellowship, the Balipara Foundation aims to build a network of young people with the skills and the capacities to expand rewilding in the region at the exponential scale needed to reverse systemic ecological degradation in the Eastern Himalayas

Rewilding Grant

At the end of the fellowship, Fellows are invited to pitch for 12 Rewilding grants, to restore 100 hectares of land. Successful pitches will use the grant to work on 90 hectares of forest restoration and 10 hectares of agroforestry, with extensive support and continued mentorship from the Balipara Foundation team as they embark on their journey as rewilding entrepreneurs.

Application Starts : 1st March 2023 - Application Ends : 30th June 2023

For More Details,
[email protected]

Frequently Asked Questions

What is RuFu Fellowship?

RuFu Fellowship is a 18 months of immersive & residential practical training programme, during which young fellows will be introduced to the philosophy, practice and science of rewilding, regenerative agriculture and community-led conservation practices.
The journey of the fellows will be divided across six semesters wherein they will simultaneously go through a technical and personal transformational journey. The technical transformational journey will entail:

  1. Landscape Immersion
  2. Indigeneous knowledge and research
  3. Journey towards rewilding
  4. System Immersion
  5. Launching entrepreneurial journey and
  6. Entrepreneurial establishment

In the personal transformational journey fellows are expected to"

  1. 1. Build self consciousness
  2. 2. Understand social interdependencies
  3. 3. Decode systemic change
  4. 4. Analyse ecosystems
  5. 5. Decode entrepreneurial mindset
  6. 6. Entrepreneurial setup
When does the Fellowship Batch begin?

The Fellowship batch begins on 1st October 2023, with recruitments ongoing from March - August.

What does the RuFu Fellowship entail?

The fellowship entails 12 months Residential and 6 Months Entreprenuerial Journey divided into 6 semesters. Each Semester has a course for technical learning on rewilding and forest conservations through methods of regenerative agriculture along with personal learning in terms of building leadership and entrepreneurial skills.

What are the core principles of RuFu Fellowship?
  1. Horizontal, democractic, scientific leadership - accept and test all ideas equally, encourage everyone at all levels to share ideas and be owners of projects, ground-up learning & listening to all voices including of 'beneficiaries', co-creating for change
  2. Curious engagement with the world - about nature, about people, asking questions about why things are the way they are and why they work the way they do, belief in equality & equal opportunities for all.
  3. Preserving and restoring the wild - We believe in working with existing wild spaces to restore habitats through scientific afforestation, blending “manmade” landscapes seamlessly back into “wild” spaces.
  4. Non-disruption - As part of our commitment to working with wild spaces, we are committed to an ethic of non-disruption both to endemic habitats and wildlife and to communities – seeking instead to work alongside their aspirations and practices to effectively restore habitats and create livelihoods.
  5. Celebrating Community Aspirations - We work in a participatory, bottom-up manner with communities to ensure that all our projects are aligned with community aspirations for socioeconomic mobility to generate effective impact
  6. Non-discrimination - As part of our commitment to fairness, diversity and equality, we practice a strict ethos of non-discrimination in all our work spaces, seeking to create inclusive spaces for people regardless of gender, class, race, language, ethnicity, religion, caste, sexual orientation and disability.
How is the Fellowship different than a Job?

A fellowship gives a life experience while working and learning on a stipened and not a salary which a job offers. Fellows share a co-living space whereas in a job there is a co-living space does not exist. A fellowship is of a fixed tenure and a job is a continual tenure of employment.

Why should I join RuFu Fellowship?

RuFu fellowship enables young people to tap into rewildng and sustainibility based entrepreneurship to revitalize communities, local economies and landscapes. Their personal journey will cultivate their awareness and resilience as future practitioners, through the dimensions of self,society,systems and ecosystems to find a meaningful connection in their entrepreneurial journey. The skill building will be a learning on key technical skills and knowledge that will help the fellows to manage rewilding and sustainable agroforestry in collaboration with local communities as well as manage one's own buissness or organization. Fellows will have hands on opportunities to demonstrate their skills they learn under the guidance of the Balipara Foundation team and as they pilot their own project with a 10 hectare rewilding project in their community.

How many Fellows does the Fellowship take in one batch?

The Fellowship will have 20 Fellows per batch

Where do these Fellows come from? What is the composition of the cohort?

Candidates from India, Nepal and Bangladesh are requested to apply. The 20 selected fellows will be gender-balanced representing gender-diversity.

What does RuFu Fellowship looks for in a fellow?
  1. An ideal Fellow should be asipring, both practically and intellectually, towards environmental sustainability.
  2. Highly motivated fellows who are ready for working in the field, in remote rural areas, and connecting with communities and social construction of landscapes
  3. An interest in community-led conservation and management.
What do the Fellows exactly work on when on the field?

The fellowship desires rewilding and revegetation. To achieve this, while in the field, the role of fellows would be to to engage in community interaction, mobilisation of resources, building understanding of ground reality,challenges and linkages between nature and economy. In the process of their work they are expected to create a socio-ecological and economical impact.

How will the Fellows benefit from the Fellowship Program?

RuFu fellowship will equip fellows with leadership qualities along with training them on restoration of land through the approach of agro-forestry. They will learn the qualities required for making impactful strategies for working with land, environment and conservation, and understand social interdependency and collaborative learning. They will be trained as social entrepreneurs in the domain of conservation and management. Fellows will be working with diverse stakeholders, from local governments / civil service to community-based organizations, interacting with communities to understand their culture and traditional methods of conservation. In this process they will build an understanding of the Eastern Himalayan landscape which will help them in securing grants of rewilding in the last semester of their course. During the programme they will learn key skills from subject matter experts and be mentored in the practicalities of conservation and restoration work on the ground by the Balipara Foundation's team of scientists and land restoration and community leaders.

When was the Fellowship Launched?

The fellowship was launched in December,2022 in Dhaka, Bangladesh

What are the eligibility criterias to apply for the Fellowship Program?

Anybody who has successfully completed 12 years of schooling and is aged between 21-35 can apply.

Why is the Fellowship Program for 18 months and not 1 year or 2 years?

The RuFu Fellowship curriculum is designed around one seasonal land restoration cycle, with the Fellows' journey for 12 months following the journey of a rewilding programme from end-to end: from land identification to stakeholder liaison & rapport building to rewilding and agroforestry on the ground. After the 1 year journey immersed on the ground, in the field, 6 months are spent on learning the ins and outs of managing and designing your own sustainable business/organisation and implementing learnings through an entrepreneurial model.

RuFu Fellowship is the part of which Parent Organization?

Balipara Foundation