1545: The Pisces Foundation Blog

Welcome to your source for Pisces Foundation updates and insights from our trustees & staff.

Here we will share news from the critical intersection of philanthropy and the environment, as well as highlight innovative initiatives and programs from our grantees & colleagues.

Climate & Energy: Investing in a Safe & Stable Climate for All

Last year, I started blogging more regularly about how our Foundation, as well as the environmental movement, can best make progress to ensure that people and nature can thrive together. My intent is to share more about our Foundation and its programs and, just as important, the perspectives that inform our goals and approaches. My two previous blogs went deeper into two of our three programs, Environmental Education and Water, and now I want to complete the circuit by delving into the strategy and thinking behind our Climate and Energy Program. This also gives me a chance to discuss a key theme that animates our approach and intention across programs—investing in important environmental issues that haven’t received funding attention commensurate with their significance. We want our work to be integrated but additive to existing environmental protection efforts. This goal is an overall North Star for the Pisces Foundation because we think it will yield the biggest impact.

We have tried to take this approach in how we’re helping reduce climate change, one of the most consequential issues of our time. While many funders are in the mix, as my colleagues have pointed out, more are needed given the scale of the challenge.

Nevertheless, when our Trustees and I began exploring priorities, it wasn’t immediately obvious where we could make the biggest difference. We considered different frameworks that might define our work.  Adopt an urban lens? Boost clean energy solutions? Two simple but powerful facts brought our current direction into focus: multiple pollutants are driving climate change, and reducing all of them aggressively can deliver the best climate and health dividends. Because the Pisces Foundation could play a needed, unfilled role by bolstering critical reductions of carbon dioxide with deep cuts of the other pollutants driving climate change, we knew we found our lane.

That is why our Climate and Energy Program funds efforts to cut emissions of four important but often overlooked climate “super pollutants”—black carbon, methane, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), and ground-level ozone. Each is a powerful contributor to global warming. These super pollutants are collectively known as short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) because they have a relatively short lifetime in the atmosphere—a few days to a few decades, compared to carbon dioxide, which lingers for much longer. But “short-lived” goes together with “fast-acting” and “extra-potent”; SLCPs have an outsized warming effect on our near-term climate. Reducing these pollutants now can create an immediate impact on the warming we are already experiencing, boost the overall effort to solve the global climate crisis, and protect the health of people and communities around the world.

We know how we can make meaningful headway in a variety of ways. For example, if we reduce black carbon from vehicle tailpipes through measures like adopting clean fuels, we have the potential to reduce warming while helping to prevent more than two million premature deaths each year from outdoor air pollution. That’s one reason the Pisces Foundation is supporting work on the ground by the International Council on Clean Transportation and others, to shift to clean fuels and put filters on trucks and buses.

Momentum is also building to implement technologies to reduce methane pollution that leaks from oil and gas infrastructure. Countries, including Canada and Mexico, and many U.S. states are considering or already have protections that not only stop waste of a valuable product, natural gas, but also improve the climate. Some states, like California, continue to push for the reductions of methane emissions, despite the Trump Administration’s attempts to weaken federal efforts. These actions show how important it is to reign in emissions of a pollutant that, pound for pound, is about 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide over a twenty-year period.

Global efforts to cut HFCs found in air-conditioning are also bearing fruit. The amendment to the Montreal Protocol adopted by more than 140 nations in Kigali, Rwanda, in October 2016 will accelerate the phase-out of some of the most potent super climate gases. Pisces’ grantees like the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development and the Natural Resources Defense Council helped educate the world about the possibility of avoiding up to 0.5 degrees Celsius of warming by the end of the century by phasing down HFCs. Now, the world must follow through and implement the Kigali Amendment with cleaner, more energy-efficient cooling technologies, something that civil society organizations are working to accomplish.

All told, a recent analysis shows that reducing the emissions of super pollutants can slow down the warming expected by as much as 1.2 degrees Celsius by the end of the century. This is not enough to solve our climate crisis. But, added to quicker, sharper reductions in carbon dioxide, and potentially other measures, it’s a big and critical piece of the puzzle.

