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2016 Evaluation of Rockwood’s Cohort-Based Programs

In 2016, Rockwood Leadership Institute engaged Learning for Action (LFA) to conduct an independent evaluation of Rockwood’s cohort-based fellowships, including contributions to individual and movement-level outcomes.

Through a survey and sets of interviews, LFA gathered information from 122 Rockwood fellowship alums. Based on these data, LFA produced the following summaries and reports.

Summary of Findings across Three Evaluation Reports

LFA found that by participating in a Rockwood fellowship, fellows build the skills, knowledge, and practices to strengthen their leadership and make deep connections with other leaders. In turn, Rockwood fellows are able to develop shared visions and create alliances within and across issue areas, resulting in stronger social change movements.


Results from a Survey of 103 Rockwood Fellowship Alums

The survey results indicate that investment in cohort-based leadership programs results in more effective leaders, and, in turn, more effective movements. Based on responses from survey participants, four key successes of Rockwood’s fellowships are: Confidence + Clarity, Leadership Sustainability, Co-Powering, and Shared Vision + Alliance Building.

Full Report

The Impact of Rockwood’s Fellowships: an In-Depth View from 15 Leaders Across U.S. Movements

“The willingness to engage and start from common purpose and then work out from there to address difference has been a transformational way of doing the work that has opened up possibilities that would never have been there before.”

Full Report

How the Fellowship for a New California Contributed to the Passage of the California Driver License Law

Investing in leadership development through cohort-based fellowships can and does contribute to movement-level wins. Rockwood’s tools are a blend of movement-agnostic frameworks. By bringing leaders together to learn and apply those tools in a issue-focused space, Rockwood creates a unique opportunity for movement leaders to come together around a shared vision.

Full Report

When the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act, environmental groups, unions, women’s groups, and youth organizing groups all joined the NAACP and traditional civil rights groups to message about how bad that was, and to advocate for funder support to address it. I had not seen that depth of cross-sector embracing of a civil rights issue [before Rockwood.]

Anita Earls2010-11 Leading from the Inside Out Yearlong Alum

To be honest, I can’t imagine myself as the leader I am today without Rockwood. Pulling the threads of Rockwood out of me would be difficult because it has been so transformative... This is in part about the skills I developed, but it is also about the level of professional resiliency that I gained...that has been really important in my work, and in my life.

Masen Davis2008 Fellowship for LGBTQ Advocacy Alum & 2012-13 Leading from the Inside Out Yearlong Alum

Knowing that I am not alone, both as a young woman and a person of color, but also just as an Executive Director [is helpful.] I talk to other Executive Directors about how this job can be so isolating. ... Having peers to learn and grow with is impactful.

Zahra Billoo2014 Fellowship for a New California Alum

The authenticity that Rockwood cultivates from day one is extraordinary, and there is nothing else like it. The relationships allow you to move at the speed of trust.

Heather McGhee2013-14 Leading from the Inside Out Yearlong Alum

It was humbling and enabling as a DIY artist with a fledgling youth program to be sitting next to an executive director of a large organization. It made me realize that there was not the distance that I thought there would be.

Logan Phillips2012 Fellowship for Leaders in Arts and Culture Alum


Rockwood and LFA would like to thank the Rockwood alums who took time to share about their Rockwood experiences. We would also like to thank Rockwood staff, trainers, and board members for their partnership, time, and feedback.

Finally, we extend a special thanks to The California Endowment, The California Wellness Foundation, the Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, and Open Society Foundations for making this evaluation possible.

Rockwood Community Call

Cecily Rose Engelhart

Life Coach and Speaker

July 25 | 12 PT / 3 ET