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$8.4 million in new grants to combat climate change, improve health in low-income communities

Environment, Health

The Kresge Foundation has awarded $8.4 million in new grants to 14 community-based nonprofit organizations as part of its Climate Change, Health & Equity (CCHE) initiative. With this funding, each grantee partner will work to advance policy solutions aimed at helping cities combat and adapt to climate change, while equitably reducing health risks for low-income communities.

This investment aims to strengthen community-based leadership on climate change, one of three strategies in Kresge’s CCHE initiative. It also reinforces the foundation’s belief that climate change is a threat multiplier that affects every aspect of our lives. As the newest – and arguably most important – social determinant of health, climate change is the greatest public health threat of this century.

“While we are all affected, the painful truth is low-income communities and communities of color are disproportionately at risk due to existing social, economic and health inequities,” said Lois DeBacker, managing director of the foundation’s Environment Program. “But progress is possible, especially when we resource those closest to the problem to be part of the solution. These organizations around the country are doing crucial work to shift policies, systems and practices that will have a lasting impact on climate, health and racial equity and will help to create a more just planet for everyone.”

“By working together, we can drive systemic change and improve the health and well-being of all communities – particularly Black, Indigenous and other communities of color whose health outcomes are disproportionately affected by environmental hazards and climate impacts,” said Monica Valdes Lupi, managing director of Kresge’s Health Program.

Each community-based organization will receive a $600,000 grant to work with identified partners from other sectors, including health institutions and practitioners, over the next three years to implement policy advocacy and organizing efforts that directly address community-defined health and climate priorities.

Grantees include:

Recognizing climate change is one of the most important social determinants of health, Kresge’s Health and Environment programs partnered to launch the CCHE Initiative in early 2019. Through the initiative, which builds on years of work Kresge has supported to accelerate action on climate change and equitably reduce health disparities, the foundation is working together with hospitals, health care systems, public health departments, health practitioners, community-based climate advocates and others to advance policies and practices that improve community health while helping cities address climate change mitigation and adaptation concurrently.

In addition to receiving grant funding, cohort partners will also receive capacity-building and  technical assistance support and engage in peer-learning activities through participation in the initiative’s learning community supported by the Institute for Sustainable Communities (ISC), Metropolitan Group and Center for Story-based Strategy.

ISC serves as the national program office for the Climate Change, Health & Equity initiative, supporting the overall management of the initiative. The organization’s mission is to help communities around the world address environmental, economic and social challenges to build a better future shaped and shared by all. Metropolitan Group, a full-service social change agency that provides strategic communications, intercultural engagement and organizational strategy and innovation, will work with CCHE grantees across the initiative to leverage their voices to address climate change and health impacts while advancing racial and economic equity. The Center for Story-based Strategy will also support the cohort CCHE community-based grantees by providing a series of narrative training sessions that integrate storytelling, grassroots leadership, organizing and power building.

In addition, Ross Strategic provides evaluation support to the CCHE initiative to help inform management of the initiative. The CCHE initiative is also supported by an external advisory committee that includes national field leaders across sectors that bring expertise in climate science, public health, environmental health and justice, racial equity, community organizing, and strategic communications.

To learn more about each grantee partner, or the overall Climate Change, Health & Equity initiative, click here.