The faster we start to reduce all of the pollutants driving climate change, the more likely we are to have the safe, stable climate our communities need to stay healthy, vibrant places. We are proud to support our grantees working every day to make this happen.



(1) Photo credit: Adapted from Climate & Clean Air Coalition
(2) Photo credit: Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation
(3) Photo credit: International Institute for Sustainable Development

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Investigating Nature After School

Like many of us in the environmental education field, my childhood experiences in nature (for me, it was the Rocky Mountains) have charted the course of my life. These building blocks truly fueled my life’s work of ensuring that every child has access to the many benefits of nature.

Suzi Taylor is another professional like me, dedicated to providing kids with transformative environmental educational opportunities because of nature’s powerful impact on their own childhood (for Suzi, it was growing up and exploring in rural Illinois). Today, Suzi focuses on developing education programs at Montana State University that engage rural, remote communities whose children don’t often have access to life-changing educational opportunities, especially environmental education.

Enter Science Action Club developed by the California Academy of Sciences. The clubs provide interactive, environmental education experiences for middle schoolers in an afterschool setting. Through fun activities and projects, kids investigate their local environment and use technology to engage with fellow citizen scientists across the United States.

In less than a year, Suzi has founded 40 Science Action Clubs as part of the Montana Girls STEM Collaborative. With Science Action Club, Suzi has seen girls fully engaged as they upload bird observations to an app that sends the information directly to bird biologists. She’s taken kids to Yellowstone National Park for the first time, a place that felt far removed even though they lived only a short distance away. And she’s seen kids personally make the connection between people and nature as they’ve conducted experiments on the effect of oil spills on bird feathers.

Research backs up what Suzi and I have experienced firsthand. As the Pisces Foundation President, David Beckman, said in his last blog post about environmental education, environmental education bestows a wider range of benefits. Environmental education fuels interest in science and sparks the curiosity that makes kids better learners, including in math and the language arts. Environmental learning sticks with kids more than traditional learning. It also improves health and wellness, because play outdoors improves children’s mental and physical healthEnvironmental education strengthens children’s self-esteem, leadership, and character, and enhances social justice by leveling the playing field across genders and ethnicities. In short, environmental education adds tremendous value to the lives of young people whether in a classroom, a canoe, or anywhere in between.

Science Action Club participants in Montana conduct an experiment with feathers.


We’re thrilled that more and more states, communities, and schools are tapping into the terrific benefits that environmental education offers. Pisces is proud to support programs like the California Academy of Sciences’ Science Action Club, knowing that educators like Suzi Taylor embrace them.  We believe that equipping kids with environmental know-how and a life-long connection to nature will empower them to make smarter decisions that will lead to stronger communities and a healthier planet. And even to careers like Suzi’s and mine.



(1) Photo credit: California Academy of Sciences
(2) Photo credit: Montana State University Academic Technology and Outreach


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Environmental Education: A Strategy for Today & Tomorrow’s World

When I was a young boy, I went to a school outside of Philadelphia where part of nearly every day found me running in the woods that ringed campus, playing in a creek, and basking in nature. These experiences imprinted vivid memories that, four decades later, I can recall easily as I write this in my office in a San Francisco skyscraper.

Just east of here, our trustee Randi Fisher’s connection to the environment was kindled growing up in Sacramento, California, where she spent time fishing and enjoying the open spaces of California’s Central Valley with her family.

Looking back, I’m convinced those experiences shaped the trajectory of my life and career, making the environment integral to who I am, what I do, and what I care about. I know Randi feels the same way about her time outdoors.

These experiences carry over to the Pisces Foundation. What enriched Randi and me when we were kids can make a difference for all who are fortunate to spend time in nature. Environmental education teaches children, from the earliest ages, to be good stewards of our environment. While it doesn’t tell young people how to think, environmental education does teach kids to be better-informed members of their community.

