Network Innovation grants

This program is currently suspended, please contact us for more information.

As an engaged community of environmental leaders working across sectors and disciplines, the Switzer Network offers many possibilities for collaborative problem-solving. 

Network Innovation grants seek to tap the network’s collective potential for innovation and action to solve today’s complex environmental issues. This program supports impactful environmental projects that start with sharing ideas among network members.

Network Innovation grants support teams of fellows working together to advance current environmental issues through convenings, shared learning, pilot projects, and policy applications. Fellows must share their proposed idea with the Switzer Network and incorporate feedback from network members to be considered. Upon completion of a project, grant recipients share results and invite further feedback from the network. Our goal is for this iterative process to catalyze collaborations within the network and encourage breakthrough interdisciplinary approaches to environmental improvement. 

Although Network Innovation grants can address any environmental issue, we are particularly interested in those with immediate and actionable applications to policy and practice. All Switzer Fellows, current or alumni, are eligible to apply through their own organizations or with a strategic organizational partner. Preference is given to creative projects that truly engage fellows across issues, disciplines, or sectors. Projects must involve at least two fellows, with one fellow and organization designated as project lead. Fellows must engage the Switzer Network for feedback on or involvement in the project. 

Grants of up to $20,000 are available. Grant requests up to $5,000 are considered on a rolling basis with rapid decision times; requests between $5,000 - $20,000 will be considered quarterly. (See How to Apply below for more information on application procedures and deadlines.)

Sample network innovation ideas include:

  • Create a resource to support organizational change. For example, three fellows developed an open-source accessible toolkit, Become a JEDI Master, for Switzer Fellows and other environmental practitioners seeking to further individual and organizational understanding of the principles of justice, equity, diversity and inclusion. 
  • Convene a working group to address a focused, actionable, and policy-relevant research gap. For example, fellows planned and hosted a working group meeting to discuss phalarope (tiny migratory shorebirds) biology and threats and identify steps forward for conservation. The meeting brought together 30 stakeholders from 5 countries to share their passion and knowledge, identify major data gaps, and formalize an ongoing International Pharalope Working Group
  • Organize a panel of fellows to present new research or policy recommendations at a conference or other high-profile meeting. For example, a group of fellows led a convening among leaders of disadvantaged communities seeking to improve California state policy providing equitable access and funding for water infrastructure projects. The convening resulted in policy recommendations presented to the California Department of Water Resources.
  • Collaborate with fellows to address a specific challenge in environmental policy or practice with a clear dissemination plan and target audience. For example, Switzer Fellows collaborated with the nongovernmental organization Earthworks to write a report on the handling of fracking wastewater in areas of the Marcellus Shale. The research was shared with policymakers in those states and among activists working to regulate fracking across the country
Explore more fellow collaborations

Who Can Apply

All Switzer Fellows, current and alumni, are eligible for Network Innovation grant funding. Fellows must work with a partner organization that can accept foundation funding as a U.S.-based organization with 501(c)(3) status. The organization can be the employer of one of the fellows or a strategic partner organization working with the fellows on the issue and able to act as fiscal agent for the grant funds.

How to Apply