Network Innovation Grants

Network Innovation Grants

The Switzer Fellowship Network is one of the Switzer Foundation’s most important assets.  The 550 Fellows in the Switzer Fellowship Network represent diverse fields of interest including science, law, policy, journalism, architecture and planning, among others. Fellows are based in nonprofit organizations, the business sector, public agencies and academia.  Through the Switzer Network Innovation Grants program, the Foundation seeks to tap this diverse Network’s collective potential for innovation and action to solve today’s complex environmental issues.  This grant program intends to create a pathway toward environmental improvement that starts with sharing ideas that will lead to action and results.

Through this program, we invite Switzer Fellows to work together, and with their personal networks of colleagues and organizations, to engage in shared learning, convening, collaboration and ultimately “breakthrough” thinking and action.  Interested Fellows should be willing to take a leadership role in advancing progress on the identified issue and must share their proposed idea with the Network before the Foundation will consider an application. This builds on our belief that broader input can yield new approaches, especially from sectors outside your own familiar area of expertise.  Through this program, the Foundation will help Fellows test and improve their thinking with input from the Network, provide funding to concepts that seem most promising, and have Fellows share results and invite further feedback. Initial ideas are evaluated by staff and shared with the Switzer Network to generate further interest.

Network Innovation Grants can address any environmental issue(s), particularly those with specific targeted outcomes in science and policy.  All Switzer Fellows, current or past, are eligible to apply for Network Innovation funding through their own organizations or with a strategic organizational partner.  The proposed project must involve at least two Fellows, with one Fellow designated as project lead.  Fellows must engage the Switzer Network for feedback on, or involvement in, the project.

Although grant requests of up to $40,000 will be considered, this fund is most appropriate for smaller requests for seed projects and strategic initiatives. (See How to Apply for more information on procedures and deadlines.)  Sample Network Innovation ideas include:

  • Convene or collaborate with Fellows to address a specific environmental policy or technical challenge you or your organization are tackling.
  • Organize a panel of Fellows to present at a conference or other high-profile meeting.
  • Organize a group of Fellows to write a collaborative document (e.g., white paper); develop or enhance a website, video or podcast; develop a survey or other research tool; or develop curriculum and materials and conduct training for other Fellows.
  • Organize a Switzer Foundation study tour with tangible goals to examine a strategic issue that could benefit from Switzer Network input.

Recent Network Innovation Grants are described on our website.  Please refer to the Network Innovation Exchange for Network Innovation ideas currently under discussion.

Spotlight on Leadership

Averting Extinction / Brad Keitt
One of the key values of the Robert & Patricia Switzer Foundation is environmental stewardship. We seek to protect, improve, and sustain our natural environment for the well-being of people and the planet. Island Conservation, a Santa Cruz nonprofit with UC Santa Cruz roots, has saved 389 species from possible extinction on 52 islands around the world. 1997 Switzer Fellow Brad Keitt is the Director of Conservation. "It's incredibly rewarding," said Keitt. "I feel lucky to have a job where I am making a difference that is so immediate yet lasting."Read more >