Nicole Neroulias Gupte, Communications Manager
Philanthropy Northwest was proud to host Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell on Monday afternoon for a conversation with our members about one of her highest priorities: preparing the next generation of outdoor stewards.
A long-time Puget Sound resident and University of Washington alumna, Jewell previously helmed REI and worked in commercial banking. In his introductory remarks, Philanthropy Northwest CEO Jeff Clarke commended her seven Mount Rainier summits — the "successful ones," she clarified — and her enduing ties to the Pacific Northwest.
“My roots do run deep here,” Jewell agreed. “I would say that ethos we share is something I’ve taken with me to Washington, D.C. It’s a philanthropic community; it’s a community that cares.”
During the intimate gathering, attended in-person and by phone by two dozen philanthropy leaders, the Secretary shared her experience transitioning from the private to the public sector, including how her expectations contrasted with the reality of the inner workings of the federal government. One of her major initiatives is the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC), a movement to get more young Americans playing, learning, serving and working on public lands. The Secretary wants to raise awareness of this exciting project, while requesting feedback from our network to make it resonate more deeply.
Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and David Jayo brief the Philanthropy Northwest learning network
Call to Action: Bringing Young People to the Land
More than 80 percent of American families now live in urban areas, Jewell said, making it difficult to introduce young people to our national parks and other natural resources. A Kaiser Family Foundation study reported that the average child now spends more than 50 hours a week in front of a screen; only a tiny fraction get to experience unstructured play outdoors.
She and David Jayo, formerly REI’s corporate giving manager and now Jewell’s senior advisor, are raising $20 million from the private sector to support over 350 21CSC volunteer crews across the country. American Eagle Outfitters, Coca-Cola and Philanthropy Northwest members REI and the Campion Foundation are among the initial donors.
Both Jewell and Jayo, along with others at the Philanthropy Northwest meeting, were moved to tears by a personal account from Brittany Le, 25, an Americorps volunteer from Florida who spent months last year “up to my knees in mud” with Earthcorps, planting Western redcedars and Douglas firs on Washington's Olympic Peninsula.
"During a lunch break, I looked out over a sea of trees so vast I could almost believe it went on forever," she said, concluding, “Our work is the kind of work that has no end."
Jewell and Jayo asked Philanthropy Northwest members to consider supporting these programs, and to spread the word to others who may be interested in funding conservation projects aimed at urban or native youths.
“We don’t want to fit a square peg in a round hole. It has to align with the organization’s missions,” Jewell said. “Our goal is to build a new generation of young people for whom environmental stewardship is part of their ethos.”
Philanthropy Northwest remains committed to engaging with our members on this and other public policy issues of significance to our region and beyond.
"It was a tremendous honor to host Secretary Jewell and provide a unique opportunity for our members to share their ideas and insights with a current Cabinet member," said Philanthropy Northwest Vice President Ann Saxton. "We are thrilled to be part of advancing the conversation about how philanthropy and government can partner to invest in our communities."