Number of Fellows
The number of Fellows has grown each of our first three years. The first year there were roughly 55 Fellows, the second around 60, and the third around 95. These numbers are rounded because some people (around 10% each year) have not completed the program, and others have participated sporadically.
Those that don’t complete the program tend to have had a change in job circumstances, family or health crisis, or some other significant life event that prohibits completion. We tell those that drop off that they’re always welcome to become active again when circumstances allow. This is a “no guilt” and “no shame” program.
We have been delighted that more people are participating each year, but don’t measure the success of the program based on increasing the number of people each year.
Rather, we’re focused on improving program quality, including providing opportunities for new types of educators from a wider region to participate and finding new ways to support Fellows after their first year involved in the program. We expect the number of new Fellows to fluctuate year-by-year.
It has been very helpful to have multiple cohorts that each meet at a different time. This allows us to accommodate the varying and ever-changing schedules of the Fellows. If we had not been able to provide several meeting time options, our rate of attrition would have been much higher.
Also, having multiple group(s) also allows our facilitator(s) to make modifications and improvements between cohort meetings, and to experiment with new activities.
Finally, having a larger group increases the number of possibly synergies among the Fellows, and the overall amount of experience and wisdom available.
So far for us, it’s been the more the merrier.
For these reasons, we recommend recruiting enough Fellows to fill at least three cohorts (between 24 and 30 people) when you start the program.
If you can recruit more, all the better. This will provide a reasonable amount of scheduling flexibility, give the facilitator(s) practice with several groups, and create ample opportunities for shared work and learning.
Katherine Freimund, Executive Director of the Whatcom Literacy Council, used her Fellows experience to build a system for WWU students to serve local non-profit boards, in partnership with the WWU Institute for Leadership.
"I think this program allows for a level of engagement that creates friendships and gives participants a real appreciation for each others' learning styles and what they are passionate about."