Who we are


We must begin to address global challenges at their root causes rather than merely treating their symptoms

From poverty and hunger to climate change and preventable disease, we have more than enough challenges in the world. Our efforts are often too focussed on isolated issues in particular locations. Or we try to paint with too big of a brush without any regard to local culture and populations. It’s time to re-think our approach.

The global challenges we face are complex and we need the next generation of leaders and to have the knowledge and ability to address that complexity, build community, and collaboratively develop sustainable solutions. We need to give these global leaders the skills and resources to navigate the systems, and tackle their root causes, rather than simply learning to adapt and cope with their effects.

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5000+ young people. 35 countries. Over 20 years of impact.

David French, founded the Orbis Institute in 1996. After decades of experience in the business and non-profit sectors, David set out to build an organization that would effectively realize his vision for globally minded leaders. He understood that  challenges of the 21st century were global and knew that leadership should be also.


The first programs began with the help of students from the University of Colorado at Boulder’s President’s Leadership Class (PLC). Together, they launched an innovative training program for globally minded young leaders called the Emerging Leaders Forum (ELF). In its pilot year, ELF brought together participants from ten countries including Slovakia, China, South Korea, Japan, Nepal, England, Israel, Russia, Germany, and the United States.


With ELF’s success, the program evolved into World Camps, Orbis became an independent 501(c)3, and created an Orbis Institute in Europe. Over the years Orbis delivered 8 World Camps for high school and college students in the US, China, and Central Europe.

With the early success of world camps, Orbis created the Orbis Fellowship program for young professionals and recent college graduates to help them build their global impact careers. Fellows have been placed in Kenya, India, Nepal, and at the Orbis House in Denver Colorado.


Each program uses Orbis’ own global leadership model to foster awareness, critical thinking, and action. This graduated approach allows Orbis the opportunity to work with participants as they grow from young students into global leaders.


Orbis Institute’s programs have impacted over 5,000 youth from 35 countries around the world: Afghanistan, Canada, China, Colombia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, El Salvador, England, Ethiopia, France, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, India, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Nepal, Peru, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Somalia, South Korea, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, USA, Zimbabwe.