Acumen FAQs

A) ABOUT THE ACUMEN FELLOWS PROGRAMME

  1. What is the structure of the Fellows Programme?
    Fellows remain in their jobs and come together for five seminars, each lasting 6 days, throughout the year. Attendance at each seminar is mandatory. Between seminars, Fellows are expected to participate in and complete online readings and assignments. During the entire programme, Fellows will be exposed to the programme’s core curriculum:

    • Adaptive Leadership - Based off the work of Harvard Professor Ron Heifitz, Adaptive Leadership is a practical leadership framework that helps individuals and organizations adapt and thrive in challenging environments. The content supports Fellows’ ability, both individually and collectively, to catalyze and embrace the gradual and meaningful process of change.
    • Authentic Voice - Building off the work of Marshall Ganz, Fellows develop their capacity to articulate their story of self, us and now. Fellows are equipped to articulate a hopeful vision, speak across lines of difference, and move others to action.
    • Good Society Readings - The Good Society Readings explore the meaning of a just society and the moral and historical foundation of social change through a series of curated readings of great thinkers such as Plato, Amartya Sen and Nelson Mandela. Fellows reflect on core human values, seek common ground and cultivate a richer understanding of their social change work in a broader historical context.
    • Managing Polarities - Fellows are taught decision-making methodologies that empower them to embrace competing goals and navigate the tensions between them. In an increasingly interconnected world, the ability to navigate ambiguity and cross lines of difference is critical.
    • Systems Thinking - Fellows explore the concept of Systems Thinking through frameworks and on the ground application by working collaboratively on live challenges. Fellows are provided with frameworks to better understand larger, systemic problems and design more effective interventions.
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  3. How is this fellowship different from all other fellowships?
    The Acumen Fellows Programme is a one-year leadership development program designed to connect and cultivate a pipeline of social changemakers who are committed to tackling poverty and injustice in their communities. Our Fellows Programme features:

    • Cohort Based Seminars - Our Fellows Programme centers around bringing diverse local leaders together over five seminars designed to improve each individuals’ capacity to drive social change, while remaining in their full-time jobs
    • Self Reflection - We provide the space and security for Fellows to practice self-reflection, broaden their perspectives and identify areas for personal development.
    • Virtual Content - Our unique virtual content enables Fellows to connect with peers and continue developing the skills to make lasting social impact between seminars.
    • Focus on Real World Applicability - We design content that is focused on being relevant and applicable to Fellows’ everyday lives and social impact work.
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  5. What would I gain from the Fellows Programme?
    The foundational design element of the Acumen Fellows Programme is the cohort experience. While we introduce many powerful leadership tools, frameworks, mindsets and approaches in our Fellows programmes – anchored around Authentic Voice, Adaptive Leadership, Good Society readings, Managing Polarities and Systems Thinking – we know that the impact that we can have in 30 days of time together is necessarily bounded. The real learning happens outside of the room, between the time Fellows are together in session over the course of a year and, most importantly, in the long years after they first come together, as they continue to grow as leaders as they do their work. To learn more about the benefits of the Fellowship experience, click here and here.
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  7. Is this the same as the Acumen that does impact investment?
    It is related. The Acumen brand is known for its impact investment and leadership development verticals. The Acumen Academy based in the United States is the leadership development vertical where Acumen Academy Malaysia is an affiliate programme.

B) CANDIDATE QUALIFICATIONS AND EXPECTATIONS

  1. I am not an entrepreneur, can I be an Acumen Fellow?
    Yes. Fellows go on various career paths and personal journeys over their lives, but many of the Fellows we’ve seen over the years include:

    • Entrepreneurs who have founded or are leading a for-profit or nonprofit organization that provides critical goods and services to the underserved.
    • Intrapreneurs who are creating innovative solutions to tackle poverty or injustice from within existing institutions by shifting institutional culture and building new collaborations.
    • Organizational builders who are supporting the growth of poverty or injustice-focused institution from within, but not as the founder or CEO.
    • Community builders/activist who are bringing people together and/or campaigning for social change.
    • Public sector champions who are creating innovative solutions that are solving social issues from the policy level or encouraging systemic change within the public sector.

    We are looking for an entrepreneurial attitude, mindset, and approach – people who don’t accept the status quo.

