Activating transformational local leadership.
Mountaintop is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that works toward a future where every community can solve its own problems in order to build a just, loving, and peaceful world for all. In the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose "Mountaintop" speech called for a locally led movement to stir our global consciousness, Mountaintop cultivates transformational local leadership and strengthens communities in places worldwide where success too often means leaving and not coming back.
Mountaintop’s flagship program is a paid, one-year, full-time fellowship for exceptional emerging leaders to stay in or return to their home communities and contribute to systems change in lower-income places around the world. Mountaintop matches Fellows with locally led NGOs, social ventures, and government agencies to lead high-impact projects, strengthens the capacity of Fellow hosts, and amplifies Fellows’ potential through mentorship, grants, a lifelong community of inspiring peers, and a two week leadership institute hosted at Harvard University's Edmond & Lily Safra Center for Ethics.
Alongside regional partners, 10,000+ Fellows have served 1,000+ communities, directly touching the lives of 10,000,000+ people. Driven $5b+ in funding from governments, corporations, and philanthropy into projects strengthening transformational local leadership. Learning from peer NGOs like Ashoka, Teach For All, International Youth Foundation, and Apolitical, Mountaintop plans to scale by seeding independent regional initiatives in countries across the world, supported by an umbrella convening entity.
The fellowship will be a flywheel to launch complementary interventions, including fellowships, education and training programs, policy advocacy, field building, media campaigns, and academic research to promote transformational local leadership worldwide.
Board of Directors
Recruitment partners are organizations that are committed to supporting the Mountaintop outreach process within their networks to ensure a rich diversity of outstanding Fellows and hosts.
Mountaintop Leaders Council
An advisory board made up of inspiring moral leaders from across the fields of government, philanthropy, nonprofits, activism, and entrepreneurship. Members of the Leaders Council commit to serving on Fellow selection panels, mentoring Fellows, and regularly providing the Mountaintop executive team with strategic advice.
The Mountaintop Network is a global community of place-based leadership programs that invest in the strength of their local communities to solve their own problems. The Mountaintop Network provides member organizations a peer community that shares resources, best practices, mentorship, opportunities for partnership and funding, and impact data to accelerate the place-based leadership movement and build a just, loving, and peaceful world for all.
Rohi Foundation (Bamenda, Cameroon). Mountaintop is a "Founding Partner" of the Rohi Foundation's MLK Peace University, providing catalytic funding to launch a university that will support peace-building and bring jobs to war-torn northwest Cameroon.
United for Peace Against Conflict International (Cote D'Ivoire) Mountaintop is a "Founding Partner" of UFPACI's Social Dialogue Academy, providing catalytic funding to launch a hybrid-learning school for future locally rooted leaders.
BochumUnity (Bochum, Germany). Mountaintop is mentoring a team of local entrepreneurs in starting a place-based leadership and workforce development initiative.
Seed4Africa (Africa). Mountaintop is connecting Seed4Africa leaders to other NGOs in the leadership development space, and collaborating on youth empowerment curriculum.
Youth Priority Foundation (Nigeria). Mountaintop is advising Youth Priority Foundation on its mentorship initiative, connecting the team to new mentors, and partnering to integrate a leadership development curriculum into their work.
Voice of Women-SL (Sierra Leone). Mountaintop is advising Voice of Women-SL's leadership development curriculum and connecting their team with other organizations in the African leadership development space.
1 Day Sooner Africa (Africa). Mountaintop is collaborating with 1 Day Sooner Africa on advocacy efforts that will mitigate Brain Drain to improve public health and pandemic prevention efforts across the African continent. The first collaboration is a joint workshop that will be held at the Mandela Washington Fellowship's annual summit in 2023.
African Youth Action Network (South Sudan and Uganda). Mountaintop is providing curriculum and advising to the African Youth Action Network team as they work to deepen and scale their leadership and empowerment programs for refugee communities, Internally Displaced Persons, and youth in Uganda and South Sudan.
Mountaintop Advisory Council
Experts in leadership development, international affairs, and community empowerment spanning the fields of public service, entrepreneurship, academia, venture capital, and ministry. Mountaintop Advisory Council members provide regular input on the vision and strategy of the organization.
