Apply for a K-12 Leaders in Sustainability Fellowship

Published on: 
7 Aug 2020
Phoebe Beierle

Sustainability professionals working for change in K–12 schools are important assets to our communities. Focusing on environmental impact, health and wellness, and sustainability literacy, these leaders improve both school buildings and the teaching and learning experience each day, and the resulting work to connect schools with surrounding communities promotes equity and justice. It is common, however, for these professionals to lack supportive networks, access to best practice resources, and the time or funding to develop their own leadership skills.

The Center for Green Schools at USGBC designed the Leaders in Sustainability Fellowship program to support these influential champions. The fellowship will enable outstanding, early-career K–12 sustainability staff access to a peer-to-peer network, plus professional development, targeted education and technical support. By providing these individuals with an opportunity to build leadership skills and technical capacity early in their careers, we can further our goals of achieving green schools for all students.

The Leaders in Sustainability Fellowship program is a redesign of the School District Scholarship program, which ran from 2014 to 2019. While the program benefits are similar, the new fellowship will provide resources to specific individuals (versus districts) and will serve early-career professionals who have fewer than six years of experience.  

Throughout their fellowship year, Leaders in Sustainability Fellows will:

  • Collaborate as a team to share and learn about sustainability best practices
  • Participate in professionally led trainings on the topics of communications, social equity and whole-school sustainability
  • Develop new leadership skills by reading and reflecting on various texts
  • Attend professional events such as the Center for Green Schools' annual School Sustainability Leaders Summit and Green Schools Conference and Expo
  • Receive sustainability management support and coaching

The 2020–2021 Leaders in Sustainability Fellowship application is open through August 28, 2020.

Benefits of the fellowship

The Leaders in Sustainability Fellowship is a yearlong position for existing sustainability staff. The fellowship is unpaid, but fellows will receive the following in-kind benefits. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all professional development opportunities are anticipated to be virtual.

  • Virtual attendance for the fellow and one colleague at the 2021 Green Schools Conference and Expo (Spring 2021)
  • Virtual attendance for the fellow at the annual School Sustainability Leaders Summit (Spring 2021)
  • Paid registration at a sustainability-related conference or leadership training of the fellow's choice, with some limitations
  • Personalized training delivered by industry experts on topics such as effective communications, courageous leadership, and diversity, equity and inclusion
  • Ongoing technical assistance and personalized connections to industry resources
  • Personal and small-group coaching
  • Limited complimentary yearlong access to several resources from USGBC, including Learning Lab, the Green Classroom Professional Certificate, Arc, [email protected], and LEED Coaching for school building projects.

Minimum requirements

The Leaders in Sustainability Fellowship is available to early-career K–12 staff who are dedicated to carrying out sustainability programs and policies. Candidates must spend at least 50% of their time on sustainability-related efforts and must have fewer than six years of experience in their role. To determine if staff time is currently dedicated to sustainability, follow the definition of green schools described in the “three pillars”: reduced environmental impact, positive impact on student and teacher health, and improved environmental literacy.

Active members and nonmembers of the School Sustainability Leaders Network are welcome to apply, although involvement with the network will be viewed favorably. Applicants from private schools are encouraged to apply, but you must be able to show that you are leading sustainability programs at the system level, versus just the individual school level.

The application includes a required signed letter from school district leadership. The fellow must gain approval from their employer to participate in the fellowship, including a commitment to support the following:

  1. The fellow will spend at least 50% of their time on sustainability-related initiatives during the fellowship year
  2. The fellow will dedicate time to participating in professional and leadership development programs (approximately four hours per month)
  3. The fellow will have time to attend a conference of their choice and the Center for Green Schools' annual conference and summit remotely, in spring 2021

Learn more and apply

The 2020–2021 Leaders in Sustainability Fellowship application is open through Friday, Aug. 28 by 8 p.m. ET. Keep in mind that the application does require a signed letter of support from your supervisor or school district leadership.

The five fellows will be announced in early September, and a kickoff training will be held in late September or early October. The fellowship will last a year from the start date.

Note that from 2010 to 2016, the Center for Green Schools ran a Green Schools Fellowship program that supported the formation of new, full-time, district-level sustainability positions.

If you have questions or want to learn more about the Leaders in Sustainability Fellowship, please contact Phoebe Beierle at 202.792.9339 or by email.

Apply for the fellowship