Grantmaking Approach

The foundation’s grantmaking approach centers on the Switzer Environmental Fellowship as our core strategy for investing in environmental leaders. Each year, twenty Switzer Fellows are selected from graduate schools in New England and California to receive the fellowship based on their leadership accomplishments, leadership potential, and commitment to environmental protection, innovation and applied outcomes. Click here for the detailed criteria for the Switzer Environmental Fellowship.

The focus on graduate students is strategically important because the fellowship offers more than the cash award for academic study. It also offers leadership development trainings, access to other grant support, mentoring, coaching and networking with colleagues across a wide range of environmental topics, professional sectors and geographic interests. Although the fellowship is only available for individuals attending graduate schools in New England and California, once fellows graduate, the follow-on grant programs such as the Leadership Grant, Network Innovation Grants and the Professional Development Fund are available to them regardless of where they live and work.

We know that Switzer Fellows are leaders whose professional development needs will evolve over time, and so our investments in training, convening and networking cut across specific issue interests and career tracks. We aim to support fellows expressing their leadership, whether they are doing applied research in an academic setting or working as an advocate or policy analyst. We want to cultivate leaders who are collaborative, cross-disciplinary, conscious of social equity considerations, and who communicate effectively to achieve results. The Switzer Fellowship Network includes all current fellows and fellowship alumni, and is a dynamic association of environmental professionals working in all sectors. Foundation grant programs aim to cultivate cross-disciplinary problem-solving among fellows and environmental colleagues. The network stimulates learning about diverse perspectives within environmental fields, and strategic actions in research, policy and practice. We maintain close contact with all fellows and design our programs to match their growing needs as leaders.

Since 1986, the fellowship program has awarded more than 650 fellowships. Our fellows are experts who are innovative problem-solvers and visionaries for a sustainable environmental future for all of us.

Spotlight on Leadership

Watching the Weather with Daniel Swain
Fellow Daniel Swain's research focuses on the causes of persistent patterns in the atmosphere—like the ones that cause drought or exceptional rain in California—and how climate change might be affecting them. In his spare time, the 25-year-old Marin native runs the California Weather Blog (weatherwest.com), a must-read for weather nerds where he comments on statewide weather patterns and their big-picture causes. He’s also the one who gave the name “Ridiculously Resilient Ridge” to the pattern that’s being blamed for our three years of drought.Read more >

A vibrant community of environmental leaders