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Conference scholarships bring more diversity to climate conversation

2018 conference climate scholarship

CCL’s 2018 June Lobby Day

By Flannery Winchester

Those of us who are alarmed about climate change come from all walks of life, political perspectives and cultural backgrounds, but historically, some groups have been edged out of the environmental discussion. To widen the circle and ensure that more people have a seat at the table, CCL offers scholarship opportunities for volunteers to attend our annual conference: the Diversity Scholarship, open to people of color, and Conservative Scholarship, open to people politically right of center.

Alfonso Saldana, diversity climate scholarship

Alfonso Saldaña (left) lobbied in Washington, D.C., with fellow CCL volunteers

This is the second year of the scholarship program, and some past recipients offered their thoughts on the program. “I can’t stress enough how helpful the scholarship was for me,” said Alfonso Saldaña, a volunteer from Brownsville, Texas. The program “provid[ed] me with the opportunity to exercise my political right of meeting with my elected officials—a right that sadly has become scarce to anyone without the economic means to achieve.”

For Solemi Hernandez, a volunteer from Naples, Florida, the scholarship provided a springboard for her to bring more attention to her community’s climate impacts. “I got to be part of a forum on environmental justice,” she said. “I got to talk about low income communities directly affected by climate change during Hurricane Irma, which I am part of, and how we got help to farm workers from Immokalee who couldn’t claim FEMA [assistance] because of their immigration status.”

Grace Chun, Dr. Barbara Love, climate scholarship

Grace Chun (right) pictured with Dr. Barbara Love, CCL Advisory Board member and seminar leader at CCL’s June 2018 conference

Grace Chun, a student at Duke University in North Carolina, said of the scholarship program, “I can go as far to say it was the biggest factor for my ability to attend. I hope many more students could benefit from it in the future!”

How the program works

Applicants can apply for $250 or $500 stipends, depending on their anticipated travel expenses to this summer’s conference. The Diversity Scholarship is generously funded by a $5,000 grant from the Joseph Robert Foundation. CCL matched that with an additional $5,000 from our operating budget to create the Conservative Scholarship. Both scholarships are open to people 18 and up who are new to CCL or who are already volunteers. Scholarship applications are open now and close March 31, and all recipients will be notified by or on April 12. Anyone who receives a scholarship will also have their conference registration fee waived. (So, applicants, you can wait to register until you’ve heard back about your application! We’ll make sure you have a spot.)

Karina Ramirez, one of CCL’s Diversity Outreach Coordinators and leader of the Latinos Action Team, said, “I think members of color have a lot to contribute to CCL. Getting the necessary training, education, and now financial support says a lot about where CCL wants to go and what it wants to accomplish in the future.”

CCL Conservative Director Jim Tolbert also weighed in, saying the Conservative Scholarship “reinforces CCL’s commitment to a bipartisan approach that constantly works to bring people together to solve climate change instead of divide people over other issues.”

Now accepting applications

If you or someone you know is a fit for either of these scholarships and would benefit from the financial support, apply today!

2019 Diversity Scholarship application

2019 Conservative Scholarship application

Just fill out the appropriate form, which includes identifying a “sponsor” within CCL who will provide you support and guidance after the conference is over. This could be someone in your chapter, or we can help you identify one.

For questions about the scholarship program or support with the application process, contact CCL Project Specialist Morgan McCue.

Flannery Winchester has put her words to work for magazines, for marketing agencies, and now for our earth as CCL's Communications Director. She is grateful to spend every day working to preserve this beautiful planet.