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Writer, Conservation Finance Network

Purpose

Writing for the Conservation Finance Network means following biodiversity, land management, ocean management forestry, regenerative agriculture and community-based activities around the world and telling stories that engage people who can make finance generate capital for these pursuits with more accuracy and zeal. 

Through this purpose, you’ll help the Yale Center for Business and the Environment fulfill its mission to clarify how business tools can help build a sustainable civilization and to spotlight policy approaches that unleash business innovation. You’ll also help our partners, the Conservation Finance Network and the Highstead Foundation, expand awareness and use of financial tools for land and water conservation across the United States and around the world. 

Skills you’ll build

You’ll work in three ways: tracking trends, reporting stories, and writing stories.  You’ll go through a process that we’ll document together to become fluent in finance and to focus on an area of clean energy finance that poses strong opportunities or thorny problems. 

Take a moment to absorb what questions you’ll ask as a reporter covering how the world finances its own ecosystems. Who is raising money? Who’s investing? Where are they investing and what instruments are they using? What policies affect where and how capital flows? Where should different kinds of investors place capital? How does capital flow differently in different parts of the world? We care about innovation, justice, marketing and operations, but we always couch these in financing terms.  That means we spend meaningful time on policy, because policy determines taxes and incentives (and sometimes supply and demand) that determine successful finance. 

It also means you’ll deliver stories on your own, working with a coach (who carries the title of editor), while forming and evolving frameworks with a team. This fusion of accountability and membership previews what you’ll find in the workplace. We hope it helps you build the humor, patience, empathy, diligence, and optimism you’ll need to work on conservation after Yale. 

Time you’ll dedicate

The work demands 5-10 hours per week each semester. Sometimes you’ll spend this researching, reporting, writing, rewriting and offering peer support to other writers. You’ll also read and answer weekly emails seeking story ideas and story progress.  You’ll aim to publish one or two articles each semester. You’ll always find work to do, though: when not writing, you’ll be following topics with reading and interviews, searching for sources, and supporting fellow writers.  

Changes you’ll notice

As you do this, you’ll build a command of storytelling to complement your skills as an analyst and a manager.  You’ll find patterns of expectation, innovation, oversight (as in governance), oversights (as in smart people forgetting things) and psychology. By showing these patterns through stories that feature characters, stakes and consequences, you’ll engage distracted but sympathetic professionals. You’ll coax them to smile, weep, brainstorm, advocate and bring their whole selves to the task.

You’ll see your name appear in specialized searches and generate new content to share on your professional networks. This includes cross-posting of our content in GreenBiz and other outlets. 

How you’ll get there
To capture insights that professionals look for in other publications or from their daily interactions, you’ll home in on pain points and emerging business and policy models. At the start of your work with us, we’ll start a four-week iterative process of reading and brainstorming. In your first month, you’ll conduct at least three informational interviews and take notes on things you learn that seem motivating to practitioners.  At the end of four weeks, you’ll define and set strategy for a focus area (what we will call a “beat”).  As you build your beat, you’ll build your network. 

Over time, in written reflections and calls, you’ll define the financial space and questions you’ll focus on as you narrate the breaking of barriers to a clean economy.  Student Manager(s) will steer you to social media conversations, resources, events and discussions, and  make sure your story progresses through its gates. 

While your Student Manager(s) runs point on dialogue with the editor and Editorial Team, the editor runs a semi-formal training in journalistic practice. Every week, our writing team receives an email from the editor summarizing the stories in process and what we’ve just published.  When you publish, you’ll promote your story on your personal social channels and with your colleagues.  

Every two weeks, we’ll ask you to suggest relevant news articles from other outlets to include in our bi-weekly newsletter and on our website.  As we broaden our scope, we’ll ask you to suggest news articles from countries other than the United States for this news roundup. 

Every time you share a pitch, an Editorial Team of experts from CFN’s partner organizations reviews it and offers guidance in calls and through messages from your Student Manager(s). 

Every month, we’ll gather (sometimes in person, mostly on Zoom) for a writer’s workshop and share-out session. Every couple of months, we’ll aim to connect you with CFN alums now steering innovation in the field. And every semester, we’ll publish an “Editor’s Choice” newsletter that we’ll market to editors of other publications.