Young Leaders Breakfast Club

What is the Young Leaders Breakfast Club?

The Young Leaders Breakfast Club (YLBC) is a leadership development program created by Philanthropy New York in 2010. YLBC is a cohort-based network that brings early to mid-career professionals together, with the support of mentors from the PNY community, to support their leadership development, build a strong peer network in the field, and navigate how they contribute to mission-driven work as younger professionals. YLBC creates a space for participants to build relationships across a diverse community of professionals, work on personal and collective learning goals, and practice leadership skills.

The 2024 Young Leaders Breakfast Club will run from May 2024 through January 2025.

Who should apply?

YLBC is open to staff and trustees of Philanthropy New York member organizations with 5 - 15 years of professional experience. Professionals in roles across the organization are welcome (i.e., programs, communications, grants management, finance, administration, trustees, research, executive, etc).

PNY seeks to create a cohort of young leaders and mentors who represent the local community and the diversity of roles and types of foundations. YLBC prioritizes the participation of young professionals of color, as well as from other underrepresented communities in philanthropy, including from immigrant, LGBTQ, and disabled communities.

**We aim to accept around 30 PNY members in this year's YLBC cohort. Due to high demand, we often need to limit the number of participants from any one organization to ensure the cohort represents PNY's organizational membership.

How is YLBC structured?

At Philanthropy New York, we believe that a strong individual identity and set of values is a cornerstone to building community. YLBC strives to create opportunities for Young Leaders to learn about their own values and allow them the space in which to discover how those values weave in and out of the larger philanthropic ecosystem through relationships with a mentor and other young leaders. 

Over the course of the program, Young Leaders will participate in the following components of the program:  

  • Breakfast Clubs” are composed of three young leaders and a group mentor. Each group meets monthly, both as a young leader peer group and as a group with their mentor. Each group designs their own agendas and use their meetings to navigate professional challenges, strategize about short-term and long-term goals, and build deeper relationships with colleagues across the field.
  • One-on-one meetings enable young leaders to build relationships with one another and their group’s mentor. Professional relationships enable young leaders to discuss challenges that arise, integrate new perspectives into their work, and collaboratively develop strategies for social change.
  • Individual reflective activities provide space and structure for young leaders guided by mentors and their own experience to reflect upon their work, their professional goals and the perspective that they each bring to the field. Solo work sets the foundation for getting the most value out of the program and for building a strong YLBC community.
  • Online cohort space brings the YLBC community together as a vibrant network for resource sharing, skills development, and relationship building.

Application Process

Applications are currently closed for the 2024 cohort.

Time Commitment: May 2024 - January 2025

Our intention is that the opening and closing sessions will be in person, but the group and one-on-one meetings will be a mix of in-person and virtual, based on the cohort preference.  If you are unable to meet in person for any reason (location, health, time limitations, etc.), please indicate in the application and provide a brief explanation.

There are two components to the application: candidate application and sponsor nomination. Please submit both applications by Wednesday, March 27. 

We will notify all applicants by Friday, April 26 and selected participants will need to confirm their participation by May 3.

**We aim to accept around 30 Philanthropy New York members in this year's YLBC cohort. Due to high demand, we often need to limit the number of participants from any one organization to ensure the cohort represents PNY's organizational membership.

Interested in Learning More?       

Philanthropy New York is hosting three office hour style information sessions before the application deadline for those interested in learning more about the program, what we look for in candidates, and how to apply. Register for any one of the sessions below:

Frequently Asked Questions

Who are young leaders?

YLBC is geared toward philanthropy professionals who have five to fifteen years of professional experience, with an intentional focus on communities historically underrepresented in the sector. Some questions to consider:

  • Are you in a place of shifting – moving into something new or figuring out what you might be leaving behind? 
  • Are you experiencing dynamic tensions in your positionality or responsibilities and seeking tools and support to work through them? 
  • Are you in the process of creating your professional “wise counsel” – people and relationships that serve as a sounding board for you? 

If these questions resonate with you, YLBC is an opportunity to explore these and other questions in community with others. 

Who are mentors? 

Much like ‘young’, the term ‘mentor’ is open to broad interpretation. In the context of YLBC, mentors hold leadership and learning as two sides of the same coin. Are you able to move fluidly between leader and learner? Are you someone who recognizes leadership even if it’s not defined as such? Are you someone who responds to curiosity and thirst for knowledge with excitement? Are you someone to whom people come to for advice? Are you able to listen as well as speak?

Know someone who would be a wonderful mentor? Email Donita Volkwijn (dvolkwijn@philanthropynewyork.orgto nominate them.

What is the time commitment?

YLBC will run from May 2024 through January 2025.

Participating in YLBC is a significant professional commitment and requires time out of the office or on Zoom in order to do the necessary individual work, meet with your breakfast club monthly, commit to one-on-one relationship building with your mentor and peers, and fully participate in cohort activities.

Breakfast club meetings and cohort programming tend to take place during regular business hours. Some breakfast clubs, however, opt to meet before or after work for their monthly meetings, depending on group availability.

We encourage all young leaders to set aside time for this program. We regularly hear that the program is as valuable as the energy you put in. We prioritize applicants who can be fully engaged in the YLBC community.

Why do we need YLBC?

Philanthropy is often more steeped in tradition than equity, which has led to homogeneity in the demographic and skillset of those chosen to lead. However, leadership defined by tradition is not creating the transformational change necessary to center equity in the philanthropic sector. YLBC not only encourages participants to learn but offers opportunities to identify the ways in which they already lead change and have their voices heard. 

Much of the programming at Philanthropy New York is intended to help individuals and organizations develop skills that allow them to discern for themselves what a conscientious and empathetic philanthropic sector could look like. PNY looks through the lens of me-> we-> community as a way of bringing loftier sector wide goals to an individual level, so that excellent philanthropic practice is not something to pursue at only an organizational level, but to understand and absorb on a personal level. 

“Leveraging what you know and leaving space open to grow.” 

What if I can't participate this year?

We launch a new cycle of YLBC every few years. We will announce and hold information sessions before the start of each cycle to cover critical information about the program goals, structure, time commitment, participant responsibilities, and application process.

Young leaders: To receive announcements about the next YLBC cycle, edit your Philanthropy New York profile and choose “Young Professionals” as a professional interest area. You can also subscribe to receive PNY updates here!

Mentors: Email Donita Volkwijn ( to inquire about serving as a mentor.