John Cape - Chief Program Officer, Global Health Corps
Michael Brown - Founder and Former CEO, City Year
Jennifer Hazelton - Former Head of Public Affairs, US State Department
Seth Kaplan - Faculty, Johns Hopkins Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies
Shimul Melwani - Associate Dean, University of North Carolina Business School
Dan Mindus - Founder and Managing Partner, NextGen Venture Partners
James Weinberg - Founder and CEO, FUSE Corps
Andy Weber - Former US Assistant Secretary of Defense
Loden Nyima - Ordained Buddhist Monk and Resident Teacher, Drala Mountain Center
Fagan Harris - Chief of Staff, Governor Wes Moore
Rob Watson - Director for Partnerships and Community Impact at the EdRedesign Lab, Harvard Graduate School of Education
Yascha Mounk - Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations
Neil Thanedar - Founder and Chairman, Labdoor
Joe Nail - Co-Founder and CEO, Lead For America
Sid Efromovich - Co-Founder, Generation Pledge
Mack McCarter - Founder and Coordinator, Community Renewal International
Dana Karout - Adaptive Leadership Coach, Harvard Kennedy School
Andrew Powell - Co-Founder and CEO, Learn to Win
Sabrina Quaraishi - Director, Bankers without Borders, Grameen Foundation
Rob Garris - Executive Director, Trinity Leadership Fellows
Youth Members of the Advisory Council (providing input on fellowship experience and curriculum)
Prachi Mishra - Founder, Project Nilay (Odisha, India)
Fadumolucky Jama - Fellow, Lead For America (Hibbing, USA)
Rutendo Mugwara - Speaker, UN Human Rights Council (Cape Town, South Africa)
None of our work would be possible without the exceptional generosity of our donors, and the trust and partnership of our Fellow hosts who pay fees equal to the stipends of their Fellows. In the name of transparency, Mountaintop provides a regularly updated list of the sources of all of its confirmed revenues of $1,000 or above. Due to privacy considerations, we only publish names of our partners if given explicit permission.
Centre for Effective Altruism: October 2022, $42,000
Interfaith America: November 2022, $2,500
Individual Donor: January 2023, $1,000
Individual Donor: May 2023, $100,000
Harvard Edmond & Lily Safra Center For Ethics: June 2023, In-Kind Training Space, ~$15,000
Individual Donor: June 2023, $1,000
Individual Donor: July 2023, $10,000
Individual Donor: August 2023, $15,000
Host: August 2023, $27,000
Host: August 2023, $1,224
Host: August 2023, $6,392
Host: August 2023, In-Kind Stipend, ~$12,228
Due to a lack of investment in local people, communities worldwide are not able to adapt to solve their own challenges. Mountaintop proposes the "Community Flourishing Model" to turn the tables.
The Community Flourishing Model proposes that, for a community to reach its fullest potential, a community should invest in strengthening the "people infrastructure" of their community: right abilities, right mindsets, right relationships, right activities, right places, and right power.
To this end, Mountaintop cultivates transformational local leadership that promotes community flourishing through fellowships, education and training programs, policy advocacy, field building, media campaigns, and academic research.
Mountaintop is a proud member of the People First Community, which is a community of exceptional organizations prioritizing collective leadership as a path for sustainable development.
For more on Mountaintop's Theory of Change, see here.
Theory of Change
The fundamental solution to global challenges lies not in greater knowledge, money, technology, or even talent, but rather in strengthening our collective morality.
Mountaintop is in the process of receiving input from faith leaders from all major religions, as well as secular philosophers and moral leaders, to craft a statement that, while acknowledging and respecting our differences across cultures, calls for the promotion of specific values to address our planet's crisis of conscience. Once completed, this statement will inform and improve upon Mountaintop's articulation of its five values.
Universal Compassion: Empathizing with the suffering of others, regardless of who they are. Example: Thich Nhat Hanh.
Unconditional Love: Loving others unconditionally, even those we deeply disagree with. Example: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Visionary Wisdom: Making imaginative, effective, evidence-based, and historically informed decisions and striving to understand diverse perspectives. Example: Norman Bourlaug.
Long-Term Dedication: Committing over the course of a career or lifetime to a particular community or cause. Example: Aminatou Haidar.
Selfless Courage: Acting for the greater good even in the face of uncertainty, complacency, inconvenience, risk, or danger. Example: Berta Cáceres.