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Activating transformational local leadership.


Mountaintop is an international 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 the most promising local leaders to stay in or return to their home communities and contribute to systems change in lower-income places around the world. Mountaintop’s Fellows receive a full-time stipend, two week leadership institute hosted at Harvard University's Edmond & Lily Safra Center for Ethics, 1:1 mentorship, grants, and a lifelong community of inspiring peers to accelerate their local leadership journeys and prepare them for large-scale impact to transform their communities and countries.


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 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.

The Founder

Mountain Landscape

Mountaintop Network

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 transformational local 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.

Kerux Academic Institute (KAI) (Nigeria). Mountaintop CEO Reed Shafer-Ray was the keynote speaker (virtually) at a KAI Leadership Seminar attended by hundreds of secondary school students in Nigeria. Mountaintop spoke about the power of youth leadership and human infrastructure development. KAI provides high level mentorship for youths and teenagers in areas of education, business, youth empowerment and the development of modern digital and technical skills. After the event, KAI reported that a philanthropist was inspired by the seminar to donate $2,500 worth of property, which will be used to build a school.

Mtuli Foundation (Malawi). Mountaintop plans to speak at a virtual training on climate leadership during a high school leadership training. The Mtuli Foundation focuses on smart irrigation agriculture, sustainable ECD community services, health, climate change, and youth empowerment.

Project Impact (Zimbabwe). Mountaintop provides informal advising and connects the CEO to resources to further the development of Project Impact's initiatives. Project Impact seeks to impart life skills onto the youth of Zimbabwe through art for social change


Mountaintop Advisory Council

Experts in leadership development, international affairs, and community development spanning the fields of public service, entrepreneurship, academia, venture capital, and ministry. Council members have formally agreed to serve as advisors and 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

Prachi Mishra - Founder, Project Nilay

Fadumolucky Jama - Fellow Alumna, Lead For America

Rutendo Mugwara - Speaker, UN Human Rights Council

James Offuh - Human Rights Activist, 2018 Euphrates Visionary of the Year

Dr. Yohanis Riek - Doctor and Social Entrepreneur, 2022 Ted Fellow

Nidhi Pant - Social Entrepreneur, 2023 Earthshot Prize Winner

Mont Blanc


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 or the relationship is public.

Orrick Law: January-December 2023, In-Kind Legal Services, $23,851.50

Consultant: January-December 2023, In-Kind Advising, $10,000

Blackline Solutions: January-December 2023, In-Kind Bookkeeping, $2,222.75

Google Ad Grants: January-December 2023, In-Kind Advertising, $13,800

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

Individual Donor: July 2023, $10,000

Individual Donor: June 2023, $1,000

Harvard Edmond & Lily Safra Center For Ethics: June 2023, In-Kind Training Space, ~$15,000

Individual Donor: May 2023, $100,000

Lawyer: January 2023, In-Kind Legal Services, $2,070

Individual Donor: January 2023, $1,000

Interfaith America: November 2022, $2,500

Centre for Effective Altruism: October 2022, $42,000

Due to a lack of investment in local leaders, 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 "human 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


Our Values

A key part of the solution to addressing global challenges lies in strengthening our collective morality. Mountaintop strives to promote our values by working to embody them in everything we do.

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.

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