Over 20 years, The Equity Initiative’s goal is to build a thriving and sustainable network of health equity advocates and champions to create a community for health equity in Southeast Asia and China.

In 2016, The Equity Initiative launched its fellowship program to empower young leaders to pursue and advocate social justice in health the ASEAN region. The fellowship program is designed to bring together a diverse group of professionals who have demonstrated commitment, dedication, and enthusiasm for leading change for health equity. Fellows may come from a broad range of sectors and disciplines—medicine, public health, economics, policy-making, non-governmental social action, environment, legal, business, and communications—and will join their peers for 6 weeks of in-person sessions over one year.

The fellowship is a fully funded award. Selection is based on demonstrated achievement and progress. Candidates will be vetted by national committees and chosen by an independent regional selection committee.


The Equity Initiative Fellowship is a fully funded award and designed for working professionals from Southeast Asia and China to join a diverse group of their peers for 6 weeks of in-person sessions over the course of a year. The Fellowship program seeks to inspire and deepen Fellows’ commitment to advance social justice in health. The experience goes beyond traditional academic coursework with peer, experiential, and blended online learning organized around two themes: Health Equity and Leadership.

The Fellowship program is structured around 6 learning events: Opening Retreat, Global Learning I & II, Asia Trek, Project Accelerator, and Annual Forum. The learning events are delivered by leading experts and practitioners from a range of fields including government policy makers, academic professors, founders of NGOs, and leaders of social entrepreneurship programs, and social activists. Competencies are developed through core readings, interactive sessions with peers, guest speakers and faculties, panel discussions and debates, field visits, skill-building workshops and project development. In the second year, Fellows receive seed funding to conduct collaborative health equity projects.


The Opening Retreat is the initial orientation for the Fellows in which they become grounded in the core modules and ideals of the program, engage with leadership development theory and practice, and gain exposure to health equity frameworks and values. The Retreat also aims to create a comfortable atmosphere in which Fellows start the bonding process that ultimately will determine the success of the induction year’s programming.

Fellow’s quote: “What I loved about this retreat, clearly the wonderful connections we made with one another fast-forward our friendship.”


Global Learning I is the first half of a 2-week event that takes Fellows beyond Southeast Asia for international exposures to the context of health inequities. It introduces Fellows to global perspectives on social determinants of health and on-the-ground health equity actions and social movements.

Fellow’s quote: “I had the chance to experience real life stories of health equity from different countries.”



Global Learning II, the second-half of the Global Learning event, connects Fellows with world-class scholars and inspirational leaders and deepens their understanding of the ways in which social and economic determinants affect the health of communities. In addition to academic sessions at Harvard University, the learning event includes field visits that enable Fellows to learn about the U.S health care system and innovations that are being pursued in healthcare delivery.

Fellow’s quote: “It’s so refreshing to see leadership in academia transcending to actual, real work. It’s like the knowledge never stopped here.”

Together the Global Learning experiences provide an opportunity for Fellows to become exposed to diverse perspectives and participate in exchange across disciplines, cultures and geographies.


The goal of Asia Trek is to provide Fellows with a local lens into transnational health equity issues to spark dialogue, critical thinking and problem analysis. This is a 1-week experiential immersion in the region with exposure to key health actors, action and engagement with policymakers through field visits, panel discussions and debates, and dialogue with community leaders. Asia Trek focuses on the themes of vulnerable population, including urban poor, ethnic minorities, domestic and international migrants, displaced people and informal dwellers, and children and youth with disabilities.

Fellow’s quote: “To be with like-minded people is the most enjoyable part of the gatherings with the Fellows, guest speakers and mentors. Another unique experience is to be in the communities with serious equity challenges.”


The primary goal of Project Accelerator is for Fellows to bring their proposals for equity projects to near-final form. Designing a health equity project gives Fellows the opportunity to combine peer and experiential learning and to make an impact in promoting health equity in the region. These projects, carried out in the Fellows’ second year, enable Fellows to put into practice the core values of health equity, which they have studied over the program year, and exercise newly acquired leadership skills. During a 5-day event, Fellows work in their project groups with guidance and support from experts. The Project Accelerator learning event also aims to continue building leadership and management competencies via action-oriented training workshops and open discussions to allow Fellows to exercise creativity, spontaneity, communication, leadership, and purposeful teamwork.

Fellow’s quote: “It made me recognize how professional our Fellows were in providing training on program management and communication skills.”


The Annual Forum is the culminating event of the fellowship year and a signature event of the Equity Initiative in building a sustained equity community. The Forum marks the start of the Fellows’ second year projects to advance health equity in the region, and it formally introduces and inducts the graduated Fellows into the life-long community of the Atlantic Fellows Programs. The Forum also plays an important role in promoting inter-cohort relationships with Fellow alumni, incoming Fellows, and allies as a bridge to building a regional equity community.

Fellow’s quote: “I’m much more appreciative now of the need for such programs as the EI and bringing like-minded champions together for intellectual and moral support. Advocacy and direct service can be very lonely, disheartening work and a burden shared is a burden halved.”

The Annual Forum is held in Thailand each year to coincide with the annual Prince Mahidol Award Conference (PMAC), a large-scale high-level global health conference that covers a wide range of pressing issues and brings together public health leaders and key stakeholders from around the world. PMAC creates a great opportunity to link Fellows to the wider regional and global networks.



2016 Cohort2017 Cohort2018 Cohort2019 Cohort
Opening RetreatViet Nam

21-26 Apr 2016

Viet Nam

29 Mar-3 Apr 2017

Viet Nam

18-24 Mar 2018

Viet Nam

10 -17 Mar 2019

Global Learning ISouth Africa

4-11 Jun 2016


7-14 May 2017


26 May-1 Jun 2018

South Africa

25 -31 May 2019

Global Learning IIHarvard

12-19 Jun 2016


4-10 Jun 2017


2-9 Jun 2018


1-8 Jun 2019

Asia TrekThailand-Myanmar

13-21 Aug 2016


13-20 Aug 2017


5-12 Aug 2018


1- 8 Sep 2019

Project AcceleratorCambodia

11-15 Nov 2016


30 Oct-5 Nov 2017


28 Oct-4 Nov 2018


27 Oct -3 Nov 2019

Annual ForumThailand

3-6 Feb 2017


3-6 Feb 2018


26-29 Jan 2019


26-29 Jan 2020


Community Building

We strongly believe that a community of Fellows from diverse backgrounds—with strong, shared values in social justice and equity—can achieve much greater impact that any individual or solitary group along. Thus, the fellowship year is just the beginning of a life-long journey for our Fellows.

Beyond their fellowship year, Fellows will be linked with each other and wide health equity practitioners through peer, country and regional networks with the primary purpose to provide a nurturing, enabling and empowering environment to build a long-term community for promoting health equity.


Second-Year Projects

The Equity Initiative is providing development support and seed funding for Fellows to undertake group equity-oriented action projects as they graduate from the fellowship program. The goal of the second-year project is for Fellows to put into practice the core values of health equity and leadership through special project design and implementation. Fellows can choose to pursue a range of activities, including action, policy, or research.