Application Guidelines (FAQs)

General faqs

At Wild Gift, we are committed to supporting young leaders who are creating solutions to today's global challenges. We recognize that real change takes out-of-the -box thinkers capable of blazing new paths. The purpose of our Fellowship is to provide critical support for those choosing the challenging work of social change.

Using wilderness as a springboard, our unique 16-month program provides inspiration, mentoring, seed funding, and a community of support that continues long after the Fellowship year to ignite and accelerate these visions into reality. While the Wild Gift Program is designed to fuel solutions by young social entrepreneurs who are driven by their vision of a better world, our Fellowship is an investment in the individual’s originality, insight, commitment and potential to become a leader of tomorrow.

The Fellowship »
Your Commitment »
Eligibility »
The Winter Alpine Expedition »
Selection Criteria »
Timeline for Applicants and Selection »
Application Process Overview »
Other Tips »


The Fellowship

What is the “Wild Gift” and what will I receive if selected?

If you are selected as a Wild Gift Fellow, you will receive:

1. The Wild Gift: A 20-day winter wilderness immersion experience in Idaho backcountry

2. A $350 allowance for airfare to Idaho

3. A project mentor(s) who will work with you throughout the course of your Fellowship, plus access to a pool of resource mentors to provide specific expertise when needed

4. Seed funding grant up to $10,000 paid out in  quarterly installments

5. Opportunity to participate in a synergy river trip in Idaho at the end of your Fellowship, alumni retreats, and other gatherings provided all grant requirements are satisfied

4. Life time membership in the vibrant Wild Gift Network that includes alumni, mentors and other supporters


Your Commitment

What commitment will I be making as a Fellow?

If you accept the Fellowship, you will be agreeing to the following:

1. Participation in the Idaho Winter Alpine Expedition February 6 - 24, 2015.

2. Meeting all deadlines including revising your social venture plan, meeting with your mentor, quarterly reporting, updating your Wild Gift Fellow profile, etc.

3. Pay It Forward — serve as a mentor, Alumni Council member, and/or donor following your 16-month fellowship. 



I'm not an American or Canadian citizen. May I apply for a Wild Gift Fellowship?

No. While your venture can be located anywhere in the world, you must be an American or Canadian citizen to apply.

Is there an age limit?

Yes, you must be between the ages of 21 and 35 as of February 6, 2015.

Must I have a developed social venture to apply?

In addition to meeting other eligibility requirements, applicants should have plans in place for an early stage social venture that serves the Wild Gift Mission – a self-designed venture that promotes the stewardship of wild nature and/or development of sustainable communities.  (To date, we have supported projects in the areas of  education, sustainable agriculture, affordable housing, energy efficiency and innovation, community development, water, health care, public policy and wildland conservation and stewardship.)

My venture is based outside the US. May I apply for a Wild Gift Fellowship?

Yes, as long as you meet our other eligibility criteria.

My venture is structured as a for-profit organization. May I apply for a Wild Gift Fellowship?

Yes, as long as you meet our other eligibility criteria. Wild Gift seeks applications for innovative entrepreneurs creating high-impact social change, regardless of profit structure.

If I applied for the Wild Gift Fellowship in the past, may I reapply?

Yes. If you applied for a Wild Gift Fellowship in the past, you are welcome to reapply as long as your social venture meets our eligibility criteria.

I am currently a full time student. May I apply for a Wild Gift Fellowship? 

Yes. You may apply for our Fellowship Program while you are a full time student. However you must have completed your studies by the beginning of your Fellowship period. If you are awarded a Wild Gift Fellowship, you are agreeing to make your venture your primary focus for the Fellowship 16 month period of time

I am working towards my doctorate degree. May I apply for a Wild Gift Fellowship to fund a research project in support of my degree requirements?

No. Unfortunately Wild Gift does not provide scholarship money or fund research.

I am working on a book or film  that I believe will have significant social impact. Am I eligible?

