INTRODUCING EMPLOYEES TO KEY CLIMATE CHANGE AND SUSTAINABILITY
Over 10 years ago, the Alcoa Foundation partnered with Earthwatch to create the Alcoa Employee Sustainability Fellowship program, an initiative that now sends 25 Alcoa employees per year on facilitated, week-long Earthwatch Expeditions in Brazil, Canada, and China. The goal of the initiative is to introduce employees to key climate change and sustainability topics as they relate to forests, carbon, and ecosystem services so that each employee can become an advocate for Alcoa’s commitment to sustainability.
The relationship between the Alcoa Foundation and Earthwatch has continued to grow and develop over the years. At the onset of the program in 2003, between 7 and 15 Alcoa employees were selected to participate in scientific field research expeditions alongside participants from the general public, funded by annual grants of $30,000 to $45,000. In 2008, the Alcoa Foundation made its first two-year investment in Earthwatch and developed a Community Fellowship Program to support community leaders in addition to Alcoa employees. By 2011, the partnership was extended to include a facilitated learning program around the topics of climate change and sustainability that was offered in three languages: English, Portuguese, and Mandarin.
Most recently, the partnership has renewed another two-year contract for 2013 and 2014, which stems from a grant of $541,901. In addition to funding another 25 employee fellows to participate on a facilitated Earthwatch Expedition, this grant includes the development of the Alcoa Sustainability Alumni Network, which will allow employees to build on the experiences of past fellows and inspire more sustainability action throughout Alcoa.
Since the program began, 170 Alcoa employees from 21 countries have provided essential assistance to 40 Earthwatch research projects in 30 countries. In 2012, Alcoa employees took part in over 500 hours of facilitated learning with Earthwatch staff and contributed over 1,000 research hours.