Building Energy Research Capacity at Under-Resourced Institutions 

With the support of a $249,788 grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Second Nature will undertake a first-of-its-kind pilot project for our organization beginning in fall 2023 to study and address federal funding barriers faced by researchers at higher education institutions not commonly involved in climate research. 

Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), community colleges, and Primarily Undergraduate Institutions (PUIs) have a vital role to play in accelerating climate solutions research, and this pilot project aims to help researchers at these institutions overcome barriers and build capacity to access the unprecedented funding currently available in the energy research field. Read more about the project in our press release.

Our Process 

Second Nature’s regional managers will conduct listening sessions with researchers in August and September 2023 to identify barriers to applying for federal funding for energy research. Second Nature will select and fund a cohort of 12 research fellows and teams from those listening sessions. The cohort members will go on to participate in capacity-building workshops to learn to navigate the federal funding application process and then apply for grant funding for their research. Cohort participants will receive funding of up to $10,000 each from the Energy Research Expansion Fund to facilitate their work.

Listening Sessions

Researchers at PUIs, HBCUs, community colleges, or Tribal colleges or universities can register for any of the following listening sessions. Please contact Blythe Coleman-Mumford or Cami Sockow, Second Nature’s regional managers, with any questions.

  • Register for Wednesday, September 6, 11 am – 12 pm EST
  • Register for Thursday, September 14, 11 am – 12 pm EST


Our Values 

Second Nature was established in 1993 to advance climate action in and through higher education and has been one of the longest-standing organizations to champion this work broadly. In our new strategic pathways, we see an opportunity to expand access to federal funding research with a new project supported by the Energy Research Expansion Fund. 

We see a unique opportunity to design this new project with intentional elements that allow for deeper relationship building and engagement, specifically with minority faculty members at Predominantly Undergraduate Institutions, with signatories and non-signatories of our Climate Leadership Network. We believe this project will help us grow and deepen aspects of our existing programming and new strategic pathways for diversified institutional engagement, including intensifying relationships within our regional programming in the southeast and midwest and with institutions historically a minority in our networks, including HBCUs and Tribal Colleges. 

We see an opportunity here to listen, learn, and respond in a new way, with the hope that we can act on a new understanding of how energy systems researchers can be supported to apply for federal funding at institutions not commonly involved in the research enterprise or lacking the capacity to do this work at the scale needed. We are committed to these values throughout this process. We welcome your support of this pilot project.

To learn more about this initiative, please contact Blythe Coleman-Mumford or Cami Sockow.