The Washington State Institute for a Democratic Future (WAIDF) is a fellowship that prepares aspiring progressive leaders with the knowledge and tools to make change. Program graduates join a network of hundreds of alumni in elected, policy, staff, and advocacy roles that shape politics and policy in Washington state.

Across ten intensive weekends from January to June, and one full week in D.C., WAIDF fellows are given an immersive deep-dive into the policy landscape of Washington state. Participants will get a comprehensive view of how policy is made, explore the different levels of power and influence in our political and governmental systems, and see the direct impacts of policy on the ground in communities across the state. The program presents numerous networking opportunities amongst fellows and with elected officials, local leaders and advocates, lobbyists, nonprofits, and WAIDF alumni working to build a better world. 

Every WAIDF cohort graduates as a team of progressive leaders ready to make a difference in campaigns, public policy, and in their communities. 

Our major focus areas are: 

  • Public policy and emerging issues – Participants will travel across Washington state to see first-hand the impacts of policy on agriculture, homelessness, transportation, education, energy, and the environment. 
  • The legislative and political process – Fellows will meet with elected officials, lobbyists, and staffers, both in Washington state and in Washington D.C. 
  • Campaigns and elections – Every cohort receives training on the fundamentals of winning campaigns and elections, including how to develop a campaign plan, manage a campaign budget, craft effective messaging, and recruit dedicated volunteers.

Application Process 


Participants must be progressives between the ages of 21 and 39.

Prospective participants must submit an application form, cover letter, resume, and a letter of recommendation. 

Final selections will be made through an interview process after careful review of all applications. 

Fees and Deadlines

Early Deadline: The early application has a non-refundable application fee of $35 due upon submission of the application.

Late Deadline: The late application has a non-refundable application fee of $75 due upon submission of the application. 

If you are unable to cover the application fee but are interested in the program, please contact us for support. 

Interviews: Interviews will be scheduled shortly after the final application deadline. This year’s interviews will be conducted virtually.


Tuition for the Washington State Institute for a Democratic Future is $830. The full cost of the program is significantly higher than tuition, but we do all we can to keep tuition as low and accessible as possible. The program costs in excess of tuition are subsidized by donations from WAIDF Board Members, alumni, and allied organizations and individuals.  

Tuition generally covers the costs of program staff, meeting space fees, tickets to events, kickoff and graduation ceremony costs, and hotel stays for non-Seattle trips. 

All snacks, drinks, coffees, meals (specifically lunches and dinners during sessions and in DC), travel (we recommend carpooling for our road trips) and DC airfare are your own responsibility.

Financial Aid / Scholarships

The Washington State Institute for a Democratic Future strongly believes that money shouldn’t be a roadblock for aspiring progressive leaders. If you require financial assistance to cover tuition or other costs associated with the program, there are scholarships, travel reimbursements, and payment plans available. Additionally, participants are encouraged to pursue sponsorships from local progressive organizations, their union, and/or their employer. 

All travel costs, including meals, are not included in the cost of the program and will be the Fellows responsibility to cover. Carpooling is encouraged and supported in the program. There is a scholarship request option upon acceptance into the program to support those costs.

Our alumni donate toward our WAIDF Scholarship Fund. We typically provide assistance for a certain number of accepted fellows, based on need. Prospective fellows are asked on their applications whether they would like a scholarship, and the preferred amount of support they need. Please note that we cannot offer 100% scholarships to fellows.  

We also offer monthly payment plans. If you would like to pay your tuition over a period of four months, please indicate that in your application.