Updated July 1, 2021
Yale has a long history of leadership in the field of environmental sustainability, and many Yale alumni ask how they can best support the University’s green mission through philanthropy. Giving Green to Yale is designed to create a roadmap for those alumni who want to support their alma mater but also feel strongly that their giving should focus on environmental, sustainability and climate issues. This guide allows them to do both. We recognize their deep commitment to supporting environmental causes and want to share our excitement that there are now a variety of ways to give green to Yale.
We also recognize that many Yale alumni support a variety of environmental causes, and it is vital to let them to let them know the University now has expanded opportunities to give to environmental sustainability. There are three main areas that need critical financial support: the Yale Office of Sustainability, the Yale School of the Environment, and the significant, newly emerging Planetary Solutions Project. This guide is intended to facilitate and enhance financial support for Yale’s vital role as a leader addressing the world’s critical environmental and climate challenges.
The Yale Blue Green Sustainability Fund
Launched in 2020 by a group from the shared interest group Yale Blue Green, the YBG Sustainability Fund provides needed support for current use to the Yale Office of Sustainability. (https://sustainability.yale.edu) Headed by Ginger Chapman, the Office of Sustainability’s mission is to advance sustainability within the Yale community by acting as a catalyst for information exchange and facilitating capacity building, innovation, sustainable and efficient operations, and preparation of tomorrow’s sustainability leaders. The Office promotes using Yale’s campus as a platform for sustainability innovations helping Yale lead by example. The Office is charged with implementing the University’s Sustainability Plan, including tracking and reporting progress through metrics.
The success of these efforts was recently recognized through the achievement of a Gold STARS ranking from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. The Sustainability Fund is designated for student stipends, student research, projects, programs, events, marketing, online communication, and interdisciplinary collaboration. In 2020 the Fund supported student participation in the Global University Climate Forum leading to COP25, development of a Campus Biodiversity Plan, and the creation of an Arts Area Green Space. Gifts to the Sustainability Fund can be made by going to the Yale giving page and typing in “YBG Sustainability Fund” in the box.
The Yale School of the Environment (YSE)
Founded in 1900, the Yale School of the Environment is one of the oldest and most significant professional schools training environmental leaders. Offering four masters degree programs in environmental management, environmental science, forestry, and forest science, and a PhD program, the school is led by Dean Indy Burke and has over 5000 alumni, many of whom are in leadership positions around the world.
While YSE is a professional school, over 1,000 Yale undergraduates take a course at the school each year. The mission of the school is to “lead the world toward a sustainable future with cutting-edge research, teaching, and public engagement on society’s evolving and urgent environmental challenges.” The interdisciplinary work of the school is organized in nearly two dozen centers including Environmental Law and Policy, Business and the Environment, Environmental Communication, and the Program on Climate Change Communication.
YSE is a self-supporting School at Yale, comparable to Schools of Law, Medicine, Business and must generate its nearly $56M annual budget from philanthropy; unlike those other professional schools, YSE alumni do not go into high-paying careers, and there is a strong need for scholarships to assure that all talented students who are admitted can afford to enroll. Support for YSE in FY20 included $28M from Individual Friends of YSE, Yale Alumni, YSE Alumni, Foundations, Yale Parents, and Corporations, with the balance from a significant endowment; the largest number of donors comes from Yale College graduates with an interest in the environment. Those wishing to support the YSE can contact the school’s development office.
Planetary Solutions Project
Announced in the fall of 2020, the Planetary Solutions Project seeks to address solutions to climate change, biodiversity loss, related human health challenges, which are a longstanding threat to humanity. This project will integrate and coordinate efforts throughout the university—from the School of Architecture to the School of the Environment, from economics to sociology and throughout the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
The work will focus on three areas of climate change: to mitigate harmful anthropogenic climatic and environmental changes, to adapt and build resilient systems to accommodate global changes and to engage through communication, education and leadership for change. The project, which is being led by Yale Provost Scott Strobel, will involve a wide scope of work ranging from carbon capture and storage and scalable energy alternatives to efforts to stem the destruction of vulnerable and diverse ecosystems and to initiatives to convene leaders of today, teach leaders of tomorrow, advance public understanding, and promote environmental justice.
It is anticipated that the Planetary Solutions Project will be part of the multi-billion dollar campaign Yale will launch in October 2021. Those wishing to support this initiative may do so through the Provost’s Resource Fund for Planetary Solutions on the webpage under Be Part of the Solution. A new website will be launched in connection with the campaign to make giving to environmental sustainability at Yale more transparent.
How to Give Green to Yale
Philanthropic support for Yale is facilitated by the Office of Development, and donors can consult the website for ways to give. Founded in 1890, the Yale Alumni Fund has become one of the most successful in American higher education, and the website also provides information about reunion, capital and planned gifts. Gifts to the Yale Alumni Fund (which includes Yale College and the graduate and professional schools) as well as the Yale College Parents Annual Fund are immediately expended in the fiscal year in which there are given. These gifts are unrestricted and disbursed at the discretion of the university to support day-to-day operations, such as financial aid, student activities, teaching, research, and campus maintenance. Within the Yale College Alumni Fund, donors can personalize their contribution by designating their unrestricted gift to one of eleven areas. These areas include support for faculty and students, humanities and sciences, New Haven and the like. These gifts are still unrestricted and the university determines the highest need (within each area) to expend the funds immediately.
For those who wish to Give to Green Yale, donations may be directed to any of the three funds described above. Gifts to the School of the Environment annual fund are credited toward the Yale Alumni Fund. The Yale Blue Green Sustainability Fund and the Planetary Solutions Fund are restricted for a specific use, and gifts to these accounts can be expended all at once or over time. All these gifts are gratefully received by the University, and while those to the Sustainability Fund and Planetary Solutions Fund are not credited to the unrestricted Yale Alumni Fund, alumni donors do receive credit for their reunion gift, which counts any and all giving with the reunion cycle.