The City of San José, CA is working towards a “Climate Smart San José” to help mitigate the effects of climate change that are affecting the ecosystems, health, livelihoods, and security of its residents. The FUSE Executive Fellow will help create an inter-agency strategy to identify and apply for a range of financial and technical resources from government entities, local revenue, and private philanthropy sources to advance local climate adaptation and mitigation efforts.

ABOUT THE FUSE EXECUTIVE FELLOWSHIP

FUSE Corps is a national nonprofit working to expand social and economic opportunities, particularly for communities that have been limited by a history of systemic and institutionalized racism. FUSE partners with local governments and communities to more effectively address pressing challenges by placing experienced professionals within city and county agencies. These FUSE Executive Fellows lead strategic projects designed to advance racial equity and accelerate systems change. Since 2012, FUSE has led over 250 projects in 40 governments across 20 states, impacting the lives of 25 million people.

When designing each fellowship project, FUSE works closely with government partners and local stakeholders to define a scope of work that will achieve substantive progress toward regional priorities. FUSE then conducts an individualized search for each project to ensure that the selected candidate has at least 15 years of professional experience, the required competencies for the role, and deep connections to the communities being served. They are data-driven and results-oriented and able to effectively manage complex projects by developing actionable roadmaps and monitoring progress to completion.

Executive Fellows are hired as FUSE employees and embedded in government agencies for at least one year of full-time work. Throughout their fellowships, they receive training, coaching, and professional support from FUSE to help achieve their project goals. FUSE Executive Fellows bring diverse perspectives and new approaches to their projects. They build strong relationships with diverse arrays of stakeholders, foster alignment within and across various layers of government, and build partnerships between governments and communities.

PROJECT CONTEXT

Across America, cities are working to proactively respond to climate threats in order to reduce climate risk, mitigate negative climate impacts, and improve the long-term health and vitality of their residents. The City of San José, CA is leading the way towards a “Climate Smart San José” to help mitigate the effects of climate change such as extreme heat, weather, drought, and sea level rise that are affecting the ecosystems, health, livelihoods, food security, water supply, security, and economic growth of its residents. Under this plan, the City is working on nine climate strategies to change its climate adaptability, including transitioning to renewable energy sources, densifying the city to accommodate population increases, and making homes energy efficient and affordable for families.

Many of these Climate Smart strategies for increasing climate resilience come with a high price tag that can complicate implementing the necessary large-scale infrastructure shifts as well as incentivizing and supporting shifts for individual residents. Funding for local climate adaptation and resilience projects like these must increasingly draw on a range of public and private financing options to move forward. This may include applying for federal grant funding, developing public/private partnerships, funding projects through local taxes, and/or receiving private philanthropic support. As the dearth of available financing options rapidly grows and changes each day, identifying and procuring the right financing options for individual climate-related projects can present a logistical challenge that allows promising funding opportunities to slip by.

San José will partner with FUSE Corps to create an inter-agency strategy to identify and apply for a range of financial and technical resources from government entities, local revenue, and private philanthropic sources to advance local climate adaptation and mitigation efforts. The FUSE Executive Fellow will: conduct a landscape analysis of current projects and needs; research successful models from other agencies and localities; and shape a financing strategy to support the city’s climate related projects. This work will help San José reach its Climate Smart goals so that its residents enjoy cleaner air, healthy homes, and safe and easy to use transportation options.

PROJECT SUMMARY & POTENTIAL DELIVERABLES

The following provides a general overview of the proposed fellowship project. This project summary and the potential deliverables will be collaboratively revisited by the host agency, the fellow, and FUSE staff during the first few months of the fellowship.

Beginning in May 2023, the FUSE Executive Fellow will work with city agencies as well as community, state and federal government, and private stakeholders to research, plan, and recommend a strategy to identify and secure financing options for San José’s climate resilience projects. Ultimately, this will help accelerate climate action within the San José community and around the world. 

The Executive Fellow will begin by conducting a thorough landscape analysis to inventory climate-related project needs across all City departments. They will also collaborate with agency partners to assess existing financing strategies and processes that other City departments use to identify and win grants and other financing options for climate resilience projects. The Executive Fellow will assess successful strategies from other localities and engage with all relevant stakeholders, including other city departments, staff members, government agencies, private businesses, and community members to better understand current and future funding opportunities on local, state, and national scales.

The Executive Fellow will use the collected information to shape the City of San José’s financing strategy for climate resilience and adaptation efforts. This will include designing an effective strategic plan for identifying funding sources such as federal and state level grants; local revenue sources such as local sales taxes, shared costs and joint agreements, Tax Increment Financing (TIF) and special assessment districts, and direct user charges; and private and philanthropic sources such as impact investing & environmental impact bonds, public-private partnerships, and community, corporate, and private family foundation grants. Importantly, this work will prioritize identifying and understanding funding opportunities to benefit low wealth communities and communities of color that have historically been excluded from or harmed by policy decisions and resultantly see disproportionate impacts from greenhouse gas emissions from non-renewable energy sources, climate change, and unsafe infrastructure.

As grants represent a major opportunity for climate financing solutions, the Executive Fellow will identify paths to success for winning grants. This includes outlining inter-agency roles, responsibilities, timelines, and action plans for conducting grant prospect searches, project development, writing grant applications, submissions, and grant management/renewals upon award. The Executive Fellow will outline a plan for creating an inter-agency grants team to continuously communicate about and address potential prospects across city departments as new project needs arise. They will also develop inter-agency strategies for facilitating completion of climate grants (e.g., completing award-winning applications, authoring an RFP to hire a consultant to assist with technical proposals etc.).

By April 2024, the Executive Fellow will have overseen the following:

  • Conduct a thorough landscape analysis- Assess current climate-related project needs across city agencies; research local and national models and strategies for identifying and procuring climate funding solutions; engage with all relevant stakeholders, including other departments, staff members, government agencies, private businesses, and community members to better understand current and future climate financing opportunities.
  • Form a comprehensive strategic plan and implementation framework – Design an effective strategic plan for identifying and procuring climate-focused funding opportunities from government, public, and private sources; ensure community needs, perspectives, and equity for historically disinvested communities are centered in all financing strategy opportunities; create an inter-agency grants team to identify prospects and complete award-winning applications; establish a timeline and implementation plan to continually identify and implement funding solutions as new projects arise.

KEY STAKEHOLDERS

  • Executive Sponsor – Kip Harkness, Deputy City Manager, City Manager’s Office, City of San José, CA
  • Project Supervisor – Erica Garaffo, Lead Resilience Strategist, City Manager’s Office, City of San José, CA

QUALIFICATIONS

In addition to the qualifications listed below, a background in federal grants, funder prospect research, and project management is strongly preferred for this project.

  • Synthesizes complex information into clear and concise recommendations and action-oriented implementation plans.
  • Develops and effectively implements both strategic and operational project management plans.
  • Generates innovative, data-driven, and result-oriented solutions to difficult challenges.
  • Responds quickly to changing ideas, responsibilities, expectations, trends, strategies, and other processes.
  • Communicates effectively both verbally and in writing and excels in both active listening and conversing.
  • Fosters collaboration across multiple constituencies in order to support more effective decision making.
  • Establishes and maintains strong relationships with a diverse array of stakeholders, both inside and outside of government, and particularly including community-based relationships.
  • Embraces differing viewpoints and implements strategies to find common ground.
  • Demonstrates confidence and professional diplomacy, while effectively interacting with individuals at all levels of various organizations.

FUSE Corps is an equal opportunity employer with core values of diversity, equity, and inclusion. We encourage candidates from all backgrounds to apply for this position.