But environmental education also bestows a wider range of benefits. We know now that environmental learning sticks with kids more than traditional learning, fuels interest in science, and sparks the curiosity that makes kids better learners, including in math and the language arts. It also improves health and wellness, because play outdoors improves children’s mental and physical health. Environmental education strengthens children’s self-esteem, leadership, and character, and enhances social justice by leveling the playing field across genders and ethnicities.

Because of this powerful set of attributes, at the Pisces Foundation we want to help make environmental education part of children’s everyday experience. We believe that, together with partners, we can help systematically stitch together and elevate the work being conducted in the environmental education field. The result over time: improved environmental literacy across the country.

Under the leadership of senior program officer Jason Morris, a former environmental educator himself and a field leader, we are pursuing this goal by bolstering the stature of the environmental education field as a whole and strengthening each part of it, from formal in-school education to after-school programs, from basic research to new policy initiatives. Jason works closely with program associate Kaylee Mulligan, who brings to our work her experience in multiple organizations working to build environmental know-how.

On the school campus, we seek out model programs that can be scaled nationally—such as green schoolyards and cutting-edge citizen science platforms fueling environmental education-rich learning in and out of the classroom.

There’s also an opportunity to bolster the many existing programs that provide environmentally focused after-school activities, school field trips, service learning, and summer camps, all of which offer great venues for high-quality environmental education. Focusing on middle and high school, the Pisces Foundation funds professional development efforts that “teach the teachers” to strengthen the quality of programs offered.

Professional development does not occur in a vacuum. Like many important efforts in the field, it can be shaped best by strong, science-based research. That’s why the Pisces Foundation is supporting academic research at major universities and efforts to summarize and make existing research more accessible to practitioners.

Most states, aware of an impressive body of existing research and seeing the benefits of environmental education described above, have completed environmental literacy plans (ELPs). ELPs do at a state level what our Foundation seeks to do across the field: power environmental learning by stitching together existing and new efforts so that the sum of the parts exceeds the whole. We are supporting educators and others who are working to implement these plans from California through the South to the Mid-Atlantic states on the East Coast.

Beyond increasing the quality and quantity of environmental education for all young people in the U.S., the Pisces Foundation also helps develop the environmental education field by bringing more funders together to support it through the Blue Sky Funders Forum. We launched this endeavor three years ago to promote greater visibility and increased funding for equitable and inclusive environmental education for all young people.

All of our efforts come down to this: when kids gain the environmental know-how they need to thrive in our rapidly changing world, we’ll see smarter decisions, stronger communities, and daily actions that improve their well-being and our planet. In short, we’ll get closer to our Foundation’s vision of people and nature thriving together.

I didn’t know I’d be a part of this effort when, during school recess, my friends and I were jumping from stone to stone in Ridley Creek. But there’s something fitting about it, just the same.



(1) Photo credit: Ten Strands
(2) Photo credit: Chesapeake Bay Foundation
(3) Photo credit: BEETLES
(4) Photo credit: Student Conservation Association

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Clean Water for All—the Water Protection Movement You’ve Been Waiting For

As a young girl growing up on the banks of the South River in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, I had easy access to swimming in clean water, boating, tubing, fishing, skipping rocks, and feeding the ducks—all pastimes that Americans have enjoyed for generations. As a child, I only knew water as fun, but it is so much more than that.

Water is essential to life and to the health and well-being of every plant and animal on the planet, including humans. It is difficult to overstate its importance, but nevertheless we tend to take it for granted—until it is depleted or contaminated. As Ben Franklin said, “When the well’s run dry, we know the worth of water.”

South River in the Shenandoah Valley (1)

At the Pisces Foundation, we know well the worth of water and support efforts to unite people around our shared commitment to safe, clean, affordable water. We believe that new thinking, technologies, and ready-to-go solutions can provide us with safe water from every tap, farms that grow food without polluting waterways, cities strengthened by cleaner lakes and rivers, and enough water for both people and nature.

Our waterways are at risk and threaten clean, safe, and abundant water for all communities, today and into the future. However, there are promising efforts to turn the tide.

