Undergraduate Leaders Program

A group photo of Undergraduate Leaders.

IonE Undergraduate Leaders: Convergence of Ideas & Action

The Institute on the Environment (IonE) Undergraduate Leaders Program helps emerging undergraduate leaders become real-world change makers committed to solutions-focused leadership. It encourages holistic thinking and respects the diverse skills and perspectives each leader brings to the table.

Program participants will receive a $1,600 stipend. Applications for the 2023-24 cohort are have been closed. Stay tuned for when they open again mid-August 2024!

What will you do as an IonE Undergraduate Leader?

  • Recognize how equity is integral to sustainability and identify structural inequities in the systems we are part of
  • Learn from diverse and underrepresented perspectives
  • Advance your leadership skills and meet self-identified goals
  • Form community and build long-lasting connections with people who are passionate about sustainability and equity

Team Projects

IonE Undergraduate Leaders will work in teams of 4 students with a community partner on a project related to sustainability and equity. Project descriptions will be provided for the applicants to identify their preferred projects.

In 2024-25, we are only accepting applications from Twin Cities students as we are planning for in-person programming during our cohort meetings.

If you are a student from a different U of M campus interested in participating, we still want to know! Please email nguy4982@umn.edu if you are interested so we can consider your input and interest when we plan for next year.

2024-2025 Cohort Timeline

Applications deadline: Applications are now being reviewed. New applicants will be reviewed on a rolling basis.
Interviews: Third and fourth week September

Decisions: First week October

Kick Off Event: Saturday, October 5th, 10 am – 3 pm

Fall Meetings are on the following Mondays, 6 – 8 pm: 

  • October 14th
  • October 28th
  • November 11th
  • November 25th

Spring Meetings are on the following Mondays, 6 – 8 pm:

  • January 27th
  • February 10th
  • February 24th
  • March 10th
  • March 24th
  • April 7th

Sustainability Symposium: Friday, April 11th, 2025

Final Retreat: Monday, April 21st, 2025

Team Meetings: Project teams will meet on alternating Mondays (when the full cohort is not meeting) at the beginning of the program. Based on student schedules, teams will adjust meeting times later in the program.

Community Mentor Meetings: Teams also meet with the Community Mentor on periodic basis for community context and project direction and feedback on project progress. Each team will also have a program co-facilitator serve as a coach for their team for individualized or small group coaching on their project and leadership goals.


Please contact Thi Nguyen at nguy4982@umn.edu

Project Management

  • Goal Setting + Planning

  • Logic models + Formative evaluation

  • Systems thinking + Stakeholder analysis

Leadership Development

  • Off-campus retreats

  • Cohort activities

  • Peer feedback

Network Building

  • Informational interviews

  • Guest speakers (University and community leaders)

  • Coaching with facilitators


  • Off-campus retreats

  • Cohort activities

  • Peer feedback

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Cohort of leaders reflecting together on making change in the world.
  • Workshops with sustainability and leadership content and thought-provoking speakers.
  • A collaborative network of peers to take action on sustainability ideas and projects.
  • Program participants will receive a $1,600 stipend.

  • Attend all Undergraduate Leaders Meetings.
  • Develop goals and action plans and reflect on your project/leadership practice and meet with mentor as a small group or individually to discuss progress periodically.
  • Work with a network of your peers to take action on a sustainability ideas and projects.
  • The estimated time commitment to work on your leadership project is 100 hours in addition to gatherings.

We accept online applications at the start of each school year.

University of Minnesota Twin Cities undergraduate students from all disciplinary backgrounds with a passion for sustainability and desire to expand their leadership experiences are eligible to apply.

Yes! Leadership is a on-going practice. The workshops and leadership activities vary each year so participants won’t feel that the activities are redundant. Each cohort has its own characteristics and returning IonE Undergrad Leaders are welcome to re-apply.

The program is from October to April each year. Program participants can expect to commit to attending the cohort meetings during the academic year. See the schedule above. Participants are also expected to hold at least one small group meeting per month with their project mentors and coaches. Participants commit to working on their projects for approximately 100 hours from October until April. 

No, applicants admitted to the program are expected to participate in all scheduled program events. Rare exceptions can be made.