Not as a general rule. Wild Gift funds ideas for creating sustainable ventures; we do not fund discrete projects.

I currently have a full time job and have been running my social venture on the side. Am I eligible to apply for a Wild Gift Fellowship?

Yes. If your venture meets all eligibility criteria and you are prepared to make it your primary focus, you may apply. Please note that if you are awarded a Wild Gift Fellowship, you are expected to commit no less than 20 hours per week to your venture.

Do I need to have 501(c)(3) status before I can apply for a fellowship?

No, you do not need to establish 501(c)(3) status or register your organization before you apply.

I have never run a social enterprise before. May I still apply for your program?

Yes. Wild Gift believes in identifying and supporting talented, yet unproven social entrepreneurs.

My organization was founded by several people. Can we all apply for the Wild Gift Fellowship?

No. Only one founder may apply per organization. As a result, please choose one individual to represent your organization to Wild Gift. However, this does not require you to change your internal leadership structure. Even if only one founder can be a Wild Gift Fellow, you can have as many people leading your organization as you see fit.

Do you give preferences to diverse applicants?

Wild Gift embraces diversity and as such, we strive to diversify our Wild Gift Network to ensure broader views and perspectives to today's challenges.  Preference will be given to applicants who come from diverse personal, professional, and cultural backgrounds and experience including, but not limited to, race, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, education level, culture, religion, disability, physical appearance, or any other difference that would allow us a diverse perspective.


The Winter Alpine Expedition

What is the nature of the trek and where will we go?

The Wild Gift base-camp in Sun Valley, Idaho is the gateway to the largest Wilderness and roadless areas in the lower 48 US states. Far from major population centers, this trackless wilderness is especially remote in winter. It is the domain of abundant wildlife and  powder snow, a blank canvas for engagement in one of nature’s most dynamic mediums.

The route follows a gentle progression from rolling sub-alpine terrain to the jagged peaks of the Sawtooths. No prior experience on skis is required. We’ll develop the skills to travel safely, proficiently and joyfully in winter, linking backcountry “huts” in several mountain ranges.

Each Wild Gift group is unique, and we’ll adapt to meet each other’s personal goals in a safe, supportive environment, while challenging ourselves daily in the mountains. The core group will consist of two experienced guides and 4-5 Wild Gift Fellows. Beyond that, we will host some inspiring guests, and discuss a range of topics from leadership to work-life balance to mindfulness and decision-making, while saving plenty of time for unstructured discovery. 

Where will we stay during the trek?

Well equipped huts and yurts will provide warmth, shelter, and a great atmosphere far from the hustle of our daily lives. The huts are warm and comfortable, equipped with wood stoves, solar lights, kitchens, communal space, bunks and outhouses. Please visit for more on the huts and yurts.

Who will guide us?

Wild Gift partners with Sun Valley Trekking, an established outfitter and guide service for over 40 years. SVT is responsible for all the trip logistics and safety. Guides are licensed and certified with extensive avalanche forecasting, rescue training, and years of teaching experience in the outdoors,

What level of physical fitness is required?

All that’s required is a reasonable level of physical fitness and desire to learn and participate in all aspects of expeditionary life.

Do I need special experience to participate in the trek?

No prior experience on skis or backcountry trekking is required.

What equipment will I need?

Wild Gift will provide you with state of the art alpine touring skis and gear that make it all possible.

What will I learn?

The immersion in deep wilderness provides the opportunity for participants to unplug from the distractions of daily life, relate in a new and more intimate way with the wilderness environment and to gain deeper insight into natural resource issues on both a local and global scale. You will receive in-depth experience of the specialized skills of backcountry skiing, winter expedition planning, route finding, terrain selection and management, decision making and winter survival throughout the trek. In addition, there will be plenty of time to work on individual business plans with the benefit of group feedback.