One of the efforts we support, the Clean Water for All Campaign, is hard at work building the coalition for water resource protection we want and need to provide clean and safe water for all communities. Created in 2017, the campaign seeks to build a broad, diverse, national movement to drive change around the shared causes of:

    • Defending and expanding clean water protections;
    • Expanding investment in sustainable, equitable water infrastructure; and
    • Reducing nutrient pollution for positive public health outcomes and stronger ecosystems.

This campaign is broad and inclusive. It includes not just environmentalists and outdoor enthusiasts, but also people working on social justice, public and community health, sustainable businesses, labor, and faith-based issues. A broad coalition of all parties with a stake in this fight is critical to advocating for the key protections we want and need.

Over the course of the last 45 years, since the creation of the Clean Water Act in 1972, protections have been adopted with fair public involvement to ensure the safety of drinking water flowing out of taps in our homes and schools, protect the clean water sources used to keep commerce and industry productive in our communities, and recharge natural water resources for ecosystems and our collective enjoyment.

Yet programs that protect water bodies, large and small across the nation, are now in danger of being eliminated and legal protections for those waters are being rolled back. Even the most iconic waters—the Great Lakes, Puget Sound, Chesapeake Bay, Gulf of Mexico, San Francisco Bay, Lake Champlain, Long Island Sound, and the Everglades—are not immune to these threats.

The Great Lakes, Puget Sound, and Chesapeake Bay (2)

Recognizing that resource priorities vary geographically, the Clean Water for All Campaign is flexible and adaptable, with clear regional and local benefits, in addition to its national policy goals. The campaign is working to:

    • Reduce the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico, the largest ever measured
    • Minimize toxic algal blooms in Lake Erie that destroy fisheries and threaten drinking water sources
    • Restore depleted groundwater supplies in the West and Midwest
    • Clean contaminated drinking water in our cities
    • Support strong protections at the federal level as well as the local level to address these threats to our nation’s health, livelihood, and security

Clean Water for All is built on the values and vision for the future that Americans share. Clean, safe, abundant water is essential to our economy, to our quality of life, and to the health of our communities and the natural world.

At the Pisces Foundation, we are proud to support Clean Water for All’s goal of ensuring everyone in the U.S. has access to safe, clean water. The Clean Water for All Campaign represents a major undertaking by a diverse group of stakeholders to begin the process of creating a national movement of the breath and magnitude needed to overcome the challenges of today and those to come.

To form the diverse coalition we need, we must be willing to coalesce, to learn about each other’s needs, and unite for a common end. As the oceanographer Sylvia Earle famously said, “Without blue, there is no green.” To live and grow requires safe, clean, and abundant water. We must act now to ensure future access to this most important resource, using the best talents, tools, and resources we have to protect our waters against all threats. This important work will help ensure that people and nature can indeed thrive together.



(1) Photo credits: Shenandoah River Tubing and NBC29
(2) Photo credits: Lake Superior (Bryan Hansel)Puget Sound (ECOconnect), and Chesapeake Bay (Washingtonian)

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Water: A Key to Our Collective Future

Water impacts each of us in the full dimension of our lives—as individuals who depend on it for sustenance and who may like to swim or fish, in our work occupations, and as members of our communities interested in the welfare of our families and neighbors. Water is not just personal, however. Where it is, and where it is not—and how that dynamic is changing—is one of the keys to our connected and collective future.

Despite water’s importance to each and all of us, as a society we have not invested in the solutions that will enable us as a nation to keep up with the challenges water resources face today—population growth, aging infrastructure, loss of natural vegetation, pollution from farm fields and from cities, all made more challenging by climate change. That is why when we started the Pisces Foundation, the question we wrestled with was not whether to make water one of our focus areas. Rather, the question was: given its importance and complexity, how do we best tackle it?

As a water advocate before I took the reins at the Pisces Foundation, I saw first-hand an evolution in the water community, one that is still emerging but gaining momentum. Where water management once focused narrowly on each aspect of water—its quality, for example, separate from its quantity—the best approaches today manage it holistically with interventions that drive broader and more equitable benefits. The transformation brewing today reminds me of the wisdom in the great conservationist John Muir’s observation: “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.”

