Earth Island Institute is an amazing organization doing remarkable work for the planet. From its Brower Youth Awards incubating our future environmental leaders to the Sacred Land Film Project working to protect sacred lands around the world and the cultures that depend on them, Earth Island is making a difference. It is the most cost-effective donation one can make.
As one of our Executive Directors, I have been intimately involved with building the Earth Island organization for some 30 years and am extremely proud of all we do. While I was disappointed to discover Ted 91's review of Earth Island, I am equally inspired to offer my perspective and first-hand experience with this high-impact organization and our successful fiscal sponsorship model.
Earth Island Institute has sponsored more than 140 projects since our founding in 1982, and our activities as a fiscal sponsor are widely respected (including through the National Network of Fiscal Sponsors). Our Project Support department is one of the most sophisticated and comprehensive fiscal sponsorship programs in the United States, as well as one of the few such programs with extensive international projects. We currently have 65 projects under our fiscal sponsorship and we’re receiving more project applications all the time; several projects have been with the organization for more than 15 years.
Beyond sponsorship, our New Leaders Initiative and our annual Brower Youth Awards are leading programs in recognizing and mentoring the most amazing young environmental leaders between the ages of 13 and 22. We held our 15th Annual Brower Youth Awards -- a free community event with 1,000 guests, including 400 middle and high school youth -- in October 2014. During the Awards Ceremony, Shadia Fayne Wood, a past Brower Youth Award recipient and current project director under Earth Island's fiscal sponsorship, shared how winning a Brower Youth Award and receiving support and mentorship from Earth Island has shaped her career in the environmental field:
"Do you know who cared? Who paid attention? The Brower Youth Awards. They said to me, 'Your passion is something worth fighting for.' They said, 'We believe in you and we want to help you succeed.' For me this was one of the most pivotal moments of my life because as a young woman of color, it showed me that I had far greater value than I had previously thought. That I could even follow a career path in this work. BYA also helped me get fiscal sponsorship with Earth Island Institute to start a global youth media network of photographers and videographers doing documentary work on climate change impacts and resilience...Earth Island gave me a home and the critical connections and tools to get started."
As a testimonial of the value of our support for projects, Toby McLeod, director of the Sacred Land Film Project, shared, “At Earth Island, we are part of a community of creative activists with a great track record and cutting edge world view. This community also provides us a great network of peers and opportunities for cross-pollination.”
Earth Island has also published the quarterly Earth Island Journal, both in print since 1986 and online, which is largely supported by our thousands of Earth Island members. The Journal has won numerous awards and has been recognized by Utne Reader on several occasions for providing top environmental coverage. Utne Reader wrote: “The environment is surely the biggest news story of our day, and we’re glad Earth Island Journal is on it.”
I would invite Ted 91 and others reading this review to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 510-859-9108 if you have questions or wish to learn more about our work. I would suggest that an organization with such a track record would not have thrived for as long as it has were it not for policies and procedures that deeply respect and support the progressive, public interest constituencies that it serves.
Earth Island Institute prides itself on helping grow environmental leadership, but beyond the tag line does very little for the movement. The organization itself is inefficient and wasteful and only gets away with a low overhead percentage because of accounting gimmicks as a fiscal sponsor. They provide very little support to activists and it is essentially a play thing for the aging actiists that hung out with Dave Brower and can't move on to the environmental movement of today. The best thing they could do would be to clean house and get new leadership, but the board - which never changes - was handpicked by the leaders and will never step up. Don't waste your time or money.