The Institute

Our research-based 5-day Institute is informative, transformative, and highly rated for its value—an average of 9.3/10. But StartingBloc isn’t the 5-day Institute.

The true magic of StartingBloc is the lifelong Fellowship after the Institute. A community of 2800 change leaders. Like most magic, StartingBloc is hard to explain. But it’s like fire in your bones when you know it.

As the launching event for the Fellowship, you get a sip of that magic and the ground to start engaging at the 5-day Institute. It’s a 9.3/10 sip.

The paradigm around what makes a good leader is shifting. Founded in 2003, StartingBloc has always delivered programming that is emergent. In 2003, we were focused on social entrepreneurship. In 2010, social impact. Now, we’re focused on convening, growing and supporting leaders to step into a collaborative, authentic, distributed workforce. Within our 5-day Institute, we deliver analytical frameworks, skillsets, and models for mindset transformation.

We strongly believe that powerful leadership development focuses both on competence and leadership maturity. At the Institute, you will do the the messy work of showing up authentically in community AND you will walk away with hard skills. It’s the combination that makes our programming strong and impactful over a lifetime.

Day 1: Off the Bloc

Fellows begin the Institute with an Intention-setting exercise. Next, an accomplished leader shares their personal journey and a call to ground our work in the context of community. The day ends with a three hour workshop delivered by the Transformative Action Institute. Using TAI’s extensively researched methods, Fellows learn to integrate the principles of Transformative Action, Deep Connections, and Creativity into their work to build a foundation for impact.

Upcoming Institutes

Los Angeles
February 22-26
10 spots left – Apply today

New Orleans
May 17-21
Priority* Application Deadline
March 22

Raleigh-Durham
June 21-25
Priority* Application Deadline
April 5

New York
August 16-20
Scholarship Application Deadline
April 19

Washington DC
October 25-29
Scholarship Application Deadline
June 28

*Applying by the Priority Deadline gives you access to our preferred lodging and childcare lists, as well as greater access to pre-Institute conversations with other accepted Fellows. 

Apply Now

Day 2: Owning Your Vision

Polarity Management (a framework for working within paradox) is introduced this morning. Fellows learn to manage paradoxical values, engage in difficult conversations, and develop appreciation for coworkers’ strengths. The rest of the day is focused on iterating, crafting, and delivering a 60-second vision statement. We close with a leader sharing their vision and story.

Day 3: Taking Action

We introduce the process of Human Centered Design, specifically components of empathy, synthesis and ideation. Local organizations and companies bring their real challenges and opportunities to the Institute for this day of action. Each organization is paired with a team of Fellows and within 3 hours develop an average of 10 different solutions to the challenge or opportunity. Fellows leave with experience and understanding of the Human Centered Design Process.

Day 4: Pass the Mic

The first half of this day is focused on applying an inclusion lens to the work that our Fellows are seeking to accomplish in the world. This process includes mapping, integrating, and debriefing around the topic of identity and its powerful role in our shared lives. Holding that knowledge, we begin applying the lens of inclusion to processes that show up in our everyday work. Those processes include Change Management, Team Cohesion, and Community Care, among others. We open the afternoon to Fellows for an “un-conference,” where Fellows are able to lead 45 minute workshops of their own design.

Day 5: The Road Ahead

We utilize the Transformative Action Institute’s curriculum around cultivating luck to kick off a morning of engagement with the cohort. Here, Fellows learn how to reach their objectives more effectively by making specific asks and offering gives to small groups. The day ends with pathways for engaging with the StartingBloc Fellowship post-Institute. We close the Institute with a systems-focused speaker.


Past Speakers

Meet some of the speakers and mentors from past StartingBloc Institutes.
Laurin Hodge

Laurin Hodge

Executive Director + Co-Founder, Mission : Launch

Laurin Hodge often says she did not pick prison; prison picked her. It was the unexpected incarceration of her mother for a first-time, nonviolent, white-collar indictment, which motivated her to craft a social entrepreneurial career. As the Executive Director, Laurin oversees the day-to-day development of the organization and serves as the vision keeper for shifting policies, programs, practices and ultimately the allocation of resources. Through Mission: Launch Laurin envisions the elimination of the social stigma returning citizens face upon release from prison or jail. The lasting harm caused by our criminal justice system requires a robust approach to change. By way of an innovative workforce development strategy Mission: Launch seeks to simplify the path from incarceration to stability and ultimately self-sufficiency by addressing occupational licensing barriers for DC-Baltimore residents.

Seth Godin

Seth Godin

Best Selling Author

Seth Godin is the author of 18 books that have been bestsellers around the world and have been translated into more than 35 languages. He writes about the post-industrial revolution, the way ideas spread, marketing, quitting, leadership and most of all, changing everything. You might be familiar with his books Linchpin, Tribes, The Dip and Purple Cow. In addition to his writing and speaking, Seth has founded several companies, including Yoyodyne and Squidoo. His blog (which you can find by typing “seth” into Google) is one of the most popular in the world. He founded the altMBA workshop, an intensive 30-day experience that has more than 1,000 graduates in 30 countries. His latest book, What To Do When It’s Your Turn is now in its fifth printing. You can find it at yourturn.link. Photo by Brian Bloom.

Krista Tippett

Krista Tippett

Host/Executive Producer On Being. President, Krista Tippett Public Productions

Krista Tippett is a Peabody Award-winning broadcaster and New York Times bestselling author. She created and hosts the public radio program and podcast On Being and curates the Civil Conversations Project., an emergent approach to the differences of our age She received the 2013 National Humanities Medal at the White House for “thoughtfully delving into the mysteries of human existence. On the air and in print, Ms. Tippett avoids easy answers, embracing complexity and inviting people of every background to join her conversation about faith, ethics, and moral wisdom.