We seek clean and plentiful water, today and tomorrow. (1)

The most important action we can take today to ensure safe and sufficient water across the country is to advance these integrated, more powerful approaches to water management, moving them from the periphery to the center of policy and investment. This is what the Pisces Foundation’s Water Program is focused on: catalyzing a shift away from a system that manages water quality and water supply in isolation toward “smart water”—new integrated and innovative approaches that foster more resilient communities, healthier rivers, streams, and lakes, and a stronger economy.

Take U.S cities, where eighty percent of us live, and where the Pisces Foundation is making investments across the country. For a century or more, U.S. cities, like Los Angeles, managed freshwater and wastewater needs as if they were disconnected, missing huge opportunities. For example, as the rainy season begins in California, Los Angeles will discharge billions of gallons of contaminated storm water out to sea. Meanwhile, it imports enormous quantities of freshwater, creating negative impacts throughout the West. But now the Los Angeles region is developing plans to green cityscapes so that stormwater seeps into the ground instead of running off into the ocean. If implemented at scale, this effort could improve drought preparedness, reduce pollution and upstream environmental impacts, and create a source of water sufficient to supply a large portion of its annual needs.

What can work in Los Angeles do to improve urban water management across the U.S.? The heartbreaking images from Houston, Florida, and Puerto Rico in the aftermath of a trio of hurricanes provide harsh reminders that too much water can have deadly consequences. After Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans decided to commit fully to becoming one of the most climate resilient cities in the U.S. Instead of fighting nature, New Orleans is using some of the same green infrastructure approaches Los Angeles is experimenting with to replenish natural groundwater in ways that reduce pollution and slow the rate at which the ground beneath the city is subsiding.

Mirabeau Water Gardens, an example of the One Water Vision planning in New Orleans. (2)

Smart water approaches are not just for cities. When used systematically on agricultural lands, integrated management conservation practices like use of cover crops, precision irrigation tools, reduced tillage, manure management, and perennial cropping can reduce polluted runoff, make farms more drought-resilient, reduce water demand, sequester carbon, and often increase yield or otherwise add revenue to a farm as well. While the rate of adoption by crop and practice varies, these practices are used on less than 20% of row crops in some areas of the country. As producers learn more about the benefits of conservation practices, interest is growing. We’re supporting efforts to make these advanced approaches commonplace.

Everyone has a stake in solving our long-standing water challenges. We will get better and fairer results if we’re all heard and are connected to each other. That’s why we support using technology to put state-of-the-art science in the hands of everyday citizens. Those technologies can be as sophisticated as using satellites to track the source of dangerous algal blooms across the Great Lakes. They can also be as simple as using smart phones to report pollution incidents in a local creek. Given the right tools, any of us can mobilize restoration where we live.

Our water program is also making investments in networks that connect the professionals tasked with stewarding water management across the U.S. We see increasing interest in learning opportunities, like the One Water Summit, where more than 650 participants from 168 cities recently gathered in New Orleans. Building a “network of networks” to connect those already practicing, or seeking to learn about, smart water is a key part of our strategy to bring better solutions to more communities.

Randi & Bob Fisher, Pisces Foundation trustees, enjoying the clean and plentiful water at Katmai National Park and Preserve in Alaska. (3)

With my colleague Nancy Stoner’s leadership, at the Pisces Foundation we see our task as helping to spotlight and support new approaches, tools, and technologies like these, taking design inspiration from Muir’s insight. This is the best way to achieve goals we all share: safe water coming from every tap, farms that grow food without polluting waterways, cities strengthened by cleaner lakes and rivers, and enough water for both people and nature.



(1) Photo credit: Shutterstock
(2) Photo credit: 100 Resilient Cities
(3) Photo credit: Randi & Bob Fisher

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Three Programs, One Unifying Vision

I’ve been the President of the Pisces Foundation for almost five years, but I still don’t think of myself only as a foundation executive.

