Fellowships Alumni Network Study (FANS)

Fellowships Alumni Network Study (FANS)


The Fellowship Alumni Network Study (FANS) is a collaborative research initiative supported by the W.K. Kellogg foundation that aims to learn about the positive social impact of fellowship program alumni at all levels of society.

This initiative provides a space for organizations to share and better understand the changes alumni make in their work, activities that contribute to those changes, and the role that networks play in the process. In doing so, FANS hope to inform continued learning on how fellowship programs can support their alumni to drive positive social change.

Quick Facts

IREX and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation's Role:  IREX and the W.K. Kellogg foundation came together for this project with the support of the community that grew from the Impact Fellowships Summit (IFS). The two organizations worked together as co-conveners of this community to build a consortium of over 20 fellowship programs that shared a common mission. As technical experts in fellowship programming and alumni network research, IREX facilitated the design and approach for data collection, analysis and reporting with these consortium members.

The Data: Over 1,000 fellowship alumni from 102 countries and 17 programs contributed to data collection activities coordinated by the FANS initiative. These included 14 survey campaigns, 79 interviews, 13 focus group discussions that brought together alumni from multiple fellowship programs.

Key Findings: Broadly, this study identified the type of impact that fellowship networks can have on alumni, and the common elements of a network that alumni value in improving their work. Below are some of the key findings from the report.

  1. Fellowship networks support changes at every level of society.
  2. Alumni care about three common experiences (I.e., building relationships, sharing knowledge and experiences, and accessing professional opportunities) from their fellowship network
  3. Fellowship programs foster an improved awareness of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) issues.
  4. Personal friendships are an essential part of a sustainable network.
  5. Certain support strategies are widely desired across fellowship networks.
“Participating in the research has further helped us at Library Aid Africa to improve the Young African Library Leaders Fellowship.” Evans Obhiambo, Mescripts Voices

Activities and Timeline

  • Design Phase (February - June 2022): Consortium research partners participated in regular meetings to inform the learning priorities, design and dissemination of the data collection tools used in the study.
  • Promotion of Findings and Resources (April 2023 –  December 2023): IREX, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and consortium partners promote findings from the study across their networks and professional spaces to encourage continued learning and discussion among fellowship funders and implementers.
  • Data Analysis & Reporting Phase (December 2022 – March 2023): Report of findings, recommendations, and conclusions were identified and published. Key insights aim to highlight lessons learned from the consortium research process and practical resources for fellowship organizations to consider.
  • Data Collection Phase (June 2022 – November 2022): Data collection activities included focus group discussions, key informant interviews and surveys that were facilitated across a diverse network of fellowship funders, implementers, and alumni.
“Through participating in FANS, Global Health Corps was able to connect with and learn from other similar fellowship organizations working to develop leaders. Leadership Development is still a challenging field to measure, particularly when it comes to understanding systems-level impact; therefore, building a community of practitioners to design and assess the methods for measuring this kind of programmatic impact, was greatly beneficial to our internal measurement efforts as well.” Hannah Taylor, Global Health Corps

Consortium Partners