About Napier

The Napier Initiative is a partnership between Pilgrim Place and the five undergraduate 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 inclusive society, and for environmental sustainability. Upon the deaths 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.

The intergenerational mentoring program links Napier Fellows interested in exploring vocations for social change with elders at Pilgrim Place who have built a lifetime of experience, leadership, and professional skills in work for social justice, environmental sustainability, and peacemaking.  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 Napier Initiative offers as its primary programs:

The Napier Awards for Creative Leadership

  • 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 immediately after graduation. The nominees gather several times during the year and are invited to find a mentor from among the Pilgrim Place residents for the coming year.

  • The Napier Mentors:  Napier Fellows and mentors gather several times during the year.  Mentors are retirees who have had a lifetime of experience and leadership in national and international social justice endeavors.  Mentors provide support and encouragement to Napier Fellows in numerous ways.  For many Napier Fellows, their senior year in college is an opportunity to discern their future vocational goals.  Pilgrim Place mentors have provided a sympathetic listening ear and reflection on life experience which enhances the process for many Fellows.  In some cases, mentors have been able to assist Fellows by identifying local leaders with an interest in the proposed project, like-minded individuals working on similar projects in other locations and possible financial resources.  Close mutually supportive friendships have been established between mentors and Fellows.

  • The Napier Awards: In 2020-2021 we invite proposals of any amount up to a maximum of $15,000.


The Napier Courses


  • At the invitation of the colleges faculty, the Napier Initiative has stimulated intergenerational learning in designated courses. "Elder" participants are co-learners with the undergraduate students participating fully in the academic coursework, thus creating a rich intergenerational dynamic that enlivens both students and elders. Five Napier courses are offered:

Religion, Ethics, and Social Practice - Pomona College

HIV/AIDS: Science, Society and Service - Harvey Mudd College

Feminism and Science - Pomona College

Gender Crime and Punishment - Pomona College

Political Economy of Food - Scripps College

Napier Initiative