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Freedom Fellows



The Freedom Fellowship awards up to 10 human rights advocates, social entrepreneurs, and nonprofit leaders the unique opportunity to dramatically increase the impact of their work.

While there are numerous professional fellowship opportunities around the world, few are available for individuals working in countries ruled by authoritarian regimes. Through the Freedom Fellowship, HRF offers mentorship opportunities to extraordinary individuals who are promoting human rights and operating under very difficult circumstances.

HRF has partnered with the Center for Applied Nonviolent Tactics and Strategies (CANVAS), founded by Serbian civic leader and nonviolence strategist Srdja Popović, to build a revolutionary year-long program. The Freedom Fellowship provides hands-on, expert mentorship across seven critical areas: leadership, movement-building, organizing, fundraising, media, mental health, and digital security.

The Fellowship also aims to cultivate a growing community of human rights activists who will serve as peers and mentors to one another, helping to amplify their colleagues’ work around the world.


Our Impact


Freedom Fellow


Countries Represented


Focus Areas


Hours of Mentorship (340 per year)


I joined the Freedom Fellowship at a time I was full of doubt and anger after terrible elections in my country. I came to the conclusion that I needed to try another strategy, to try some unexplored paths beyond what my movement was doing.

Fred BaumaCongolese human rights activist & 2019 HRF Freedom Fellow

What I love about the Freedom Fellows experience is that it brought together a community of activist peers, from whom I learned and with whom I connected. The support, understanding, and connections are invaluable.

Asma KhalifaLibyan human rights activist & 2020 HRF Freedom Fellow

How it Works


The year-long fellowship kicks off at HRF’s annual Oslo Freedom Forum in Norway, where Fellows meet for the first time and witness the impactful work of this event.

Working Retreat

Later in the year, Fellows embark on a one-week retreat, which focuses on nonviolent movement-building and strategic planning, led by CANVAS’ founder, Srdja Popović.

Mentorship Sessions

Fellows also convene in other locations around the world for in-person mentorship on digital security, fundraising, mental health, and marketing.

Individual Projects

Between their in-person sessions, Fellows continue online work in close collaboration with their new peers and mentors. Over time, they gain the skills and connections necessary to considerably expand the reach of their causes.

Final Presentation

These efforts culminate in a final presentation at the following Oslo Freedom Forum, after which Fellows serve as mentors to the new incoming class of Freedom Fellows.

Past Freedom Fellows in the News

Faure Must Go: How One Togolese Woman…

June 13, 2018

Meet the Youthful Face of Resistance…

June 28, 2017

Nicaragua Now. Ortega Still.

March 15, 2019

Freedom Fellowship Mentors

Srdja Popović

Expert in nonviolent resistance and founder of the Center for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies (CANVAS)

Gayle Young

Former chief cultural and talent officer of the Wikimedia Foundation

John Shaffer

Digital security expert

Joe Smith

Award-winning filmmaker, producer, and director

Breza Race

Program director at CANVAS

Ana Babović

Lecturer at Sciences Po & Harvard, founder and CEO of Forward Consulting

Firen Forrest

President of Ignite Talks

Brady Forrest

Co-founder and CEO of Ignite Talks

Vanina Waizmann

Mental health mentor

If you would like to support the Freedom Fellowship or receive more information about the program, please email [email protected]