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Climate Funders Justice Pledge increases funding baseline for BIPOC-led justice groups to $120M in two years


Editor’s note: In February 2021, The Kresge Foundation joined the Donors of Color Network (DOCN) campaign to challenge the nation’s top funders to be more transparent with where their U.S. climate dollars go, and took the Climate Funders Justice Pledge (CFJP) to commit at least 30% of U.S. funding to Black, Indigenous and people of color-led organizations. Currently, Kresge provides 39.1% of its climate grants to BIPOC-led organizations. The DOCN today released the following press release.

New York, NY — The Donors of Color Network – the first-ever cross-racial community of donors and movement leaders committed to building the collective power of people of color to achieve racial equity – announced Wednesday that the world-changing Climate Funders Justice Pledge has set a new funding baseline of $120 million for Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC)-led justice-focused groups.

The CFJP also announced that two inaugural pledgers, Pisces Foundation and Kresge Foundation, have risen to the challenge of the pledge and currently dedicate more than 30% of their climate giving toward BIPOC-led justice solutions, deepening their commitment to building a more effective climate movement. The CFJP announced that top funder Wallace Global Fund committed to the transparency portion of the pledge, bringing the total number of pledgers to 33. However, far too many top funders remain on the sidelines.

In the three years since an outpouring of racial justice statements made in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, the action and resource shifts necessary to back up those equity statements is sorely lacking. A scant 1.3% of U.S. climate philanthropic dollars goes to BIPOC-led environmental justice organizations. With an influx of new money in climate philanthropy, including several recent billionaire-led climate efforts, the CFJP is laser-focused on pushing the field toward equity and justice as central components of grantmaking. The recent IPCC report indicates global warming will increase by 1.5C by 2030 unless we take more drastic action to address our shared crisis.

#TakeThePledge Climate Funders Justice Pledge | Donors of Color Network“We’re out of time. Funders must take action and commit to justice as a critical component of building a more effective climate strategy,” said Isabelle H. Leighton, executive director of Donors of Color Network. “The CFJP will continue to make seismic shifts in a field that’s historically resistant to change or transparency. We call on the biggest names in climate philanthropy to put their money where their public statements are. This is more than an equity commitment; it’s how we foster a winning movement.”

The CFJP aims to push philanthropy towards racial and economic justice by challenging the nation’s top climate funders to give at least 30% of their U.S. climate funding to BIPOC-led groups and commit to greater transparency by sharing their funding percentages to BIPOC-led groups publicly.

A number of top funders have shown what’s possible in hitting these key CFJP benchmarks, substantially and consistently increasing climate funding percentages to BIPOC-led justice groups while others remain silent. Currently, the Kresge Foundation provides 39.1% of its climate grants to BIPOC-led organizations, while the Schmidt Foundation is at 30%. The Pisces Foundation has increased its funding to BIPOC-led justice groups to more than 40%, up from 17%, in just two years.

“Funding frontline communities is a key part of any strategy to win on climate change, and so an equitable funding strategy is also the most effective way to fight climate change,” said David Beckman, president of the Pisces Foundation. “At the start of this critical decade, we deepened our commitment to funding communities bearing the brunt of the climate crisis, alongside other talented advocates in the movement with a range of complementary talents. It will take everyone together, and all in, to win.”

Top foundations that have signed on to the CFJP include Kresge Foundation, Pisces Foundation, Schmidt Family Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Barr Foundation, ClimateWorks Foundation, the Energy Foundation, the Heising-Simons Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and the Wallace Global Fund. You can track the status of each funder and where they stand on the pledge on the DOCN website.

“Funders must center equity in all of our strategies and shift the funding flows to BIPOC-led organizations to ensure those most impacted are driving solutions,” said Ellen Dorsey, executive director of the Wallace Global Fund. “WGF is taking the transparency portion of the CFJP because we believe in the power of movement-led solutions to fight climate change. Funders must be transparent about their strategies, their grantees and their investments, and how they all serve to advance justice.”

“The Schmidt Foundation is all in on the CFJP. Our mission is to promote equitable, inclusive, and just solutions to climate change, and the only way we get there is by resourcing BIPOC-led climate justice groups at scale,” said Joseph Sciortino, executive director at Schmidt Family Foundation. “We strongly urge our philanthropic peers to take the pledge and make their commitment to racial equity on climate known – staying silent is a barrier to progress.”

“Foundations have a responsibility to recognize and address some of our own biases and to fund the necessary components of a dynamic and successful climate strategy. That means we must, without exception, better resource BIPOC-led climate solutions at scale,” said Rip Rapson, president and CEO of The Kresge Foundation. “As a philanthropic community, the CFJP’s 30% threshold should be viewed as a floor, not a ceiling. We will not make the progress we need to adapt to and mitigate the devastating impacts of our shared crisis without ensuring we are investing in every corner of the movement.”

The campaign has secured support from over 70 high-profile movement leaders, PhDs of color, business leaders, and members of Congress. The movement is supported by national networks like Green Latinos, Building Equity and Alignment for Environmental Justice, Climate Justice Alliance, Power Shift Network, Energy Democracy Project, and Mosaic.

“Communities of color are experiencing the most devastating impacts of climate change while working daily to advance solutions that address and mitigate our shared crisis. We are punching far above our weight in terms of the resources we are afforded,” said Mark Magana, founding president and CEO of GreenLatinos. “The CFJP forces funders to recognize this reality and pledge to real action that will enable faster progress. Every funder who does not engage will have to reckon with the severity of our crisis and their role in magnifying it.”

Ultimately, the actions we take, or more importantly do not take, in the next decade will determine whether we have a habitable planet for future generations, or social and economic calamity. In line with that urgency, the CFJP will continue to demand full accountability from the nation’s top funders. From this point forward, silence or lack of commitment from funders should be viewed as an abdication of their responsibility to address and mitigate our shared crisis. The CFJP is taking a stronger public posture in calling on all foundations to take the pledge in recognition of the fact that no winning climate strategy exists without justice. For additional details about the CFJP: