The Napier Initiative is a partnership between Pilgrim Place and the five Claremont Colleges to encourage leadership for social change. Inspiration for this particular partnership has come from the lives of two former residents of Pilgrim Place, Davie and Joy Napier, who were much admired across the United States for their prophetic leadership in working for world peace, for a just and racially inclusive society, and for environmental sustainability. Upon the death of Joy and Davie, their family, former students, and Pilgrim Place residents honored them by creating a memorial fund dedicated to the fellowships and programs of the Napier Initiative.
Students with interest and experience in working for peace, social justice, and environmental sustainability connect with residents of Pilgrim Place who have life experience and professional skills in those fields.In turn, the students invigorate the ongoing justice work of the retired residents of Pilgrim Place. Leadership for the Initiative is given by Pilgrim Place, faculty members designated by the five Claremont Colleges, and representatives from the wider Claremont community.
This intergenerational Initiative offers as its primary programs:
- The Napier Fellows: Each of the Claremont Colleges may nominate annually in the fall up to three seniors to be Napier Fellows. These are students who have proven ability to give leadership in social change and are proposing a project they would like to carry out after graduation. All those nominated gather at Pilgrim Place several times and are invited to find a mentor there for the coming year.
- The Napier Awards: Each year two of the Napier Fellows will be awarded $10,000. to help them carry out their proposed projects.
- Intergenerational class participation: The Initiative assists college professors who would like to identify elders with particular skills or experiences to participate in their courses in various ways. One course, open to all the colleges, is now co-led by a professor and a Pilgrim Place resident; a group of elders is fully integrated into the class.
- The Napier Medalist: At the annual awards banquet, the Napier Medal is awarded to a distinguished person who exemplifies the values of the Napier Initiative.