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Checking In with Two of Our E2 1 Hotels Fellows

We’re spotlighting Alija Blackwell and Caroline Spears as they discuss the status of their projects with our Corporate Director of Sustainability & Impact.

Published on: April 20, 2022

As a refresher, the E2 (Environmental Entrepreneurs) program is spearheaded by the NRDC with a goal to identify and address pressing environmental issues and needs across the country through business. Each year, we award $20,000 to six young entrepreneurs as they execute projects that directly advance sustainability, clean energy, and environmental policies in America.

We’re about one-third of the way through 2022, so naturally, we’re checking in with a couple of our E2 Fellows to discuss the progress, impacts, and future plans of their projects.

But first, let’s get to know them.

Alija Blackwell

Alija Blackwell is a creative technologist and researcher advancing equity in the social impact sector. As a Transition Design Fellow for the NRDC, Alija’s work centers around historically marginalized communities, promoting just transition efforts—from business as usual to a clean economy—through participatory planning and strategic foresight. 

Alija’s project introduces The Participatory Transition Design Toolkit, a package of techniques and foresight strategies to support long-term engagement with communities directly impacted by climate change and the ongoing transition to a clean economy. The toolkit considers the unique needs, priorities, and challenges of each community, the existing generational cycles of extractive practices in nature and civic engagement, and the pathways to possible futures for transitioning communities in America.

Caroline Spears

Caroline Spears is the founder and Executive Director of Climate Cabinet, an organization that serves as a platform for turning climate information into action by providing the public and policymakers with district-specific data.

Caroline’s project is centered around creating a Climate Heatmap that organizes local elected officials and assesses the potential for their involvement in bold climate policy. It’s no secret that climate change is a massive, complex issue, and climate policy requires input from the public and policymakers at every level. While 85% of climate funds go towards federal action, 500,000 people hold elected office in America, and all of them are critical for equitable climate action. With so many elected officials, it can be hard to know where to focus resources, and this overwhelm leads to more funds funneled towards federal action. The Climate Heatmap will give the climate movement a more granular understanding of which policymakers are the most effective players for climate action.

View the Discussion

We’re honored to support Alija and Caroline as they each embody what it means to serve as a platform for change. To learn more about each of their exciting projects, check out the interview on Instagram, where our Corporate Director of Sustainability & Impact, Corinne Hanson, asks each fellow about the current status of their work and specific events and passions that inspired the purpose of their projects.

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