That’s because I worked as an environmental lawyer and an advocate for almost 20 years before I took on this role. I spent my days working with dedicated scientists and grassroots advocates to stand up for the laws that protect clean water and for better policies to manage scarce water resources. In broad strokes, I did the kind of work we fund today. Research, reports, communications, advocacy. I asked funders to bet on an idea—and got some scrunched up faces along with gratifying commitments of support.

So, when Bob and Randi Fisher asked for help setting up their new foundation, I was struck by how closely the values they brought to the endeavor echoed my own experiences and needs as a grantee. I knew our trustees wanted to build an organization committed to acting boldly and taking risks, to being “early movers” in support of innovative ideas and organizations.

We talked about what grantees really need from their funders—confidence to try new things, connections and networks to amplify their impact, and the staying power to see their innovative ideas to fruition. The chance to build a foundation from scratch with these founding principles as a north star was five years ago, and is today, a special opportunity.

The Pisces Foundation is dedicated to trying to live these values in the work we do and with the grantees we support. We focus our efforts in three program areas—Environmental Education, Water, and Climate & Energy—each of which is led by a knowledgeable team. I promised in my last blog post to tell you more about our work, and I’d like to start by sharing a quick look at our three programs, explaining why we think each area is important, and discussing what we aim to accomplish. I’ll be following up this fall with three installments on the Pisces Foundation blog that will delve deeper into our strategic approaches and the work we’re supporting in each program.

Environmental Education

You might say that environmental education is the “long game” for our field. When it comes to getting kids the skills they need to become well-prepared stewards of our rapidly changing world and more engaged in learning and active outdoors, environmental education delivers—whether in a classroom, canoe, or anywhere in between. Our grantmaking aims to prepare kids to make smarter decisions that lead to stronger communities and a greener planet by equipping them with environmental know-how and a life-long connection to nature. To do this, we support organizations providing out-of-school or informal environmental education, as well as efforts to ensure kids get strong environmental science instruction during the school day.

Science Action Club, an after-school program, allows for the infusion of quality environmental education into out-of-classroom time. (1)








Water Resources

I wrote an essay three summers ago about threats to water spurred by the remarkable specter of drinking water supply disruption in two major U.S. cities—Charleston, West Virginia and Toledo, Ohio. Since that time, we have only become more aware that the job of securing safe and sufficient water in the U.S. is not something we can take for granted. Our water funding aims to mainstream new thinking, technologies, and ready-to-go solutions that can provide all of us with safe water coming from the tap, farms that nourish us while using water wisely, and cities strengthened by reimagining their relationship to the waterways that often spurred their establishment and still provide an essential sense of place. We support new approaches like green infrastructure, mobile technology to empower people to protect rivers and lakes, and networks that connect a new wave of businesses, local officials, advocates, and others focused on smart water approaches.

The before (right) and after (left, simulation) of Philadelphia, PA with green infrastructure, allowing people and nature to thrive together. (2)








Climate & Energy

Science shows that bolstering essential carbon cuts with reductions in other powerful greenhouse gases is among the best ways to quickly accelerate progress and meet the challenges of climate change. That’s why we focus our climate funding on reducing black carbon, methane, and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)—a set of “short-lived climate pollutants” that must be controlled along with carbon dioxide to keep global temperature under the critical two degrees Celsius threshold, keep communities healthy, and increase our food security. In addition to being an essential component of the must-win climate change mitigation fight, reducing these “super pollutants” also improves public health, making it a compelling focus for our foundation.

Pisces supports the reduction of food waste in the U.S. through stakeholder engagement, the launch of a funder collaborative, and innovative food waste solutions. (3)










Each of these programs reflects, and is intended to advance, a unifying vision at the Pisces Foundation: people and nature thriving together. We know with support to our grantees from our foundation, as well as from other funders, we can make real headway in the short-term and see lasting benefits in all our focus areas. In several upcoming blog posts, I will offer more about our funding and how we are working to make a difference.


