Thousand Currents Academy

Thousand Currents Academy Spring 2020
Applications are now closed.

A weeklong training for social change
agents mobilizing resources for grassroots solutions.

Our spring 2020 Academy will be at the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center in Falls Village, CT from March 23-27, 2020.

Applications for spring 2020 are now closed.

Stay tuned for spring 2021 applications soon!

About the Academy

What are the goals of the Thousand Currents Academy?

  • To ground participants in their own histories, agency, bodies, and visions;
  • To connect philanthropic and impact investing leaders to grassroots wisdom by offering tools, models, and good practices from faculty who are global thought leaders and frontline community organizers—movement builders, ecologists, artists, and funders—people like Angelina Aspuac, Indigenous rights and women’s movement leader from Guatemala;
  • To train practitioners in how to align organizations toward learning and transforming;
  • To expand the network of practitioners who are advocating for philanthropy to uplift the leadership of grassroots leaders that are tackling the root causes of poverty and injustice;
  • To share practices in funder/grantee relationships, collaboration, and trust-based relationships.

The work [of social change] requires that people have some kind of personal transformation in their conception of the ‘Third World’ in order to be effective agents of change.

– Thousand Currents Academy Faculty, Dr. Mutombo Mpanya



What to expect at the Academy

What will I experience and learn at the Thousand Currents Academy?

Maria Estela Barco Huerta, from Thousand Currents partner DESMI, at the Thousand Currents Academy

The Thousand Currents Academy is a week of personal transformation toward concrete action. Each module is led by expert faculty with a diversity of leadership styles and ways of teaching. Some modules are art-based including movement, writing, visual art, and song. Some intentionally take place in the outdoors, learning about ecosystems from the natural world. Others are led by our Global South partners and mirror their facilitation methodologies. Still others feature leaders in social justice grantmaking, sharing strategies to change one’s own giving or grantmaking and influencing the sector as a whole.

Thousand Currents is also committed to supporting participants’ well-being and allowing time to digest, percolate, absorb, reflect, and pause. Our curriculum is rigorous and intensive while still providing generous breaks, delicious meals, and time to get to know each other, the gorgeous land and retreat setting in which we are convening. Participants often share their delighted surprise at how nourished and rested they feel at the end of the Academy.

Why an Academy?

The Academy was a response to a mandate from Thousand Currents’ international grassroots partners to promote transformative, culturally and ecologically competent, human rights and social justice based approaches in philanthropy, international development and impact investing.

Blog Reflections from Past Participants and Faculty 

Application Criteria and Fees

Who should apply to the Thousand Currents Academy?

The Thousand Currents Academy is ideal for people working personally or professionally in the philanthropic, investing, or finance sectors. Participants include:

  • Family philanthropists (especially next generation)
  • Staff of foundations, grantmaking organizations, or donor networks
  • Individual donors
  • Impact investors
  • Socially-conscious business owners
  • Social entrepreneurs
  • Philanthropic and financial advisors

… or simply put, those who seek to make a change in the world by employing financial resources.

While Thousand Currents focuses on funding the Global South, there is no requirement for participants to work internationally. The content and methodologies of the Academy are applicable regardless of your exact focus or position in the sector. Past participants have been from a diversity of positions and experience: program officers at issue-based or place-based foundations, consultants in the impact investing sector, individual donors giving to a variety of issues, trustees of community foundations, and many more.

Our values behind Academy fees

We strive to make the Thousand Currents Academy as financially accessible as possible. We invite everyone to join us in living into our values of interdependence and collaboration in sustaining the Academy. To that end, we offer a sliding scale for Academy fees. Additionally, we offer a 10% discount to each additional participant from a single organization or family. We also offer payment plans, on which the Academy application includes more information.

Academy fees include accommodations, meals, and snacks at the retreat site and all distributed materials. They do not include transportation to or from the Academy.

Fee ranges:

$3,500: Full-cost fee. This fee represents the approximate cost of each participant at the Academy. It includes items such as faculty lodging, in addition to one’s individual food and lodging. If possible, we ask you to pay in at least the Full-cost fee, especially if your organizational assets are over $1 million. This ensures that subsidized fees can remain accessible to those who need them.

$1,500 – $3,500: Subsidized fee range. Many interested in the Academy play influential roles in philanthropy but are not in a well-endowed financial position themselves. This fee range is for participants who are only able to afford the cost of their own food, lodging, and basic materials. Consider this range if your organizational assets are below $750,000 or if you are paying out of your own income.

$3,500 – $6,000: Solidarity fee range. This fee range is for participants who are able to cover their own full cost of the Academy, and can help subsidize the cost for others to attend. If you can, please take on this role of financial leadership to make the Academy as accessible as possible. We encourage you to pay in this range especially if your organizational assets are $5 million or more, or if you are independently wealthy.  

Register for Course Credit for the Thousand Currents Academy

The Thousand Currents Academy is an accredited course with the University of Vermont! The 3-credit graduate-level course, titled Power, Privilege, and Partnership: Practicing Philanthropy and Supporting Grassroots Social Change, is part of the university’s Leadership for Sustainability Master’s Degree Concentration.

Thousand Currents is grateful to The Leo Model Foundation, The West Foundation, The Libra FoundationThe Whitman InstituteThe NoVo FoundationAndrus Family FundSurdna Foundation, and Arntz Family Foundation for their investments in the Academy.