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About the Napier Initiative

The Napier Initiative for Creative Change 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.​

Pilgrim Place, faculty and staff designated by the five undergraduate Claremont Colleges and representatives from the wider Claremont community provide leadership for the Initiative. 

The Napier Initiative offers two primary programs:

Fellowships and Awards


An 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 fostering social justice for all people, caring for our fragile Earth home, and nurturing peace and reconciliation.​

  • Napier Fellows: Each of the five undergraduate Claremont Colleges may nominate up to three seniors to be Napier Fellows each October. 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. Nominees are invited to find a mentor from among the Pilgrim Place residents for the coming year, and are also considered for post-graduation awards to carry out their projects.

  •  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 provide 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 2023-2024 the Napier Initiative will make two Awards at $20,000 each.


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:


Currently Offered:

Effective Learning Across the Lifespan - Claremont McKenna - Fall 2023

Philosophy of Feminism - Scripps - Fall 2023​



For more information go to courses.

Our Mission 

The Napier Initiative promotes intergenerational leadership in

fostering justice for all people,

caring for our fragile Earth,

nurturing peace and reconciliation, through partnerships between Pilgrim Place and the five undergraduate Claremont Colleges.

Core Commitments


The Napier Initiative seeks:

To tap the unprecedented growth of the elder population as a rich societal resource;


To increase the mutually rewarding possibilities that can be unleashed through collaborative learning between elders and college students;


To recognize and provide material support for students who are engaged in positive social change;


To develop effective intergenerational interactions which encourage students to make enduring vocational commitments to leadership as change makers for justice and equity;


To encourage alumnae/i of the Napier Initiative to create networks of mutual support; and


To offer a welcoming meeting-ground for faculty and staff members from the five undergraduate Claremont Colleges who share our core values and work to support them on the campuses.

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