Partner: URI

Goals: Ripple Academy participants will transform grassroots initiatives into high-impact and scalable projects with long-term ripple effects. Technical and entrepreneurship training, a networking platform, leadership skills, and mentorship will empower participants to organize communities, mobilize resources, and launch environmental projects and campaigns. Projects could range from women’s clean cookstove microenterprises in Kenya, community seed banks in Egypt, sanitation efforts in India, to water rights in Jordan, Israel, and Palestine.

Projected Impact: 10 regional cohorts of 30 women will reach ~130,000 people each year with solutions in healthy food, clean water, land protection, peacebuilding, and much more.

Launch date: Q1, 2017

When women gather, the world changes

The Ripple Effect of Women's Leadership

Asha is a farmer and an NGO field worker from Bihar, who participated at the Women, Food Security and Climate Change Training Program, a collaboration of WEA and Gorakhpur Environmental Action Group.

Rose Wamalwa shares a story of WEA's ripple effect.



The Need

As ecological crises intensify, women are the most vulnerable, facing daily threats to their health, security, nutrition, and earnings. Women spend up to 5 hours a day gathering fuel and 73 billion hours a year fetching water for families, enduring sexual assault and violence. Climate disasters and related political instability present women with life or death challenges. What women really need — access to education, technology, training, funding — is hard to come by.

From these frontlines, women are also the best positioned to address the on-the-ground impacts. International agreements recognize the link between women’s access to resources and advancing economic prosperity, and evidence suggests that investing in women is the #1 most effective environmental and social welfare investment — yet less than 7% of global philanthropic dollars invest in women. Furthermore, traditional aid often fails women — by investing in external solutions (wells, food, etc.) with women as the “beneficiaries” rather than the core change agents. Evidence increasingly shows that this approach does not create sustainable change.

Both the Sustainable Development Goals and the watershed book “Drawdown” conclude that empowering women and girls is one of the greatest leverage points for successfully addressing climate change and humanity’s resilience. When women’s knowledge is centered, and they can access needed resources, networks, and visibility, everyone benefits. Local economies prosper, democracy strengthens, health and education improve, and ecosystems vital to our survival regenerate. Peace, prosperity, and planetary health are inextricably linked, and women are the glue that brings these vital components together.

The Ripple Academy answers a call for support from WEA’s network of grassroots leaders poised to link regional solutions and coordinate change on a global scale. It is the only platform that focuses on developing, bridging and elevating women’s environmental solutions, while also supporting women’s livelihoods. Their work is urgent: they are preserving indigenous seeds key to our survival; introducing clean cookstoves that save lives and reduce deforestation; modeling regenerative farming practices that will feed our planet; protecting our dwindling water sources; staving off destructive and toxic energy extraction; and shaping cultures of peace.


The Project

The Ripple Academy invests 100% in the long-term leadership of women working at the grassroots to protect communities’ natural resources, livelihoods, and health, because we know that when women thrive, the earth thrives.

The Ripple Academy scales the success of WEA’s model — developed over more than a decade of supporting grassroots women leaders at the verge of scaling critical solutions — by guiding multiple cohorts of women leaders through the year-long WEA training with a combination of regional gatherings and online education to exponentially advance women’s environmental solutions and influence global environmental goals. Through the Ripple Academy, women learn professional development, leadership, and entrepreneurship skills from global faculty, regional experts, and peers.

The Ripple Academy is…

  • Designed collaboratively by a global team dedicated to healing societal challenges, centering the leadership of women, and catalyzing environmental protection.
  • Focused on action and solutions designed by trusted grassroots leaders who have track records of success and are poised to create broader impacts.
  • A participatory curriculum of practical skills for creating far-reaching solutions that integrate environmental protection, peacebuilding, and justice.
  • An in-person and online learning platform to strengthen alliances among leaders across borders and share replicable solutions.


Ripple Academy Updates

  • Our design committee comprised of a global team of grassroots and organizational development leaders is building off of best practices from our combined 35 years of training programming. Over the last year, we carried out user surveys and listening sessions to build a light-framed and flexible curriculum framework. We are now piloting the Ripple Academy through a series of “Learning Labs” in India, Jordan, Kenya and Chile in 2018 to generate direct input from participants, refine the curriculum, and strengthen the design for greatest impacts.
  • We are designing the Ripple Academy Impact Dashboard, a data visualization tool based on a unique set of metrics that mix global- and community-designed measures of success, such as Sustainable Development Goals, the W+ Standard, qualitative stories of change, and more.



Our Partnership

WEA’s founding partner in the Ripple Academy is United Religions Initiative (URI), the world’s largest interfaith grassroots network working in 104 countries to cultivate peace by bridging religious and cultural differences. URI brings a network of 600+ “Cooperation Circles” who are engaged in social change and expert conflict resolution/peacebuilding strategies.

WEA and URI have nurtured networks of committed grassroots leaders in a combined 100 countries over 28 years. Our organizations come together at a critical time — when efforts to build bridges across nations, learn from each other, and activate people power are needed more than ever. Our partnership enables both organizations to reach deeper and wider, catalyzing a global ripple effect that begins in our communities. The time is now.




Get Our Updates

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.