May 8, 2024 - Energy & Environment

BIPOC-led climate groups get bigger funding boost

Illustration of cracked dry mud with grass growing between the cracks in the shape of a dollar sign.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Exclusive: An initiative to bolster foundation support for climate groups led by people of color is showing fresh progress — and expanding.

Why it matters: Communities with large populations of Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) are often harder hit by global warming.

  • Yet BIPOC-led groups have historically received a very small share of climate philanthropy, despite frontline knowledge of problems and solutions.

Driving the news: The Climate Funders Justice Pledge on Wednesday will announce it has mobilized $135 million in commitments for BIPOC-led groups since it began working on foundation agreements in 2021.

  • They're also out with new data on specific work from grantmakers. For instance, the big William and Flora Hewlett Foundation provided 9% of its climate funding to these groups in 2021-2022, up from 4% in 2019-2020.
  • And the Grantham Foundation just agreed to boost transparency around its climate finance.

Catch up quick: The CFJP — a project of the Donors of Color Network (DOCN) — urges foundations to commit at least 30% of their climate funding to BIPOC-led groups within two years.

  • They also secure transparency pledges from funders, whether or not they've committed to 30%.
  • A suite of major donors have hit or exceeded the 30% milestone, or are making progress.
  • That's boosting resources for groups such as the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice.

The big picture: "We are seeing philanthropy be more intentional about reaching out to groups that might not have historically been within their fold. And that itself is a radical shift," said Abdul Dosunmu, who advises CFJP and DOCN

  • But more is needed as the CFJP tracks follow-through and seeks pledges from more philanthropies, he tells Axios.

Wednesday also brings a new effort to assess the wider universe of public and private funding shifts toward groups led by people of color.

  • The HBCU Green Fund is launching a research fellowship in collaboration with the DOCN. The goal: more granular data and accountability.
  • This project will also help create a "pipeline" of HBCU talent working on these topics, Dosunmu said.

The bottom line: "We're not interested in creating only a moment. We want to create a movement."

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