Sylff Leadership Initiatives

The call for applications was updated on March 25th, 2024 ("4. Selection Criteria").

Current and graduated fellows who are committed to taking the small steps that can make a big difference for the benefit of society are encouraged to apply for an SLI grant to undertake initiatives that are aligned with the Sylff mission. The Sylff Association will provide a maximum of US$10,000 per successful project.

  • The Call for Applications (Updated March 2024) is available in PDF file and text versions (below). Please note that the application form and related documents are available in the text version only. Download these documents from the links in section 3 (Application) on this page.

Call for Applications

1. About Sylff Leadership Initiatives (SLI)

To encourage Sylff fellows to take initiatives that can change society for the better, the Sylff Association provides financial support for two categories of SLI activities: (1) social action projects and (2) the organization of a forum, conference, seminar, or workshop; such gatherings may be of either an academic or nonacademic nature, but academic meetings must address tangible social issues and aim to have real-world impact. An important consideration in screening applicants is whether or not the proposed project was initiated by the Sylff fellow. Past SLI activities are described in “Awardees & Reports.” (

The Sylff Philosophy
Issues of pressing concern today are becoming more and more intertwined with other complex, global-scale problems, and no one country can resolve them alone. The parties affected by the problems may not all have the same values and interests or share economic or political orientations. Underlying the Sylff philosophy is the desire to support “leaders” with the passion and ability to serve the common interests of humanity, transcending narrow national, religious, ethnic, and other differences to undertake socially constructive leadership initiatives and act in an inclusive manner, respecting diversity in cultures and values.


2. Eligibility

  1. Applications must be submitted by one or more current/graduated Sylff fellows.
  2. The proposed project must be initiated by a fellow and geared toward making a contribution to society.
  3. The proposal must be for a (1) social action project or a (2) forum-type event.

In addition to the above eligibility requirements, the following should also be considered:

  • SLI does not finance pure research.
  • SLI does not finance projects that were initiated by a non-fellow.
  • SLI grants may be used to finance ongoing projects originally conceived outside the SLI framework, but such projects must be in line with the aims of SLI.
  • Projects should be at the implementation stage, ready to create significant social impact with the help of an SLI grant. SLI does not support projects at the foundation-building stage, where work is still needed to develop an impactful framework.
  • Priority will be given to creative and innovative approaches that can be expected to generate or catalyze significant social change.

3. Application

  1. Period of Application
    Applications will be accepted throughout the year.
  2. Application Procedures
    Application procedures consist of the following two stages:
    • Preliminary Application (Concept Paper)
      Applicants must submit a concept paper (prescribed form downloadable as Word file) at least four months prior to the project’s implementation (exceptions may be considered in unavoidable circumstances; please contact the Sylff Association secretariat for details). Applicants should indicate the issue they wish to address, the project’s goals, the approaches to be taken, and anticipated social impact.
      The concept paper will be reviewed by the Sylff Association secretariat; successful applications will proceed to the formal application stage.
    • Formal Application
      Applicants whose concept papers have been approved are invited to submit a formal application consisting of the following:
      • Application form (prescribed form downloadable as Word file)
      • Detailed proposal (Word file, 2,000 words maximum)

