About Us

How we got started

What is Change the Course?

Change the Course had a serendipitous beginning – an inspired phone conversation between lifelong freshwater conservationist Sandra Postel and environmental entrepreneur Todd Reeve. Sandra, director of the Global Water Policy Project and freshwater fellow of the National Geographic Society, desired to engage the public and the business community in restoring rivers. Todd, then VP, Watersheds and now CEO of the Bonneville Environmental Foundation, had developed an innovative product called a Water Restoration Certificate® that allows water restored to nature to be tracked, certified and registered. During a two-hour brainstorm in the spring of 2011, they created the model for Change the Course.

Through the creative work of teams at the Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF), the National Geographic Society and Participant Media, Change the Course has grown to become a first-of-its-kind national water initiative that has restored billions of gallons of water to depleted ecosystems. Change the Course brings together the public, corporations, and on-the-ground conservation organizations to raise awareness about freshwater, reduce water footprints, and restore flows and health to vital freshwater ecosystems. For every personal pledge to conserve, Change the Course returns 1,000 gallons of water to an ecosystem in need –restoration made possible by corporate sponsors that wish to balance their own water footprints. Under the leadership of Val Fishman, BEF’s Chief Development Officer, we also work closely with our sponsors to develop customized engagement programs for employees, clientele, students and other stakeholders. Our conservation partners design and implement innovative projects that restore flows, expand habitats for fish and wildlife, boost water efficiency, and enhance overall water security. In this way, Change the Course creates a virtuous cycle of freshwater education, conservation and restoration.

In 2015 Change the Course completed a successful multi-year pilot in the Colorado River Basin that supported 17 restoration projects, from headwater rivers in the Rocky Mountains to the Colorado Delta in Mexico, attracted 20 diverse corporate sponsors, and engaged more than 140,000 people through conservation pledges. Change the Course is now expanding throughout North America.


What is BEF?

BEF develops and implements programs that generate measurable environmental benefits at the intersection of energy and water. We deploy a portfolio of programs, products, and services that advance renewable energy and achieve water stewardship. BEF pioneers new entrepreneurial programs and products that deliver economic and environmental value to partner corporations, utilities, and the public. Our Core Values are Partnership, Innovation, Knowledge, Stewardship, and Integrity. To learn more visit b-e-f.org.


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