On June 7, 2021, the City of Santa Clara City Council unanimously approved the new Silicon Valley Power Sustainable Futures Program, which will provide scholarships and fellowships to up to 35 future leaders in sustainability, clean energy and related fields. The goal of the program is to develop a pipeline of strong, diverse future leaders in sustainability and clean energy sectors.
The innovative, five-year program is funded by a $375,000 grant from Silicon Valley Power (SVP), the City of Santa Clara’s not-for-profit municipal electric utility. Selected students—especially those transferring from local community colleges—will use the funds to attend and receive advanced opportunities at Santa Clara University and its award-winning environmental and sustainability curriculum.
“Investing in a green jobs workforce pipeline is critical to achieving Silicon Valley Power’s vision to innovate creative energy solutions for a resilient and sustainable community,” said SVP’s chief electric utility officer, Manuel Pineda. “It is also vital to meet the City of Santa Clara’s climate goals.”
“We are delighted to be partnering with Silicon Valley Power on a program that aligns beautifully with our University’s goals of increasing access and affordability to higher education and building a pipeline of strong future leaders in the vital field of sustainability,” said Eva Blanco Masias, vice president for enrollment management at Santa Clara University.
The program begins in the 2022-2023 school year and will provide for support as follows:
- Silicon Valley Power Sustainable Futures Scholarships. Each year for five years, Santa Clara University will award four students from underrepresented socioeconomic backgrounds scholarships averaging $15,000 for sustainability-related studies at Santa Clara University. Applicants transferring from Mission College or other community colleges in Santa Clara will be given priority for these scholarships as a way of increasing access to a four-year education for promising community college students.
- Silicon Valley Power Sustainable Futures Fellowships. Each year for five years, Santa Clara University will award three students fellowships of $5,000 to help fund experiences through the University’s Center for Sustainability. Preference will be given for students who are from underrepresented socioeconomic backgrounds who intend to pursue careers in sustainability or clean energy and who show strong leadership potential and commitment to climate goals such as UN Sustainable Development Goals. Fellows will benefit from:
- High-Impact Learning Experiences: Students will have the chance to engage in 10 weeks of high-impact projects that provide real-world perspectives and experiences, build critical applied skills and enhance their early career and post-graduate success.
- Partnership Opportunities: Working with the City of Santa Clara, students will lead research and outreach projects to solve local climate or sustainability-related problems, increasing their understanding and ability to create local solutions and exposing them to green jobs.
The program is designed to improve students’ skill sets to compete for emerging green jobs. The skill requirements are expanding rapidly, particularly in the Bay Area, where energy, sustainability and climate drivers are leading the way in accelerating this field.
“Santa Clara University is excited to put the sustainability programming we’ve developed over decades in service of local problems, as Fellows will use the campus and City as living laboratories,” said Lindsey Kalkbrenner, director of SCU’s Center for Sustainability. “We are thrilled these opportunities will enable more students to explore their roles in sustainability, and sustainability in their roles.”
The Sustainable Futures Program complements current efforts by Silicon Valley Power to support Mission College students in areas related to sustainability. With the development of the Sustainable Futures Program, SVP will be phasing out its former scholarship program after this year. SVP will consider additional efforts to support the growth of talent and diversity in green careers as opportunities arise. More details will be available this fall.