Effort to fund racially diverse climate groups gathers momentum
Efforts to increase philanthropic funding for minority-led environmental organizations are gaining momentum, with pressure from a group for transparency of the country’s major climate donors with big-name backing.
For months, Donors of Color Network, a philanthropic group dedicated to funding racial equity efforts, has asked the top 40 climate funders to disclose what percentage of their funding over the past two years has gone to organizations run by Blacks, Aboriginals, Latinos and other racial groups. minorities and pledge at least 30% of their climate donations to these groups.
On Thursday, two of them – the California-based William & Flora Hewlett Foundation and the Boston-based Barr Foundation – released data showing that 10% of their climate funding went to environmental justice groups led by minorities. That number was 31% at the New York-based JPB Foundation, another prominent donor.
With the announcements, five of the top 40 donors released their data for the past two years, along with nine other smaller donors. Donors of Color says four of the top 40 donors – and a dozen other foundations – have signed on to its pledge, agreeing to meet the 30% minimum the group has set and release their fundraising data.
Advocates of environmental justice – which promotes fair treatment of racial minorities and low-income residents when dealing with environmental issues – argue that more funding for their groups is needed to win the climate change debate.
A study released last year by The New School showed that between 2016 and 2017, environmental justice groups received just 1.3% of funding for climate organizations in the Gulf and Midwest regions.
“It is essential to involve these communities in decision making (and) in solutions for the climate,” said Miya Yoshitani, executive director of the Oakland-based Asian Pacific Environmental Network and member of the Environmental Justice Advisory Board. from the White House It is important, she said, that communities “see themselves as part of the solution to this incredible and huge problem.”
The Hewlett Foundation is one of the top three donors who only accepted the transparency part of the pledge. Larry Kramer, chairman of Hewlett, said the organization had refused to pledge 30% of its climate funding to minority-led groups for reasons of “both legal and political judgment.”
“We don’t think there are magic numbers,” Kramer said. “We prefer to make our grants, be transparent about it and always work to improve ourselves. “
Kramer says the foundation is doing other things to improve the diversity among its pool of climate grant recipients, including working to diversify its own staff – and the staff of the organizations it supports.
According to the Donors of Colors Network, five of the top 40 donors declined the pledge, with some citing that their climate finance is mostly done outside the United States. Ashindi Maxton, the organization’s executive director, says the group is in conversation with more than two dozen of the other major donors about the pledge, although some say they are not signing pledges.
“No one said they didn’t agree with the ultimate goals of what we’re doing,” she said. “A lot of people just have a lot of internal machines to move around to do this.”
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