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Fulbrighters become leaders in their fields

9 April 2020 at 7:00 am
New research into the impact of the Fulbright Scholarships for not-for-profit leaders in Australia reveals returned scholars do remarkable things.

Contributor | 9 April 2020 at 7:00 am


Fulbrighters become leaders in their fields
9 April 2020 at 7:00 am

New research into the impact of the Fulbright Scholarships for not-for-profit leaders in Australia reveals returned scholars do remarkable things.

Adam Davids, a proud Indigenous man, has just returned from a Fulbright Scholarship in the USA brimming with ideas on how to improve outcomes for Indigenous young people.

Adam is director of learning at CareerTrackers, which is successfully tackling the 60 per cent drop-out rate for Indigenous university students.

“I have benefitted personally and professionally from the experience,” Adam says. 

“I’ve been gifted insights into more than 100 years of impact driven by not for profits for minority people in the USA that have strong parallels to more recently established programs that serve Indigenous Australians.

“I was welcomed by exceptional leaders within the Native American and African American community who reinforced my understanding of the key long-term investments needed to empower racial minority young people.”

Adam is one of 10 scholars who are unique in the international Fulbright alumni. They were recipients of the only Fulbright Scholarship in the world specifically for leaders of NGOs and not for profits. 

The scholarships were a joint initiative of the Australian Scholarships Foundation, Origin Energy Foundation, and the Fulbright Commission in Australia.

And the three have collaborated again in commissioning research into the impact of the Fulbright Scholarships for not-for-profit leaders in Australia.

The research found that there were three benefits for the individuals:

  • increased access to opportunities;
  • strengthened leadership qualities; and
  • a unique set of knowledge.

The individual scholars were able to leverage these benefits into opportunities for their organisations and the sector in three ways:

  • pursuing new initiatives and bringing them to life;
  • upskilling and influencing those around them; and 
  • bringing more funding to the sector.

Sean Barrett is the head of the Origin Energy Foundation, which was the inaugural funder of the Fulbright Scholarships and funded the research. He said it was notoriously difficult to measure and evaluate the value and impact of scholarships.

“So I regard this work as ground breaking,” he said.

“A key focus for the Origin Energy Foundation is assisting the NFP sector to improve its capacity through training and development. We have put more than $1 million into training and development opportunities so it is important that we can be reassured it is money well spent.”

Sam Sayers, chief executive officer of the Australian Scholarship Foundation, said: “The research with returned scholars showed they came back to do remarkable things. We hope that this research will convince other funders that there are tangible benefits to supporting the Fulbright Scholarships for not-for-profit leaders in Australia. Origin Energy Foundation pioneered the funding which has been taken up by Perpetual, but there are other opportunities.”

Tom Dougherty, executive director of the Australian-American Fulbright Commission, welcomed the research as further proof of the value of Fulbright Scholarships. 

“Fulbrighters become leaders in their fields. Now we can see that Fulbrighters from the NFP field will similarly make substantial contributions to Australian society,” he said.

Scholarship applications are now open for the next round of Fulbright Scholarships and will close on 6 July 2020. 

For more information and to apply, visit

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