Kierra Johnson

Kierra Johnson

Executive Director, URGE: Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity

Kierra Johnson heads the leading pro-choice organization working to mobilize and provide ongoing support for the diverse, upcoming generation of leaders who promote and protect reproductive choice both now and in the future. With 17 years of experience in the field, Kierra is a leader in the reproductive justice and progressive movements. She has lifted up the value of regional and cross-movement collaborations to foster youth leadership development that will strengthen the pro-choice progressive base in crucial communities in the United States. She serves on the Groundswell Fund’s Board of Directors and on the National LGBTQ Taskforce National Action Committee.

Michelina Ferrara

Michelina Ferrara

Deputy Director, Atlas : DIY

Michelina Ferrara is a fierce and fiery advocate for social change. Her experience as an organizer, youth worker and activist connects issues ranging from youth incarceration to immigrant justice to reproductive justice to creating safe spaces for youth—building an intersectional framework that transforms our communities. She lives, loves, and shouts from Brooklyn where she can be found rocking high top sneakers & big earrings, and chanting Assata Shakur: It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love and protect each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains!

Robert Egger

Robert Egger

Founder, DC Central Kitchen & LA Kitchen

Robert is the Founder and President of L.A. Kitchen, which recovers locally sourced, cosmetically imperfect fruits and vegetables to fuel a culinary arts job training program for men and women coming out of foster care and older men and women returning from incarceration. Robert pioneered this model during his 24-year tenure as the president of the DC Central Kitchen, the country’s first “community kitchen”. Since opening in 1989, the kitchen (which is an $12-million-a-year, self-sustaining social enterprise) has produced over 35 million meals and helped 1,500 men and women gain full-time employment. He was the recipient of the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington’s 2007 “Lifetime Achievement” award and the 2004 James Beard Foundation 'Humanitarian of the Year' award.

Gayle Karen Young

Gayle Karen Young

Former Chief Talent & Culture Officer, Wikimedia Foundation

Gayle Karen Young is a culture-builder and a catalyst for human and organizational development. She comes from a rich organizational consulting background with both corporate and nonprofit clients. She was in process of becoming a monk when she became an executive instead, taking on the role of Chief Culture and Talent Officer at the Wikimedia Foundation (Wikipedia and its sister free-knowledge projects) until early 2015, when she decided to return to private practice as a rogue provocateur. Born in the Philippines to Chinese parents and raised in the United States, she has a multicultural perspective, an adventurous spirit, and a deep commitment to expanding human freedom.

Majora Carter

Majora Carter

CEO of Startup Box

Majora Carter is an urban revitalization strategy consultant, real estate developer, and Peabody Award winning broadcaster. She is responsible for the creation & successful implementation of numerous green-infrastructure projects, policies, and job training & placement systems. After establishing Sustainable South Bronx and Green For All (among other organizations) to carry on that work, she built on this foundation with innovative ventures and insights into urban economic developments designed to help move Americans out of poverty.

Meghan French Dunbar

Meghan French Dunbar

Co-Founder, Conscious Company Media

Meghan French Dunbar is Co-Founder of Conscious Company Media, which is the first multimedia organization in the country that specifically focuses on purpose-driven business. The company’s flagship product — Conscious Company Magazine — was the first print and digital, nationally distributed publication in the United States to focus solely on sustainable and conscious business. After its launch in January 2015, the magazine was quickly picked up by Whole Foods Market, Target, HEB, Barnes and Noble, Kroger, and more.

Scott Sherman

Scott Sherman

Executive Director, Transformative Action Institute

Scott is an expert on the most effective ways that citizens succeed in creating social progress and innovation. His work on nonviolent social change has been praised by the Dalai Lama and Mother Teresa. He is currently writing a book called, 'How We Win: The Science of Making the World a Better Place'. He is currently the Senior Director of Social Innovation at Claremont McKenna College.

Susie Lee

Susie Lee

CEO, Siren

Susie Lee is the CEO and co-founder of Siren, a dating app that unlocks real personality for first time-conversations. A graduate of Yale, Columbia and UW with degrees in molecular biophysics and biochemistry, science education, and art, Lee brings her skills as a social sculptor to amplify humanity in technology. Her work has been collected by numerous institutions including the Denver Art Museum, Mitchell Center for the Arts, Frye Art Museum, and Crystal Bridges Museum of Art. Siren partnered with Durex on a 37million view campaign and has been featured on NPR, The Guardian, CNN, The Stranger, GeekWire, ThinkProgress, Frieze, and The Establishment.

Nick Fellers

Nick Fellers

President, For Impact | The Suddes Group

Nick is co-founder of For Impact and president of The Suddes Group. In the last 10 years he’s raised over $75 Million for causes in 30 countries and trained leaders from over 1000 organizations in how to use a sales process to maximize funding opportunities. An entrepreneur, Nick started his first business while a student at the University of Notre Dame. Studying biology and philosophy, Nick would leave the labs early to make sales calls for his business – the first of its kind student social network – a precursor to facebook.com. After graduating, Nick and his business partners sold their business to focus on ‘scaled impact in the social sector’. Nick is passionate about family, social entrepreneurship, running, and all things web.

Interested in Speaking at StartingBloc? Please send your bio, and any related speaker videos to kristine@startingbloc.org.