Since there are no currently active contests, we have switched Climate CoLab to read-only mode.
Learn more at
Skip navigation
Share via:


SCA Sustainability Fellows fight climate change with high returns across government, business, residential, and educational insitutions.



Since 2008 the Student Conservation Association (SCA) has partnered with all four sectors represented by the Pittsburgh Climate Initiative (PCI) to successfully overcome barriers to climate action plan (CAP) implementation by bringing trained capacity to scale up solutions. The PCI partnership brings together local government, business, residential, higher education, and expert capacity providers to reduce Pittsburgh's greenhouse gas emissions.  As a collaborative across sectors, the program partnership has completed or holds in progress 75% (93 of 124) of the Pittsburgh Climate Action Plan recommendations. SCA Sustainability Fellows provide on the ground capacity to implement recommendations.

SCA empowers youth and young adults to take immediate action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to build climate resiliency in our communities.  SCA Sustainability Fellows go on to careers across the nation with 85% of participants employed in their field immediately after the fellowship program, and nearly all continuing to serve in conservation and sustainability for years after their service to fighting climate change.

This proposal seeks to build a case for partnership-based climate action plan achievement while addressing a main barrier to climate mitigation: capacity.  Through measurable project outcomes, SCA  builds collaborative success with local climate action plans by enabling youth leadership.  SCA's Sustainability Fellows are the capacity to scale up projects in regional climate change programming.

Category of action

Youth Leadership on Climate Change

What actions do you propose?

SCA Sustainability Fellows bring capacity to implement local climate action plans.  In the Pittsburgh region, SCA Sustainability Fellows lead projects that produce measurable conservation outcomes across energy, water, waste, and transportation impacts.

SCA Fellows provide households with conservation tools; Fellows manage a regional business competition called the Green Workplace Challenge; they coordinate volunteers and educate youth; they install stormwater management infrastructure; they provide top to bottom small business sustainability assessments; they manage energy competitions for local college campuses; they engage K-12 schools in a wide range of sustainability actions and metrics; they stage e-waste collections; they reclaim vacant lots as urban gardens and plant trees to moderate the heat island effect; they engage commuter behavior change; and at the core of the SCA Sustainability Fellows' work is being the trained capacity to implement local climate action plans.

Who will take these actions?

Partners collaborating with SCA Sustainability Fellows include local government leaders, non-profits that collaborate with businesses, corporate sustainability officers seeking project capacity, non-profits that engage issue-based projects for residential and community action on climate change, university sustainability coordinators, and all organizations seeking capacity for their sustainability and climate change programs.

What are other key benefits?

In just 2013, SCA’s Sustainability Fellows placed across PCI projects served nearly 20,000 hours to achieve: nearly 8 million pounds in CO2e reductions; 1.7 million gallons of water conserved; 16.3 million kWh reduced; 957 households reached; over 800 trees planted; 12,000 commuters reached; 250 local government representatives trained; and 5,510 citizens engaged.  

“ The SCA Green Cities Fellows are the heart, soul, and sweat behind the Pittsburgh Climate Initiative; it wouldn’t be nearly as active without them.”  – Aurora L. Sharrard, Green Building Alliance

“ The Green Cities Fellowship program is critical to our ability to run The Black and Gold City Goes Green campaign. Without the work of these talented young professionals, we would not have the resources we need to carry out this multifaceted campaign.” – Evan Endres, PennFuture

What are the proposal’s costs?

Costs for a Sustainability Fellow are a very competitive staffing option for trained, expertly supported capacity for climate action.  The ROI for a Fellow is demonstrated through measurable project outcomes, examples included above.

Time line

Outcomes produced by SCA Sustainability Fellows are measured monthly and reported on an annual basis; a snapshot of just 2013 outcomes is provided above.  Year on year outcomes show strong progress in climate mitigation through SCA's partnership with local climate action plan implementation.

Related proposals