Climate Corps training sets up the next generation of climate professionals for success now and in the future

As the world reckons with the increasingly dire effects of climate change, the need for a skilled workforce to address the litany of current and emerging challenges has become increasingly urgent. This demand has given rise to the “green skills gap,” which refers to the disparity between the skills required for a sustainable future and the skills possessed by the current workforce.

Since 2008, the Climate Corps fellowship program has addressed this problem by training talented, passionate graduate students and pairing them with custom-matched host organizations looking for a low-cost, low-risk way to advance their sustainability efforts.

Fellow training consists of two key components. First, all fellows independently complete a training series of recorded learning sessions and readings. Some content is required for all fellows, including introductory sessions on greenhouse gas accounting and on diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice principles. Throughout the program, our fellows are grouped into topical cohorts based on the type of project on which they will work with their host. The independent training includes learning sessions specific to each. For example, our fellows who work on animal agriculture projects will learn about Scope 3 emissions and corporate roadmapping for animal agriculture sustainability solutions. The goal of this first training series is to prepare fellows to dive deeper into the content during Training Week.

Training Week, which commences virtually in late May, is the heart of our fellow program. Training Week provides an opportunity for fellows to gain hands-on practice with essential topics such as greenhouse gas accounting, climate transition action planning, and applying equity and Just Transition concepts. Fellows dive deeper with cohort-specific workshops that include climate scenario analysis, supply chain action planning, energy management, and climate justice. Training Week also provides space for our fellows to begin building relationships with one another and with Climate Corps alumni who will serve as resources and a support structure during the summer and throughout their careers. Fellows who have graduated from the program have appreciated how their training distilled complex topics into digestible, practical sessions and noted that they walked away feeling much more prepared for their fellowships.

Training Week enhances our fellows’ topical knowledge and the confidence they will need for success in their fellowships and beyond.

The learning doesn’t stop with Training Week. Alongside their peers, fellows have the opportunity to participate in a series of cohort-based working sessions led by expert advisors throughout the summer. These sessions highlight the tools, methods, and practices of the field, providing space for fellows to refine their work and bolster their projects with expert insights. With frequent guest speakers from NGOs like Argonne National Laboratory, Electrification Coalition, and Material Innovation Initiative, and companies like Netflix, Macy’s, and National Grid, fellows learn how a wide variety of organizations are responding to the climate crisis and pursuing sustainability. The collective knowledge and experience of each cohort opens the potential for exciting collaborations across projects and organizations. By the end of the program, fellows not only deepen their projects through the working sessions but also build an intentional network of emerging sustainability professionals. And those professionals appreciated the talent with whom they worked, saying they valued the fellows’ fresh insights, good questions, and willingness to push the envelope on cutting-edge work.

The Climate Corps training program brings together the deep knowledge of EDF experts, highly-regarded corporate climate consultants, and sustainability practitioners – many of whom are Climate Corps alumni – to provide fellows a uniquely tailored learning experience that prepares them to make a big impact within their host organizations. Climate Corps takes great pride in training the next generation of climate professionals for success now and throughout their careers.