CCST Science & Technology Policy Fellowship Meets $30 Million Endowment Goal, Thanks to $10 Million from State Budget

A group photo of the 2023 CCST S&T Policy Fellows standing together in front of the California State Capitol steps dressed in business attire.
2023 CCST Science & Technology Policy Fellows | Gurleen Roberts for CCST

 

CCST Science & Technology Policy Fellowship Meets $30 Million Endowment Goal, Thanks to $10 Million from State Budget

Historic State investment affirms value and impact of the CCST Fellowship, as the program enters its 15th year of delivering scientific expertise to policymakers

 

California just made a historic move to help ensure that science and technology advice will continue to be easily accessible to policymakers for years to come.

The $310.8 billion state budget approved by the Legislature and signed by Governor Gavin Newsom on June 27th provides the California Council on Science and Technology (CCST) with $10 million to fund the CCST Science and Technology Policy Fellows program (CCST Science Fellows). With this landmark investment, the program successfully meets its endowment goal of $30 million, which will sustain a perpetual, stable, and trusted pipeline of scientific advisors to California policymakers.

Among those commending the state’s visionary decision is Senator Nancy Skinner (D- Berkeley), who has been one of the program’s champions since the first years of the fellowship. She has hosted and mentored numerous CCST Science Fellows over the program’s 15 years.

“The CCST Science Fellowship strengthens the Legislature’s capability to make evidence-based decisions and tackle complex challenges head-on,” Senator Skinner said. “Supporting the Fellowship continues California’s leadership in the intersection of science, technology, and public policy. This investment is a testament to our unwavering dedication to progress and innovation.”

Modeled after the national fellowship program developed by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the CCST Science Fellows program was established in 2009 with funds from a consortium of generous philanthropic donors led by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. The fellowship places PhD-level scientists and engineers in the California State Legislature, the Executive Branch, and State Agencies for a year of public service and leadership training, attracting accomplished researchers from CCST’s Partner Institutions and beyond.

Over the last 15 years, the fellowship has drawn champions spanning the California Legislature, the Executive Branch, philanthropic leaders, the CCST board, and Fellowship alumni. In fact, roughly 84% of Alumni work in policy-related careers, and many serve as Fellows trainers and mentors.

“The CCST Science Fellows bring enormous value to the policy landscape,” said Liane Randolph, Chair of the California Air Resources Board. “I have had the privilege of mentoring and working closely with many of the talented scientists who come through this program, not only as Fellows but as Alumni who have continued their careers in public service and integrated their scientific expertise with policy savvy. California’s support of the Fellows is an investment in the future vitality, integrity, and strength of California’s policies.”

Delivering on its reputation as a global leader in innovation and the fifth largest economy in the world, California has provided crucial support for the CCST Science Fellows Program in recent years. In 2019, the State allocated $11.5 million to the program, followed by another $10 million in 2022. With the latest $10 million closing a critical funding gap, CCST has successfully reached its $30 million endowment goal, ensuring that California policymakers have ready access to a minimum of 8 to 10 CCST Science Fellows annually. The fellowship will also continue to provide a vital example of collaboration between government, philanthropy, and academia – hosted by a nonpartisan nonprofit – through a model that is scalable and replicable.

“One of the biggest challenges to fellowships across the nation is the difficulty in securing sustainable funding,” said Amber Mace, CEO of CCST. “And since the inception of CCST’s fellowship, the thinking was, ‘If California can’t do it, who can?’”

In fact, the program has served as a model for other state and national programs, inspiring at least 20 state fellowships currently in existence or under development.

Now, California has created a legacy that clearly emphasizes California policymakers’ dedication to scientific integrity and science-informed policy, as well as a commitment to opening up career opportunities for a diverse cadre of civic-minded scientists.

“This fellowship program has created a powerful pipeline,” Mace said, “enabling talented scientists and engineers to meaningfully engage in the policy-making process, launch careers in public service, and effectively strengthen California’s policies with scientific expertise, which benefits all Californians. We are so proud that the program is serving as a model for other states and is being replicated across the nation.”

As President of the Moore Foundation, Dr. Harvey Fineberg has played an indispensable role in the development and ongoing success of the fellowship.

“The State of California’s renewed investment is a smart and sensible move,” said Dr. Fineberg. “By supporting the Fellowship Endowment, the state is ensuring that California will continue to be a leader in science and innovation. This investment will help attract and support the brightest early career scientists in the world, and it will promote reliance on sound science in state policy decisions. We are grateful to the State of California for this commitment to the future of science and innovation.”

Through normalizing the integration of science with policy and increasing the demand for science, the CCST Science Fellows program has, in effect, changed the Sacramento ecosystem.

“This program has infused a relatively small town with over 150 PhD scientists from all over the country – and the world – who had the courage to step into the unknown and spend a year of service in the California capitol, learning from and working alongside policymakers,” said Mace.

The State’s investment recognizes the necessity of sustaining this science-policy connection to effectively address the growing threats of overlapping and compounding disasters that will be increasingly exacerbated by climate change.

“California’s continued investment in the CCST Science Fellowship is a testament to our commitment to harnessing the power of science and technology for the betterment of our state,” said Peter Cowhey, CCST Board Chair and Dean and Qualcomm Professor Emeritus, Global Policy and Strategy, at UC San Diego. “This funding will not only go toward training future leaders in science policy but also provide much-needed capacity to address some of California’s most pressing issues, from wildfire and climate resilience to clean energy and economic development. I applaud the state for recognizing the program’s value and for its dedication to supporting wise policy for the benefit of generations to come.”

 

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About the CCST Science & Technology Policy Fellowship
The CCST Science & Technology Policy Fellows program places PhD-level scientists, engineers, and social scientists in the California State Legislature, State Agencies, and Offices of the Governor for a year of public policy, leadership training, and public service—training scientific thinkers to be policy-savvy, while helping equip California’s decision makers with science-savvy staff. Discover how our CCST S&T Policy Fellows make a difference in California’s policy arena and learn how to apply at CCST.us/CCST-Science-Fellows-Program.

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