For more than 50 years, The Evergreen State College has prepared future educators, scientists, artists, entrepreneurs, and community leaders to confront the biggest challenges facing our world. One of the biggest problems we must solve together is climate change. Addressing this complex, global issue requires solutions grounded in sustainability, collaboration, and justice – values that are the foundation of an Evergreen education. Of course, values alone will not be enough. Turning cherished Evergreen ideals into action requires vision, creativity, and significant financial support. Often, that financial support comes from donors who are looking for a way to make an impact that will last for generations.
Evergreen graduates Christy Holz ’78 and Tim Ball ’80 understand what it will take to tackle climate change. The couple, who met at Evergreen, have devoted their careers to developing sustainable technologies. Together, they have helped launch more than half a dozen start-up solar companies. Now, Christy and Tom have made what might be their greatest investment yet, a $1 million gift to the Evergreen State College to establish The Evergreen Center for Climate Action and Sustainability. The center opened in September 2021 under the leadership of its first director, Dr. Anthony Levenda.
“Climate action is the greatest opportunity for entrepreneurship, leadership, and purposeful endeavor of our time,” said Holz, who serves on the Evergreen foundation’s board of governors. “Transformative change requires transformative education to understand and ultimately solve the challenges ahead. Evergreen is uniquely prepared to educate tomorrow’s leaders who can tackle this very real crisis.”
Based on Evergreen’s Olympia campus, Center for Climate Action and Sustainability is designed to equip students with the knowledge abilities they need to be climate leaders. This interdisciplinary hub of innovation will align curriculum across the arts and sciences, connect students to community partnerships, and provide internships, all with a focus on developing justice-oriented, science-based, and equitable solutions to the climate crisis. Inspired by youth leadership in global climate action, the center allows Evergreen students to explore to the causes and consequences of climate change, builds resilience in ecological, cultural, and energy systems, and prioritizes equity in the effort to study and combat this planetary threat. In true Evergreen spirit, the center recognizes that no single person or institution can save the planet alone. Indeed, it is a public laboratory for science and action, a galvanizing force for community groups, government agencies, and students and faculty to work toward solutions together.
Thanks to the landmark donation from Christy and Tim, the Center for Climate Action and Sustainability will give Evergreen students the skills and expertise to answer an urgent call to action, starting a ripple effect of hope and progress that will be felt across time and distance. At the same time, the gift is a symbol of the impact that donors can have on Evergreen and on communities everywhere. We offer our gratitude to Christy and Tim for a gift that will be felt far beyond the Evergreen campus and for many decades to come.