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RAY Marine Conservation Diversity Fellowship Program Evaluation

As a diversity fellowship program contemplated its future, Meridian provided guidance on how it could strengthen its business model to ensure long-term success.

The marine conservation field has historically seen—and largely continues to see—limited racial diversity in its workforce. The Roger Arlinger Young (RAY) Marine Conservation Diversity Fellowship is addressing this problem, supporting young people of color to become leaders in the field. During its third year of operation, the RAY Fellowship organizers asked Meridian to evaluate the fellowship’s business model and identify ways to improve the fellowship’s long-term programmatic and financial health.

The RAY Fellowship places its fellows into environmental organizations for one-year terms, providing mentorship and community. It is managed by the Environmental Leadership Program (ELP) and supported through a collaboration with host organizations and fellows that relies on a complex business model. Evaluating that model—and the fellowship’s overall performance—required engaging a range of stakeholders, synthesizing numerous perspectives, and looking at those results through a business lens in order to identify actionable insights.

With expertise in evaluation and strategic advising, Meridian was uniquely suited to analyze the current status of the fellowship program. Throughout our decades of ocean policy work, we have witnessed the lack of diversity in marine conservation firsthand through our strong relationships in the field; we used this nuanced understanding to tailor our evaluation. Ultimately, our work confirmed that the fellowship is highly valued by fellows and host organizations. In this way, it is responding to strong market demand—and, with certain adjustments, the program can realize long-term financial health. Our evaluation laid the foundation that the fellowship needed to strengthen its capacity and advance its critical mission.

Project Team

Learn more about the team that led the RAY Marine Conservation Diversity Fellowship Program Evaluation project.