Stanford University and Yale University / Conservation Finance Bootcamp

Initiative Description and Primary Objectives 

Conservation Finance Boot Camp is a week-long training program that began 6 years ago at Yale and takes place annually - rotating between east and west coast locations. The objective of the program is to help land conservation professionals find funding for land conservation through a week-long program reviewing cutting-edge tools and techniques.  Participants learn up-to-date, innovative, and successful tools available for land conservationists, work directly with experienced faculty to solve challenging financing issues, build a network of peers working in conservation finance across the United States, and bring a wealth of practical, hands-on information to their land conservation projects.

Key Academic Disciplines 

Finance & Business

Key Partner Organizations and Individuals 
  • Peter Stein at the Lyme Timber Company
  • Story Clark  at Conservation Consulting
  • Island Press
  • Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment
  • Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies
Initiative History and Champions 

This effort is an outgrowth of a meeting held in 2005 at The Lincoln Institute to explore the need for additional in-depth exposure to emerging conservation finance techniques for land trust professionals.

Distinctiveness and Strategic Significance of the Initiative 

Techniques for raising conservation dollars have grown very sophisticated. In this program, experts present the latest and best thinking on conservation funding mechanisms in a hands-on, interactive format that provides both intellectual enrichment and inspiration and hands-on advice.  

The intensive Conservation Finance Camp offers conservation practitioners a wide range of innovative funding and financing tools, as well as a framework for analyzing and packaging them for maximum value. The course covers cutting-edge sources of philanthropic funds, private investment and public capital, with an emphasis on practical, hands-on tools and lessons from applicable case studies.

The sessions feature presentations from national conservation finance experts and supplementary exercises guided by a knowledgeable core faculty. Speakers focus on emerging topics such as innovative partnerships, market-based opportunities, multiple bottom line investment strategies and their on-the-ground applications. The core faculty are: Story Clark (Conservation Consulting); (Brad Gentry, Center for Business and the Environment at Yale); and Peter Stein (The Lyme Timber Company).

Measurable Effectiveness of the Initiative 

The course offers attendees in-depth information about innovative funding and financing sources, as well as advice on their own conservation projects from experts. Time is allotted to network with fellow participants, many of whom are experienced conservation leaders, as well as with presenters. Highly beneficial, long-term professional relationships and support networks among attendees and presenters have grown out of past courses.  Evaluations from past participants provide concrete testimonials about how the program has helped participants tackle larger conservation deals than they had tried in the past and look for new sources of funds and new partners than they had thought of doing before the program. 

Transferability of the Initiative 

This highly interactive course is limited to 20 participants. The small class size allows for intensive networking and information sharing. Past attendees have included U.S. and international conservationists, foundation leaders, land trust board members, executive directors and staff, private investors, business executives making the transition into conservation, and graduate students.

Participants return home to tackle challenging conservation funding challenges armed with new skills and a new network of professional peers who they can work with. Land conservation professionals around the country can benefit from the lessons and skills offered at this program and from the network of professional colleagues that they meet during their training program.

The Initiative’s Ability to Endure 

It is likely to continue for 5+ years based on demand and funding. The program does require external funding.

Engagement Strategies 

The week-long training agenda is full of expert speakers from the conservation field and case studies from many organizations. In addition, faculty from the host universities speak as well.