        The detailed proposal should address the following:
        • Issue: What is the key issue you wish to address and why are you addressing it?
        • Activities and approaches: What do you hope to do and how will you do it?
        • Objectives and goals: What are your objectives and goals?
        • Initiative: How you are proposing, organizing, and leading the project?
        • Relevance and significance: Why is the project relevant and significant? For whom?
        • Feasibility: Provide arguments for the feasibility of the proposed project.
        • Number: Indicate the number of project participants and their respective roles.
        • Expected outcomes: Outline expected outcomes in both short and mid-long terms.
        • Others: Describe other aspects to help reviewers judge the proposed project.
      • Budget (sample downloadable as Excel file)
      • Schedule
      • Bios
        Submit a brief biographical sketch (within 100words) for each applicant and other project members, including their background, current position or occupation, academic or professional interests, and role in the proposed project.
      • References
        Two letters of recommendation should be submitted. They should be written by those who endorse the project and are familiar with your academic achievements and/or social engagement activities.
  3. Notification
    Applicants will be notified of the results so as to provide sufficient lead time for the implementation of the project.
  4. Award Disbursement
    • The award will be disbursed directly to successful applicants. An Agreement will be signed between the applicant and the Tokyo Foundation. In principle, the full amount will be paid in one installment before the project is implemented.
    • A project report, including a narrative description of the results and a financial report, shall be submitted by all applicants. The financial report must be accompanied by receipts. Should actual expenditures turn out to be significantly less than the amount disbursed, the Foundation will request a refund of the unexpended funds.

4. Selection Criteria

All updates are indicated in red. 

Applications will be evaluated from the following five perspectives:

  1. The applicant’s commitment to the social issue being addressed and the importance of his/her role in the project
  2. Prospects for positive change in the conditions of the issue’s stakeholders
  3. The originality of the project and the extent to which the proposal reflects the applicant’s knowledge, experience, insight, or network
  4. The likelihood that the project will serve as a model or foundation for subsequent, larger-scale initiatives
  5. The feasibility of the budget, schedule, and partners in advancing the project

Improving Your Chances of Winning an Award
Many concept papers for socially worthwhile projects are submitted but wind up getting rejected because they lack specifics. Proposals for concrete, well-planned action that can be expected to have tangible impact will have a much better chance of winning an SLI award. To improve your chances, please look over the list below. Based on the applications we have received to date, successful concept papers:

  • Contain explanations of the issues being addressed that are concise and can be readily understood by those without specialized knowledge or outside a specific demographic.
  • Address issues that are within the scope of the proposed action.
  • Propose projects designed to provide a direct solution to identified issues, with a feasible budget and implementation plan.
  • Showcase how the applicant has initiated and will actively lead the project.
  • Illustrate how the applicant’s experience, knowledge, and expertise will make a unique contribution.
  • Clearly define the change that the projects aim to achieve or inspire among the participants and stakeholders.

5. Awards

  1. The maximum award per project is $10,000. Additional funding may be provided, but only when necessary to accommodate requests expressly made by the Sylff Association secretariat.
  2. An SLI award may be used to cover the following expenses:

    International travel, domestic transportation, accommodations, honoraria for experts,* meeting room/hall rental, refreshments served at meetings, acquisition of resource materials, printing and copying of documents, consumables, supplies, communication costs, etc. It may NOT be used for the following:
    • Personnel costs for outsourced logistics, record-keeping, event planning, and/or other project-related services
    • Purchases of property or other assets
    • Other items as determined by the secretariat
  3. Awards may be combined with other funds or financial resources.

    * The award covers honoraria only to those whose expertise is vital to the success of the project. If you are uncertain whether a person qualifies, please consult the Sylff Association secretariat.


  1. SLI awardees will be requested to share the outcome of their projects with the Sylff Association in a variety of formats, including articles on the Sylff website.
  2. Members of the Sylff Association (secretariat staff and Sylff fellows not associated with the project) may visit and observe awarded projects.
  3. All application documents and communication must be written in English.


Awardees and Reports

Awardees and Reports

The Tokyo Foundation for Policy Research is pleased to announce the following recipients of SLI awards since fiscal 2013.