Selection Criteria

We select recruits who not only have a have a break-through idea, but also demonstrate the ability to grow a sustainable enterprise, execute a business plan, and make a significant impact on the problem they are trying to solve. The Selection Committee considers various criteria including:

1.  The Social Venture Itself

  • How innovative is your proposed solution?
  • What challenge does it address?
  • How measurable are the goals?
  • What is the potential social and economic impact of this venture?
  • Is the venture potentially system-changing?

2.  The Applicant

  • What is your background and credentials?
  • Do you have passion and vision around this issue?
  • What is your approach to leadership and collaboration?
  • Do you have the ability to bring the venture to fruition?

3.  The Plan Behind The Idea

  • How realistic is the plan?
  • What’s the timeframe for action?
  • Is the plan sustainable?

4.  The Ripple Effect

  • Will this idea leverage resources from other sources?
  • Will it generate excitement and energy within a broader community?
  • If successful, could it be scaled for even greater impact?

5.  Benefit from Wild Gift Fellowship

  • Will the trek contribute to your growth?
  • Will mentoring contribute to your growth?
  • Will collaboration within the Wild Gift Network contribute to your growth?


What kind of ventures are you looking for?

The Fellowship is intentionally broad and ventures are considered on a case by case basis. We want to generate interest and creative thinking among young visionaries about what can make our world better. Our intention is to give resources to talented innovators with ground breaking ideas. For examples, take a look at the ventures our current fellows are involved in.

May I attach supplemental materials to my application or submit them to your office?

No. Any extraneous materials submitted will be discarded and not reviewed.

Instead of using your format, may I mail you my business plan?

No. We cannot accept or review any other documents (e.g., letters of inquiry, business plans) in lieu of the online application.

When will decisions be made?

We expect to announce the 2015 Fellows in October 2014.

Will Wild Gift share the names and ideas of all the applicants?

We offer the finalists the option to have his/her name and a brief description of his/her venture made public on our Wild website.

Does the Selection Committee provide applicants with individualized feedback?

Unfortunately, due to the volume of applications, the Selection Committee is not able to provide feedback to individual applicants.


Timeline for Applicants and Selection

July 15: Deadline for applications

August 25: 10 Finalists announced

September 19: Finalists submit additional application materials

October 20: New class announced

February 6-24, 2015: Winter Alpine Expedition in Idaho


Application Process Overview

•  Before applying for a Wild Gift Fellowship, go to our website and take a look at what our current fellows are doing. Do your research, consider your timing for applying and in particular whether you are ready to make a commitment to our program requirements and the launch of your venture.

• Your application must be fully completed and uploaded to our website no later than 5 pm MT July 15, 2014.  You will receive an email acknowledgement when we receive the full application. Incomplete or late submissions will not be considered.

• Completed applications will be submitted to our Selection Committee which is made up of Wild Gift board members and alumni. You will be notified if further information is required.

• The Selection Committee typically selects 10 finalists in mid August.  Our Fellowship Coordinator will contact you informing you of our decision and additional application requirements at that time. They include submission of a more detailed Social Venture Plan due in mid September.

•  Finalists will be given an opportunity to post their profile and venture concept on our website during the interview process.

• Interviews are granted by invitation only. The interview plays a central part in our final selection process. Once you contact us accepting an interview, we will arrange a day that is convenient for both parties. Where possible, they will be conducted by Skype or Google Hangout.

• References for finalists will also be interviewed by members of the Selection Committee.

• The Selection Committee will announce the new class of fellows on October 20, 2014.


Other Tips

Proof Read, Review and Revise: Often, you are too close to your application. We recommend that you ask a colleague or partner to review your full application before its submitted.

Give Yourself Ample Time: Given the number of applications, we cannot give extensions for application submissions.

Keep It Simple: Write in plain language for someone who does not know anything about your work or field.

Follow Directions: Be sure to keep within the character count and font requirements and all deadlines.

Do character counts include spaces?

Yes. All short answer questions on the application have a character limit provided after each question. These limits are inclusive of spaces.