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Drexel’s Environmental Collaboratory Receives Waverly Street Foundation National Climate Hub Grant

March 23, 2023

Mathy Vathanaraj Stanislaus, JD, vice provost and executive director of The Environmental Collaboratory.

Drexel University’s Environmental Collaboratory received a Climate Hubs Learning Partner grant from the Waverley Street Foundation to support its work in community-based climate solutions. The $2 million grant will fund resources to bring together faculty, professional staff, students, industry partners and the public sector to pursue transdisciplinary, community-driven solutions to environmental problems.

The Environmental Collaboratory and other grant partners will work closely with farmers, students, investors, Indigenous peoples, advocates, and many others to make change and advance equitable climate strategies.

"Receiving this substantial grant from the Waverley Street Foundation is an affirmation of the importance of the Environmental Collaboratory’s vision – which is to align the expertise of faculty, researchers and students with the expertise of our community partners,” said Mathy Vathanaraj Stanislaus, JD,  vice provost and executive director of the Collaboratory. “Together we will develop locally driven, replicable and environmentally just climate solutions.

The Waverley Street Foundation partners with organizations around the world to advance climate efforts grounded in the day-to-day lives of people and communities, that build on foundations of equity and justice, and that respond to the growing challenges of those living on the frontlines of climate change.

Building on Drexel’s strengths, the grant will help the Environmental Collaboratory anchor leaders of a national “climate hub” convened by the Waverly Street Foundation, to develop effective models and partnerships between universities and community-based organizations.

“Waverley Street Foundation’s investment in The Environmental Collaboratory offers us the opportunity to advance the Strategic Plan and harness applied research, student engagement, and partnership to solve our world’s most pressing and complex climate and environmental challenges,” said Executive Vice President and Nina Henderson Provost Paul Jensen, PhD.

Together, the Environmental Collaboratory and the Waverley Street Foundation have developed three initiatives in support of its “climate hub” model:

Community-Based Experiential Learning Projects

The Environmental Collaboratory will work with a cohort of community-based organizations to help develop a locally driven climate plan that will address long-standing issues of environmental justice and economic development. Drexel faculty and student researchers will work with community leaders and constituents to identify a set of priority issues and document future research needs. The Collaboratory will then work with the community-based organizations to build their networks and coordinate communication campaigns aimed at policymakers and funders (government and private) that can inform future spending and policy development. This outreach plan will be equity-centered and responsive to the concerns of the community.

Transdisciplinary Research Grants

The Collaboratory will administer grants across Drexel designed to support early stage and/or non-traditional sponsored research. The results from the grants  will inform opportunities for investment and leverage its resources across   climate and sustainability issues. The grants will create cross-disciplinary innovation emerging from new collaborations with community partners and help cultivate a cohort of faculty, students, professional staff, and external partner investigators to affirm its commitment to generating knowledge that is implementable, repeatable and scalable.

Pennsylvania Climate Initiative

The Collaboratory will work with external partners, including NGOs and experienced practitioners, to establish a climate transition implementation program for the Commonwealth.

This initiative will identify climate implementation practices that can be adapted and implemented for the diversity of communities in Pennsylvania and can serve as models that can be replicated throughout the country.  These models will span physical infrastructure, policy and financing. The Collaboratory will serve as the academic and research arm of this initiative to provide expertise and education to government officials and facilitate the engagement of community residents with an emphasis on underserved communities and those most vulnerable to climate change.

Recognizing the critical importance of being able to measure both impact and evaluate degrees of success from the viewpoint of community partners, students, researchers, policy makers and funders, the Collaboratory has developed a robust evaluation and assessment model that will be led by faculty advisors, the Student Leadership Council on Climate and Sustainability and an Advisory Council. The grant provides dedicated funds for this robust evaluation and assessment model.

To foster oversight and advice, TEC will establish faculty liaisons and an Advisory Council of representatives from Drexel and the ANS, along with external representatives from community-based organizations, regional planning organizations, and the private sector.  In addition, TEC plans to formalize the roles of faculty liaisons to inform mechanisms for the participation of faculty and students.