(1) Photo credit: California Academy of Sciences, Green Schools National Network
(2) Photo credit: NRDC, Wallace Roberts & Todd
(3) Photo credit: ReFED

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An Update from Pisces Foundation President David Beckman

This is a vital moment to be the president of a foundation committed to accelerating progress toward a world where people and nature thrive together. Our trustees, staff, and I believe a healthy environment ought to be one thing on which we can all agree. But today, we are faced with greater challenges, and more opportunities, than at any time in recent memory. It’s a good time to share a few thoughts about our priorities—and our organizational commitment to share more of our work with you in the months ahead.

A clean and healthy environment has been the focus of my work for over 20 years. If you are like me, you have been grappling every day (and in the middle of the night) with how to overcome challenges we didn’t expect and confront more familiar impediments that slow our progress. Advocates think constantly about how to advance an issue, plumbing its nuances, looking for an opening, an ally, a chance to convince a skeptic. However, when we confront policy inimical to our basic values—not so much reflecting an alternative way to reach a shared goal, but a rejection of the goal itself—determining the best path forward can be difficult. When this paradigm arises not with respect to one environmental issue, but becomes characteristic of an approach to them all, the challenge is stark.

Our field is full of creative innovators, people who offer a new way to provide safe drinking water, or bring a special insight to the monumental task of bending down the climate warming curve. Today, the Pisces Foundation remains steadfastly committed to these partners and their organizations. Indeed, forming partnerships with strong leaders is one of our Foundation’s fundamental principles.

But as a foundation, and as a field, we must be careful not only to celebrate and advance people and organizations leading the way; we also must value, and invest in, the connections between these problem solvers. These linkages can create scaled interventions matched to the large scope of our challenges, whether making cities more resilient after natural disasters or confronting the changes to our climate that make this task ever-more urgent. For me, this is an important lesson of the moment: in more purposeful connection and collective action lies great opportunity.

One result of these reflections is that our Foundation team will spend more time talking with grantees about how we can fortify not just their individual organizations but their efforts to join forces with others to pursue a shared goal. Now more than ever, we want to know how we can help build teams with complementary skills. We don’t expect any one organization or person to do all that needs to be done, just as our Foundation cannot accomplish its goals alone.

Second, beyond our grantmaking relationships, I am working to spark a collaborative initiative to cultivate new energy and opportunities for a broad range of environmental funders and NGOs to connect with one another, sort and select joint priorities, and pursue scaled, collaborative action. With our partners, we have convened a set of committed environmental funders, are reaching out to more, and are talking with dozens of organizations in the field. We’re bringing on a new Pisces Foundation Fellow to help with this initiative.

Finally, we know that working together effectively starts with sharing information about what we’re doing. That’s true for grantees and funders alike. We are also committed to using our own voices to advance our core programmatic goals: expanding opportunities for kids to get the environmental know-how they need to thrive, mainstreaming innovative approaches that yield clean and plentiful water, and ensuring a safe climate by bolstering CO2 cuts with curbs on climate-changing “super pollutants.”

To help us better communicate, it is my intention to share more about our program areas on our blog in the months to come, and, this winter, launch a new version of our website so you can stay up-to-date on what we are up to. On a day-to-day basis, we are already sharing more updates and insights via Twitter (click here to follow @piscesfnd). And, this winter, for the first time, we will convene our grantees with the hope of helping build their, and our, communities of practice.

Communication works best when it goes two ways. To that end, I invite you to reach out (my email address is dbeckman@piscesfoundation.org) with questions, suggestions, and feedback on these thoughts and plans, or anything else. I’m looking forward to connecting with you—and hearing from you—often.

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Now Hiring: Program Officer, Climate and Energy Program

At the Pisces Foundation, we believe if we act now and boldly, we can quickly accelerate to a world where people and nature thrive together. We support innovators who know what it takes and are doing what’s necessary to have clean and abundant water, a safe climate, and kids with the environmental know-how to create a sustainable world. By mainstreaming powerful new solutions, we will spark immediate gains and lasting benefits for people and nature.

