Dear DDCSP Alumni,
Over the last ten years, the Doris Duke Foundation has had the privilege of supporting more than 740 Doris Duke Conservation Scholars. Your commitment to the program and to one another has created a vibrant and engaged community, with relationships that have continued well beyond the two years of the program. And your vision for a just, equitable, inclusive, and thriving conservation movement has created positive change across all arenas of the conservation field. This vision has impacted and shaped the foundation’s work as we think about our role in fostering a different type of conservation movement.
As the Doris Duke Foundation enters a new phase, we’ve reflected on the future of the foundation’s Environment Program and the changes that we must make in order to address the urgent challenges of our day. The foundation seeks to demonstrate how effective conservation can address the intersecting crises of social injustice, climate change, and biodiversity loss. This has caused us to refine and hone our strategies and grantmaking over the last few years.
As a result of this reflection and after long, careful, and deliberate consideration of our strategies, we have made the difficult decision to wind down DDCSP following the 2023 cohort that will start the program this summer. Their DDCSP experience will not be impacted by this decision. This means that the University of California-Santa Cruz, the University of Washington, and the Collaborative programs will end sometime in 2025.
We recognize that many of you will be saddened and disappointed by this news. We recognize the positive impact that this program has had for many of you and the ways it has supported your personal and professional growth. You have wanted the same for others that come behind you.
The phrase used most often to describe the DDCSP experience is “transformative.” You’ve made new friends, built support networks, found moments of joy and inspiration, and gained skills and experiences. You’ve broadened your understanding of the conservation field and the solutions we need to solve pressing challenges. Though you were not consulted in a formal way on this decision, your perspectives and experiences over the last ten years have been formative in how we support the conservation field today and moving forward.
Your vision for a different type of conservation movement reflects a vision that we share. Over the last several years, we’ve sought to advance racial equity in the conservation movement, build power for BIPOC communities, and support BIPOC land stewardship. To continue implementing this vision, we must dedicate funding in different ways, including funding directly BIPOC-led organizations working on conservation issues. Moving forward, we’re doubling our investment in a more equitable and inclusive conservation field. Most notably, we recently committed more than $30 million to support Indigenous-led conservation and are supporting BIPOC-led coalitions and organizations like the Next100 Coalition, America the Beautiful for All Coalition, and the Sustainable Forestry and Land Retention Network. We plan to continue supporting efforts like this and look forward to hearing about projects and opportunities from you and the other Alumni.
We have been incredibly proud to support DDCSP and are grateful to those who have contributed to the success of the program over the years. We would particularly like to thank the DDCSP program staff, who have been passionate and thoughtful leaders, as well as the program’s mentors and internship hosts. We will provide what support we can to help program staff transition to new opportunities.
Finally, we’ll work with Environmental Leadership Program and the Alumni to determine the future of the DDCSP Alumni Network. This could take many forms, and we’ll co-design a thoughtful process to work through questions about what comes next.
While our decision means the formal end of the program, we are confident that you and this network of incredible individuals will continue to grow and shape the conservation field well into the future. If you have any questions about our decision, please reach out to us at email@example.com. If there is interest, we can also organize a group discussion.
Sacha Spector, Program Director for the Environment
Danielle Levoit, Senior Program Officer for the Environment