Apply now to join our next cohort of Community Science Fellows and Community Leads!

Community Leads

Community science projects start with your community’s voice and end in meaningful community impact. Conversations, projects and actions are directed by local goals and objectives. Working together, we explore how Earth and space science can advance your community’s priorities, and we co-design a project that can make a tangible impact in 6 to 18 months. We match you with a volunteer scientist, chosen for their technical and collaborative skills, and we guide you through a process that produces results.

Am I eligible to be a Community Lead with Thriving Earth Exchange?  

As a community lead with Thriving Earth Exchange. . .

. . . I am an active member of an underrepresented community who I wish to represent. From grassroots groups to local governments and communities of faith, any community can launch a community science project. Thriving Earth Exchange prioritizes supporting communities who are underserved and marginalized by science, including Indigenous communities, environmental justice communities, rural communities, and more. Community leads are not expected to hold a formal leadership role or elected position.

. . . I tackle a community priority that can be advanced by Earth and space science. The pro bono support that Thriving Earth provides is well suited for advancing community priorities related to natural resources, natural hazards, environment health, climate change, and so on. Thriving Earth Exchange invites communities to apply with one to three initial project ideas.

. . . I dedicate at least 2 hours per week to the project. Community leads serve as the primary point of contact for their volunteer project managers and should have the availability to commit at least two hours per week to the project.

What does it mean to be a Community Lead? 

As a community lead, your work with Thriving Earth Exchange includes:

  • Sharing about your community and its priorities via an Intro Call
  • Identifying ways Earth and space science can advance your priorities, whether that is environmental monitoring, coping with severe weather, preparing for hazards, enhancing sustainability and resilience, etc.
  • Designing a 6-18 month project with a volunteer project manage
  • Checking in at least monthly with your project team
  • Maintaining open communication with the Thriving Earth Exchange team, including individualized troubleshooting
  • Supporting preparation of a compelling project summary at the conclusion of the project
  • Identifying opportunities to share your project results at a regional, national, and/or global level

In order to get the most out of your project, we ask each community to:

  • Designate a community lead who will be the primary point of contact with the scientist(s) and Thriving Earth Exchange staff
  • Contribute actively to all project activities for the duration of the collaboration
  • Identify and leverage opportunities to engage the wider community with the project and its implementation
  • Engage actively within the Thriving Earth Exchange community, offering advice and experience to other project teams
  • Agree to prepare a project summary to be shared with other Thriving Earth Exchange projects, community leads, and scientists

This process is tailored according to the priorities of each community. As much as possible, we connect community leads to share process and outcomes and transfer impactful approaches.

Launch Your Own Thriving Earth Exchange Project

Communities from around the work of any type and size are encouraged to submit a local issue and/or project idea related to natural hazards, natural resources, or climate change. Any community can start a Thriving Earth project. All we ask is that you commit the time and energy needed to work hand-in-hand with a volunteer scientist.


Questions or ideas? Email our program at [email protected] or call us at (202) 777-7309 to talk through your idea for a project. We look forward to hearing from you!