How and why IGC came about.
After a fulfilling 19-year career in international postsecondary education, I could no longer ignore the feeling that I had become more part of the climate problem than the solution. My small team and I sent upwards of a thousand students abroad annually and I couldn't help but feel personally responsible for the emissions from every single flight. It was no longer possible for me to reconcile the climate impacts of my work with the educational and cultural benefits of the experiences I was helping to create. I felt like I didn't have the choice, I had to shift my professional energy toward climate solutions.
So, in the summer of 2022, I started cold calling leaders of climate and social justice nonprofits in San Diego. I wanted to know if the work I had in mind was already being done and, if not, would creating another organization be the best way to introduce it? I met with 30+ leaders who were tuned into the fantastic work already happening in the region and I asked them two questions:
What isn’t happening that needs to happen? and
Who else should I ask?
I treated this exploration as a qualitative research project and when I reached saturation (i.e. I started hearing the same responses over and over again), I knew I had my answer.
In addition to learning that IGC’s climate justice education and decarbonization goals would be additive to the work already being carried out, I learned that the climate leaders in San Diego are collaborative, inclusive, and downright good people who care deeply about our region and the well-being of our neighbors.
the climate leaders in San Diego are collaborative, inclusive, and downright good people...
It was clear that supporting the work of well-established organizations while serving as an entry point for leaders from outside the climate space was where a new organization could have the biggest climate impact. Fortunately, the committed, knowledgeable, and connected climate leaders who I approached to serve on the board agreed to put their efforts behind the organization and we immediately got to work articulating our mission, vision, and values. In January 2023, we applied for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status and we received our determination letter less than two months later.
It's incredible to look back to last February and recount how much we have been able to accomplish in just one year. As we continue to build momentum with our education programs, the IGC team is poised to launch meaningful decarbonization projects to do our part to chip away at the biggest challenges humanity has ever faced. It's a big task but we feel obligated to take it on.