What Is Sylff

The Ryoichi Sasakawa Young Leaders Fellowship Fund (Sylff) Program

The Ryoichi Sasakawa Young Leaders Fellowship Fund, or Sylff (pronounced “sylph”), is a fellowship program initiated in 1987 to support students pursuing graduate studies in humanities and social sciences disciplines. To date, endowments of $1 million each have been presented to 69 universities and consortia in 44 countries. The Sylff program aims to identify and nurture leaders who will overcome differences such as nationality, language, ethnicity, religion, and political systems to tackle global issues, and whose high integrity and drive to address issues unique to their respective countries can make a real difference. About 15,000 students have received fellowships since the launch of the program in 1987. These Sylff fellows have been active in a diversity of fields following their graduation.

The Sylff Program is a collaborative initiative of The Nippon Foundation, the endowment donor, and The Tokyo Foundation, the program administrator.

Basic Structure of Sylff Program

The Sylff Program is inspired by the vision of the late Ryoichi Sasakawa, philanthropist and founding chairman of The Nippon Foundation that “The world is one family and all mankind are brothers and sisters.” The Program contributes to support the education of outstanding students pursuing graduate level study in the social sciences and humanities with high potential for leadership, by establishing endowments at selected institutions of higher learning throughout the world, providing a sustainable source of fellowships in perpetuity.

Applications and Selection

The Tokyo Foundation does not receive individual applications for fellowships. Sylff Steering Committees established at Sylff-endowed institutions are responsible for the implementation of the fellowship program including announcement and selection. Information on each Sylff institution is available on the Sylff website.

The Sylff Fellowship Program under a New Financial Scheme

To tackle with the ongoing financial uncertainty, the Tokyo Foundation and Nippon Foundation jointly launched a new financial scheme in 2014. The new scheme has been developed as an alternative to the conventional Sylff Program, enabling participating schools to pass on the burden of fund-management to the Tokyo Foundation, and thus focus solely on running the fellowship itself.

Participating schools first of all return their endowment to The Nippon Foundation, following which fellowships are distributed directly to students from out of a Tokyo Foundation-managed fund established through a grant from The Nippon Foundation. Under this program, up to USD 50,000 in fellowships is provided annually to outstanding students at each participating institution based on a five-year contract signed between the Tokyo Foundation and Sylff institution*. The fellowship under this new financial scheme is named “Sylff Fellowship Program”.

Under the Sylff Fellowship Program, candidates are nominated by their institution, following which the Tokyo Foundation conducts a review and makes the final selection. Successful nominees receive funding directly from the Tokyo Foundation.

It is important to note that fellows and institutions under the new Sylff Fellowship Program enjoy equal status as those under the conventional Sylff Program. For fellows, this includes eligibility for support programs, while institutions are encouraged to continue to play active roles in Sylff administrators’ meetings.

At present, approximately 10 institutions have completed or in the process of introducing the new program.

* Maximum amount of fellowships per institution is guaranteed during the initial five years under the contract and may be changed in time of renewal of the contract for the next five years.

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