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  3. Do I have to quit my job to become a Fellow?
    Fellows remain in their jobs and come together for five seminars, each lasting 6 days, throughout the year. Attendance at each seminar is mandatory. Between seminars, Fellows are expected to participate in and complete online readings and assignments.
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  5. How do I commit 30 days in a year?
    Whenever possible we schedule seminars to run from Tuesday to Sunday, and we will attempt to leverage on holidays. Between seminars, you will be expected to spend additional time on program-related assignments, email correspondence and collaborative projects for approximately 3 hours per week.
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  7. Is there an age restriction to join the Fellows Programme?
    No. There is no age restriction to join the Fellows Programme.
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  9. I am a refugee/stateless person. Can I apply for the Acumen Fellows Programme?
    Yes, we accept applications from refugee/stateless individuals. However, do note that the Acumen Fellows Programme is designed for individuals who are currently leading or are an integral part of building an initiative whose mission is to eradicate poverty or injustice for local communities. Our Fellows are of all ages, come from diverse cultural, geographic and socioeconomic backgrounds and work across multiple sectors. The top 20 who makes it, makes it based on best demonstration of
    - investment in local communities for the long term
    - track record/ passion in creating a change
    - ability to commit to the intense Y1
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  11. I have a 2 year visa in Malaysia and am an existing +Acumen course taker. Can I apply?
    Thank you for your interest. The work of Acumen Fellows Programme in its specific region is about empowering local grassroots communities to be the seeds of change. Malaysia is in great need to empower its locals with the right skill sets and tools and for that, our fellowship is only open to Malaysians and permanent residents (which we mean stateless and refugees). The fellowship has only 20 spots and we need to ensure the best representation of grassroot leaders invested in the long term positive impact here.
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  13. I am a student. Can I apply for the Acumen Fellows Programme?
    Our Fellows are of all ages, come from diverse cultural, geographic and socioeconomic backgrounds and work across multiple sectors. The top 20 who makes it, makes it based on best demonstration of
    - investment in local communities for the long term
    - track record/ passion in creating a change
    - ability to commit to the intense Y1

C) PROGRAMME EXPECTATIONS

  1. What is the total time commitment required for the Fellows Programme?
    The total in-person time commitment is about 30 days (5 seminars, 6 days each) over the course of the year, plus travel time to the seminar locations. Whenever possible we have scheduled seminars to run from Tuesday to Sunday. Between seminars, you will be expected to spend additional time on program-related assignments, email correspondence and collaborative projects for approximately 3 hours per week.
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  3. Do I have to pay to be part of the Fellows Programme?
    The Fellows Programme is a fully sponsored programme. All travel, meals and accommodation for the duration of the seminars will be borne by Acumen Academy Malaysia.
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  5. Do I get a stipend as a Fellow?
    No, Fellows will not get a stipend. However, all travel, meals and accommodation for the duration of the seminars will be borne by Acumen Academy Malaysia.
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  7. Are there funding opportunities in Acumen Academy?
    Acumen Academy Malaysia does not provide funding. However, we hope to build an ecosystem of partners that Fellows can tap into for funding opportunities.

D) APPLICATION AND SELECTION PROCESS

  1. What are the application deadlines? And what happens after I submit my application?
    Please see the Applicant Packet available on https://acumen.org/fellowships/apply/ where we outline the dates and times for each stage of the application process.

    Upon application submission, our selection team will carefully review submissions and participation at each stage of the process, and select candidates who will advance to the next stage. At each stage of the application process, all candidates will receive communication from our team about the progress of their application.

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  3. How many Fellows are selected each year?
    Every year, 20 Fellows will be selected.

E) OTHERS

  1. What is Moral Leadership?
    At Acumen Academy Malaysia, we define Moral Leadership through our manifesto:

    • It starts by standing with the poor, listening to voices unheard, and recognizing potential where others see despair.
    • It demands investing as a means, not an end, daring to go where markets have failed and aid has fallen short. It makes capital work for us, not control us.
    • It thrives on moral imagination: the humility to see the world as it is, and the audacity to imagine the world as it could be. It’s having the ambition to learn at the edge, the wisdom to admit failure, and the courage to start again.
    • It requires patience and kindness, resilience and grit: a hard-edged hope. It’s leadership that rejects complacency, breaks through bureaucracy, and challenges corruption. Doing what’s right, not what’s easy.
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  3. Why start Acumen Academy now in Malaysia?
    Quoting Jacqueline Novogratz, Founder of Acumen, "The opposite of poverty is dignity." ...where to have dignity is to live a life of choices that are not suppressed by injustice or the lack of rights. We have a widening income gap in between the T20 and B40/M40, where the effect of urban poverty and a myriad of social issues are evident. To ignore this would mean allowing larger divides to grow in a society that is meant to hold each other up, not push each other down. We believe that to solve this, we need to cultivate moral leaders with the imagination and skill sets to bridge the divide in between the rich and the poor, the public and private, business and philanthropy, profit and purpose, shareholders and stakeholders. Problems of inequity affect people at a daily basis, and has detrimental effects to the larger society today, tomorrow and in the future. We need a programme that cultivates leaders with a moral imagination now. We know Malaysia is ready because we have seen a rise in individuals partaking in social change in here, be it through social entrepreneurship, non-profit work, corporate social responsibility activities as well as movements, campaigns and film that advance a social message or cause. where the journey in creating social change can often time be a frustrating and isolating path. The Acumen Fellows Programme is designed to help leaders scale their impact by mastering the skills, attributes and values of moral leadership: a combination of empathy, immersion, understanding and action.
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  5. What is the relationship between YTL Foundation and Acumen Fellows Malaysia?
    Acumen Fellows Programme Malaysia is currently fully sponsored and incubated by YTL Foundation.
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  7. I don’t want to be a Fellow but can I attend Acumen workshops and events?
    Yes, please sign up to our mailing list to get updated on our latest workshops and events at http://bit.ly/acumenfellowsmsia