Our RVC Block Party has been postponed to fall 2024.

Green Pathways, winter update: Lessons learned from brand new fellowship program so far!

By Florence Sum and RVC

On Nov. 7, RVC hosted a gathering at Element 79 in Seattle. This gathering brought together community members with RVC staff so that everyone could get an update from Green Pathways Program Manager Florence Sum about the outcomes and lessons learned from this new pilot program so far!

Here’s what Florence had to share!

How did we get here? 

A brief history of how Green Pathways came to be

Green 2.0 report (2014)

In 2014 Dr. Doroeta E. Taylor released the Green 2.0 report, which outlined the racial composition of environmental organizations and agencies that have not broken the 12% to 16% green ceiling in decades due to unconscious bias and lackluster effort and disinterest in addressing diversity.

Got Green CBPR Report (2015)

Got Green launched a community research project and reported on what young people’s priorities were for the environment, barriers to participating meaningfully, what solutions they thought could improve employment outlook for young people, and an assessment of internship pathways in Seattle.

Green Pathways Resolution (2016)

Got Green’s Young Green Leaders Committee launched a successful campaign for the City of Seattle Council to pass the Green Pathways Resolution. Unfortunately, this did not have the funding or a program attached and thus, progress looked slow.

Green Pathways Fellowship Program (2017)

Got Green approached RVC about building the Green Pathways Fellowship Program, and we said yes!

The percentage of ethnic minorities on the boards or general staff of environmental organizations does not exceed 16%. Once hired in environmental organizations, ethnic minorities are concentrated in the lower ranks. As a result, ethnic minorities occupy less than 12% of the leadership positions in the environmental organizations.” – Green 2.0 Report

Percentage of ethnic minorities in board and general staff of environmental organizations

Percentage of ethnic minorities in leadership positions of environmental organizations

How was our first year recruiting for this program?

We had 75% more applicants apply than the first year RVC launched its Community Impact Fellowship! Below is a breakdown of our demographic information based on race/ethnicity.

We had a total of 73 applicants for 10 positions!

Race/EthnicityNumber of People% of Total Applicants
Asian American (Southeast Asian & Central Asian)68%
Asian American (East Asian & South Asian)811%
Black (African American, African Descent)2534%
Black (African, Afro-Latino, Afro-Caribbean)57%
Indigenous Peoples of America, American Indian, or Alaska Native11%
Native Hawaiian, or other Pacific Islander23%
Didn’t indicate their race/ethnicity22%


65% of applicants had a postsecondary education
12% of applicants only had a high school degree

We were surprised at how many folks with postsecondary education applied for the program!

Our application does not have an education requirement. While having a meaningful career is certainly possible without a college degree, our intention for the program was to recruit folks who did not have postsecondary education so we could help to provide more pathways to potential careers.

47% of applicants have “roots” in King County

This was also surprising!

One of our priorities for the program is to prioritize folks who have deep roots in the Seattle/South King County region because we wanted to invest in folks who were invested in staying in Seattle and being a part of the change that’s happening here.

Who are the Fellows?

From top left to bottom right: Johanna Wasse, Zaya Tumurkhuyag, Rheana Dale, Shaylea Pilarski, Venice Wong, Yolanda Altamirano, Ashley Arhin, Cly Samson, Sharon Huerta, Maggie Angel-Cano

Johanna headshot

Zaya headshot
Rheana headshot
Shaylea Pilarski headshot
Venice Wong heashot
Yolanda Altamirano headshot
Ashley Arhin headshot
Maggie Headhsot

Where do the Fellows work?

Here are the organizations! Here are the folks who said yes to this pilot program!

Got Green talked to many organizations about this program and those relationships were transferred to RVC to figure out who would be a part of the inaugural cohort of Green Pathways Partners.

Our program wouldn’t be possible without our partners:

forterra logo
king conservation district logo

How is Green Pathways Structured?

The program model falls into two areas: Fellows and Organizations.

Green Pathways Program Model


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[su_spoiler title=”Leadership Institute” open=”no” style=”default” icon=”plus” anchor=”” class=”black”]First 5 weeks of Fellowship Start
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  • 1st week retreat
  • MWF @ RVC
  • TTh @ Host Site

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Remaining 2 Years
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  • Monthly All-Day Trainings
  • Monthly 2-Hour Workshops

[su_tab title=”Coaching” disabled=”no” anchor=”” url=”” target=”blank” class=””]Monthly 1-2 hour meetings with an RVC Fellowship Program Staff.[/su_tab]
[su_tab title=”Mentoring” disabled=”no” anchor=”” url=”” target=”blank” class=””]Monthly 1-3 hour meetings wiht a mid-senior career professional[/su_tab]


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[su_tab title=”Training” disabled=”no” anchor=”” url=”” target=”blank” class=””]Training Resources for Environmental Community (TREC). Quarterly Trainings adjusted to the cohort of partners (white-dominant/led).[/su_tab]
[su_tab title=”Equity Assessment” disabled=”no” anchor=”” url=”” target=”blank” class=””]RVC Capacity Building Dept + Org’s Equity Change Team implements an equity assessment and creates plan to address the areas of improvement. [/su_tab]

Cost of the Program

Salary (living wage, according to 2017 standards)$42,000
Benefits (at minimum)$5,000
Professional Development Stipend (per year)$1,000
Technology Reimbursement (provide or purchase)$1,000
Program Fee (per Fellow, per year)$16,443
Total cost to organization (per year, per Fellow)$65,443

This estimate is what we used to launch this program! Green Pathways is a pilot program and as we are running it, we are receiving feedback and identifying gaps that would potentially raise the cost of this program in the next iteration.

Lessons Learned


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Information Download/Transition

The launch of the program was rocky because some relationships (partners, funders, etc.) and other key programmatic information was not documented or transitioned well.

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True Cost of Green Pathways Program

Our estimated expenses for this pilot program does not match the current structure and vision for the program. It will potentially cost more.

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Building up capacity we need to launch beforehand

We need an additional FTE to the RVC Fellowship Team to assist in executing the program.


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Recruitment for Fellows

We need to improve our relationships with the Latinx, Black and Indigenous communities to build an ethnically diverse pool of applicants. In addition, we need to concentrate on our recruitment for applicants without a college degree.

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Clarify and repeat them throughout the application and program! Make sure there are no surprises anywhere!

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Non-negotiable start for Fellows

There were requests for Fellows to begin their position earlier than our September start date. This was not congruent with our cohort model.

Partner Organizations

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Screening Partners

We needed a clear criteria and vetting process to select partners for this program. For example, we needed to understand folks’ willingness and commitment to moving equity work and the intended fellow’s supervisor’s preparedness and capabilities.

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Clear Job Descriptions

Unclear titles and responsibilities confused all parties involved. This led to a messy or no on boarding process. Fellows unsure what responsibilities are, and rotating supervisors/point-of-contacts.

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Equity Work

We realized we needed at least a year before Fellows started their jobs with partners to asses and begin to address the impact of racism. This takes more than an assessment and a couple of trainings, but we don’t have the capacity.

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Supervision Match

It’s so important to have a good supervisor! For an entry-level position and for a person of color, this is crucial to have someone with the capacity, skills, and support to be an incredible supervisor.

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Common Narrative Plan

A clear communications plan to disseminate to our partners which outline the vision of the program, why the partnership, and what can they expect. This helps clear any confusion about who the Fellow was and what RVC was contacting people about.

For more information, check out the executive summary and the full version of the Paper of Color for Green Pathways!