As a 2016 Goldman Fellow, Nicola Salzman had the opportunity to work with the St. Louis Public School District (SLPS) while engaging with other undergraduate students and exploring the St. Louis region. The Goldman Fellows Program, funded by the Joyce and Irving Goldman Family Foundation, provides undergraduate students with a distinctive cohort environment and non-profit and public service career experience. Participants secure unpaid summer internships in the St. Louis region and receive $5000 summer stipends to cover living expenses.
Nicola interned with sustainability and facilities staff at SLPS. “I saw sustainability and specifically energy efficiency projects as a great way to reduce costs for the district so they have more money for their highest priorities, including academics, programming for children, and resources for staff,” she reflected. “Every day, school systems require high quantities of electricity, natural gas, water, and other resources. When I started as an intern, SLPS paid over $10 million annually for utilities, an enormous amount of money that accounts for a significant chunk of its yearly budget.”
Over the course of the summer, Nicola prepared a comprehensive master plan with research on best practices of school districts that champion sustainability and a master plan with recommended engagement, policy, and technology changes for increased energy efficiency and district-wide cost savings. Recommendations included the addition of an environmental curriculum and green team, updates to HVAC system settings, the consolidation of major common area appliances, and a switch to energy-efficient LED lighting. In total, her policy and maintenance change savings were estimated at an astounding $605,892.
In addition to developing a master plan for SLPS, Nicola met weekly with the Goldman Fellows cohort. “I loved our group excursions to St. Louis neighborhoods,” she shared. “We met with local experts who explained the history of the neighborhoods. Between excursions, we met on campus, discussing readings and hearing from other speakers. Our discussions were incredibly informative.”
Nicola’s experience as a Goldman Fellow was deeply impacted by her peers. “I appreciated the other cohort members and their interests, which ranged from public policy to mental health and mediation. I learned about a range of social causes and how to get involved with local organizations. The cohort experience broadened my perspective.”
The Goldman Fellows Program also influenced Nicola’s next step after college. “During the internship, I learned that I love meeting with people and helping develop them develop organizational plans. Nicola began looking at sustainability consulting options and has accepted a job as Associate Consultant at Bain & Company. “I brought my SLPS plan to the job interview, and it contributed to my success as a candidate,” she summed. “I am very thankful for the Goldman Fellows Program and how it has prepared me for this next step.”
Applications for the 2017 Goldman Fellows Program are open now through Monday, April 3, at 5 p.m. To learn more and apply, click here.