Eleni Papakyriakou (2024)
University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna

Title: Gender equality for orchestra conductors in leadership positions: Sinfonietta Passau - a symphony orchestra founded by Eleni Papakyriakou. Concerts “Tree of Life – Bruckner200” in April 2024

Related article: "SLI Award for Project to Promote Diversity and Inclusion in Music through Concerts in Germany"

Khinvraj Suthar Jangid (2024)
Jawaharlal Nehru University

Title: Life after School for the Rural Youth in Jodhpur, Rajasthan

Related article: "An Initiative to Broaden Educational Horizons for Rural Youth in India"

Pilar Valenzuela (2023)
University of Oregon

Title: Sustaining Indigenous Identity: A Collaborative Approach to Community Education for the Amahuaca People

Related article: "SLI Award for Project to Create an Educational Model for the Indigenous Amahuaca People in Peru"

Mauricio Artiñano Guzman (2023)
Princeton University

Title: An Ethical Pact for the Costa Rican Municipal Elections 2024

Related article: "SLI Awards for Project to Ensure Democratic Elections in Costa Rica"

Dorjkhand Sharavjamts (2023)
National Academy of Governance

Title: Breaking the Chains: A Conference on Overcoming Childhood Trauma and Improving Mental Health in Mongolia - Bridging Research and Practice

Related article: "SLI Award for Project to Raise Awareness of Mental Health Issues in Mongolia"
Report on "Voices from the Sylff Community": "Raising Awareness: Addressing the Impact of Childhood Trauma and Promoting Trauma-Informed Care"

Liza Hamman (2020)
University of the Western Cape

Title: Mindfulness for South African Educators

Holly Horan (2020)
University of Oregon

Title: The International Conference of Integrated Birth Care: Bridging the Gaps to Evidence Based Practice and Collaboration

Mulatu Alemayehu Moges (2019)
University of Oslo

Title: Strengthening Ethiopian Journalists’ Capacity on Election Reporting, Voters Education and Civic Education
Related article: "SLI Awards for Projects to Ensure a Democratic Election and Protect Indigenous People’s Rights"
Report on "Voices from the Sylff community": "
Strengthening Journalists’ Election Reporting Skills as Ethiopia Transitions to a Democracy"

Bruno Pegorari (2019)
University of São Paulo

Title: Protecting Guarani Kaiowa Indigenous People’s land rights through a litigation strategy
Related article: "SLI Awards for Projects to Ensure a Democratic Election and Protect Indigenous People’s Rights"

Shangrila Joshi Wynn (2019)
University of Oregon
Title: Climate Justice and REDD+: Voices of Community Forest Users
Related article: "
SLI Awards for Projects to Empower the Local Community and Facilitate Climate Justice"

Sennane Gatakaa Riungu (2019)
University of Nairobi
Title: The Greenhouse Enterprise - Maara Constituency -, Kenya
Related article: "SLI Awards for Projects to Empower the Local Community and Facilitate Climate Justice"

Jennifer S. Moore (2018)
Massey University
Title: Action to address a stakeholder-identified need: development of a questionnaire to improve resolution after medical injury
Related article: "SLI Awards in 2018: Projects to Stop Violence against Women and to Improve Medical Injury Responses"

Tayseer Abu Odeh (2018)
The University of Jordan (Jordan)
Title: Bruised Bodies and Wounded Souls: Violence Against Women in Jordan
Related article: "
Influential Figures Attend University of Jordan Forum to Discuss Violence against Women"
Related article: "SLI Awards in 2018: Projects to Stop Violence against Women and to Improve Medical Injury Responses"

 Rimple Mehta (2017)
Jadavpur University (India)
Report on "Voices from the Sylff Community": "Carceral Logics and Social Justice: Women Prisoners in India"
Related article: "
Fellow’s Book Highlights Plight of “Invisible, Incarcerated” Women Prisoners in India"

The provision of a grant is intended to support a fellow's social initiatives and does not necessarily indicate that the Tokyo Foundation for Policy Research endorses the political or other views of the awardee.

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Please be sure to read this page in the original language (English), not just as a translation using the “Translate” function. The Sylff Association does not guarantee the accuracy or appropriateness of the translation, which is offered through Google Translate for reference purposes only.

Inquiries should be directed to:

Sylff Association Secretariat
Subject: Sylff Leadership Initiatives(SLI)
Email: sylff[a] *[a] must be replaced by @
The Sylff Association will accept inquiries related to this program via email ONLY.