The Foundation seeks a Program Officer to lead its Climate and Energy Program. This position reports to the President and will play an important role in a dynamic, growing philanthropy. The Climate and Energy Program focuses on bolstering reductions of carbon dioxide by decreasing emission of all pollutants that contribute to climate change. To accomplish this goal, the Program’s grants and other activities focus on a powerful class of climate “super pollutants” including methane, black carbon, and HFCs. The more quickly we start to reduce all of the pollutants driving climate change, the more likely it is we’ll have the safe, stable climate our communities need to stay healthy, vibrant places.

Please follow the link below to see the full, printable job announcement.

Climate and Energy Program Officer Job Announcement

How to apply:
Applicants may send a PDF document including a cover letter, resume, and relevant writing sample to hiring@piscesfoundation.org with the subject line, “CE PROGRAM OFFICER POSITION.”

Applications will be considered on a rolling basis through October 10, 2017. See http://www.piscesfoundation.org/ for more information on the foundation.

We welcome applicants from diverse backgrounds and with a variety of skills, experiences, and ideas. We are an equal opportunity employer. Employment selection and related decisions are made without regard to sex, gender identity/expression, sexual orientation, race, age, disability, religion, national origin, color, marital or veteran status, or any other protected class.

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Now Hiring: Program Associate, Water Program

At the Pisces Foundation, we believe that if we act now and boldly, we can quickly accelerate to a world where people and nature thrive together.  We support innovators to have clean and abundant water, a safe climate and an environmentally literate society.

The Foundation seeks a collaborative, solutions-oriented self-starter to join our mission-driven team as Program Associate for the Water Program. The Program Associate plays a critical role in grant management and monitoring as well as core operating functions for the program and the Foundation.

The position reports to the Water Program Director and is located in the Foundation’s San Francisco headquarters. The Foundation has a second office in Washington, D.C., where the Water Program Director is based.

Please follow the link below to see the full, printable job announcement.

Program Associate – Water Program Job Announcement

How to apply:
Applicants should send a cover letter, resume, and relevant writing sample combined as a single document in PDF format to: Carol Ting at hiring@piscesfoundation.org. Please indicate in the subject line, “PROGRAM ASSOCIATE.”

Applications will be considered on a rolling basis until the position is filled. See http://www.piscesfoundation.org/ for more information on the Foundation.

We welcome applicants from diverse backgrounds and with a variety of skills, experiences, and ideas. We are an equal opportunity employer. Employment selection and related decisions are made without regard to sex, gender identity/expression, sexual orientation, race, age, disability, religion, national origin, color, marital or veteran status, or any other protected class.

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Johns Hopkins Researchers Analyze Governmental Plans for Reducing Food Waste

Environmentalist, entrepreneur, and journalist Paul Hawken just authored a book, Drawdown, which looks at the top 100 solutions to climate change. We were excited to see that one of Pisces Foundation’s priorities was first on that list. (Take the New York Times Quiz to see what solution that is.) Another of our priorities ranked Number 3: reducing food waste.

In the U.S. alone, over 50 million tons of wasted food is sent to landfill each year. This results in enormous amounts of the climate super pollutant methane being released as the waste decomposes. The good news is that individuals, businesses, nonprofits, and governments are already beginning to find solutions. So much is happening, in fact, that one of our partners, the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, just published a new report that inventories and analyzes the growing number of governmental plans to tackle food waste. Here’s what they found:

  • Increased Attention: The number of new plans each year has dramatically increased since 2000. Their report analyzes 93 of those plans.
  • Cross-cutting Issue: Objectives for addressing wasted food are included in multiple types of governmental plans, most commonly in solid waste management plans and least commonly in climate plans.
  • Specific Targets: Twenty-two of the plans set numeric targets for minimizing the amount of food that is wasted by a specific year.

The report also notes areas where government plans can improve. For example, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) food recovery hierarchy emphasizes that the top goal should be prevention, e.g., reducing the quantity of excess food produced, purchased, or served. Researchers found that while governmental plans often stated a commitment to prevention, their activities did not directly connect to it.

The report makes clear there is no “silver bullet” solution in addressing this complex problem. Rather, jurisdictions have multiple options to consider in developing their plans that address food loss and waste in their local context, and that can contribute to the national goal of halving food loss and waste by 2030. See the complete report to learn more.

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