Mission, Vision & Values

Our Vision

Switzer Fellows are recognized leaders driving positive environmental change for the benefit of natural and human communities.

Our Mission

The Robert and Patricia Switzer Foundation identifies and nurtures environmental leaders who have the ability and determination to make a significant positive impact and supports initiatives that have direct and measurable results to improve environmental quality. The foundation accomplishes this by awarding academic fellowships and project grants, sponsoring professional development activities, and fostering a growing network of Switzer Fellows, environmental practitioners, and organizations.

Our Values

The Robert and Patricia Switzer Foundation holds the following values:

  • Belief in Individuals. We believe that talented and committed individuals from varied backgrounds can make a difference in this world and create positive change. With funding, training, and engaged networks and collaborations, individuals can achieve greater impact.
  • Environmental Stewardship. We seek to protect, improve, and sustain our natural environment for the well-being of people and the planet. Switzer Fellows use science, policy, and public engagement to advance environmental goals.
  • Sustainability. We recognize the urgency of living within our ecological and physical means and embrace holistic approaches that support and maintain the complexity and interconnectedness of natural and human systems.
  • Social Equity and Diversity. We believe environmental progress requires systemic approaches that include social equity and justice as a lens through which we evaluate success. Selecting fellows from a range of social, cultural, racial, and economic backgrounds as well as from varied expertise and professional sectors will build a stronger environmental field.
  • Systems Thinking and Problem Solving. How we define “environmental issues” continues to expand with the knowledge that they are always situated within a constellation of social, scientific, environmental, and economic issues. We believe that working at the intersection of a wide range of perspectives will yield innovative solutions.
  • Maximizing Impact. We seek to maximize positive environmental impact through individual and collective activities and leveraged grant resources. The foundation has an ongoing commitment to promote excellence, increase effectiveness, and adapt to changing needs and circumstances in the environmental field.

Renewing Our Vision

Throughout the Switzer Foundation’s history, we have sought to model exemplary environmental leadership through our programs and fellows’ work in the world. Switzer Fellows apply intersectional and multi-disciplinary approaches to improve environmental quality and advance social equity. In 2018, we updated our mission, vision, and values to elevate the importance of building the Switzer Network as an inclusive environmental community for leaders across race, class, culture, and gender so that all can find supportive pathways for success throughout their careers.

Program Strategies

The Switzer Foundation awards academic fellowships and project grants, supporting a continuum of environmental leadership from graduate school through professional careers, and nurturing a supportive and engaged network of leaders driving positive environmental change. 

The foundation’s core focus is centered on environmental leadership, graduate education, and a multi-disciplinary approach that supports a healthy environment through science, policy, and public engagement. To do so, we foster intersectional environmental work that integrates leadership, equity, and impact into all of our programs and grantmaking. 

Environmental Leadership

Switzer Fellows are leaders in science, policy, justice, health, economics, advocacy, planning, business, law and more, who draw upon applied research, policy, and action to solve environmental problems and advance social equity. The Switzer Foundation supports leaders who work on pressing environmental issues with an awareness of the systemic inequities that have created disproportionate environmental burdens on some communities. Intersectional approaches, collaborative problem-solving, and public engagement are defining leadership capacities for the future and the Switzer Foundation helps fellows grow these skills.


To achieve enduring environmental and social progress, we include social equity as a key lens for our grantmaking and a goal for leadership development programming in the Switzer Fellowship. Environmental leadership opportunities for traditionally underrepresented groups, including Black, Indigenous and students of color, students from low-income backgrounds, and first-generation college students, helps to address historical disadvantages and improve future environmental decision-making. Building social equity as an integral element of the Switzer Foundation’s programs enables our fellows, alumni and grantees to use their expertise, experience and positions to find intersectional approaches to improve environmental conditions for all.


The Switzer Foundation fosters a network of environmental leaders representing a broad spectrum of topics across sectors. We support environmental leaders who are doing applied work, are willing to engage affected communities and constituencies, and who are committed to developing their personal leadership, policy engagement, and communication skills to solve environmental problems. Switzer Fellows individually and collectively use their positions, leadership, and partnerships with one another to create positive environmental and social impact at all scales from grassroots to global.