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Kresge commits more than $2.3M to environmental organizations in recent racial justice grantmaking effort

Environment, General Foundation News

The Kresge Foundation recently announced $30 million in grant awards to support frontline racial justice activism with $2.3 of this investment directed toward environmental organizations rallying for climate justice.

The new suite of racial justice grants represents a sharpened focus on Kresge’s longstanding racial equity investments in its focus cities of Detroit, Fresno, Memphis and New Orleans, as well as national organizations that reinforce local efforts. Kresge’s Environment Program has placed an explicit focus on racial equity with climate advocacy partners, including four environmental organizations that were included in the new cohort: Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, Inc., Gulf Coast Center for Law and Policy, Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability, and the National Black Environmental Justice Network.

“When the acute crisis of COVID-19 is behind us, we look forward to returning to something other than ‘normal.’ Normal would be decisions that repeatedly and systematically elevate capital at the expense of neighborhood health in Black and Brown neighborhoods. Normal is a false dichotomy between climate justice and jobs for BIPOC communities,” said Veronica Garibay Gonzalez, co-executive director of Leadership Counsel, in a press release announcing the new suite of grants.

Phoebe Seaton, fellow co-executive director of Leadership Counsel added, “Normal means perpetuating systemic inequalities. We can do so much better than returning to normal and we will.”

These investments marked a pivotal institutional milestone, underscoring Kresge’s belief that to expand opportunity in America’s cities, the Foundation must invest directly and strategically in community-based efforts that address systemic racism and inequality.

Here is an overview of the environmental work funded:

  • Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, Inc., New Orleans – This $825,000 general operating support grant will fund efforts to improve the lives of children and families harmed by pollution and those who are vulnerable to climate change in the Gulf Coast region. DSCEJ provides opportunities for communities, scientific researchers and decision-makers to collaborate on projects that promote the rights of all people to be free from environmental harm as it impacts health, jobs, housing, education, and general quality of life. DSCEJ also develops leaders in communities of color along the Mississippi River Chemical Corridor and the broader Gulf Coast region to become champions for racial and environmental justice. The Environment Program has supported DSCEJ since 2017 through its Climate Resilient and Equitable Water Systems (CREWS) initiative.
  • Gulf Coast Center for Law and Policy, New Orleans – This $350,000 general operating support grant provides funding to the Gulf Coast Center for Law and Policy to support Black and Indigenous leaders in their efforts to develop and implement strategies to achieve climate justice in the Gulf South. For more than 15 years, GCCLP has worked in the evolving recovery of Hurricane Katrina and subsequent storms, extreme weather and extraction disasters. GCCLP has been an integral partner to several of Kresge’s current grantees and holds the largest climate network in the Gulf South through partnerships with some of the South’s leading Black and Indigenous leaders on climate, land, water, energy, economy, and democracy.
  • Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability, Fresno – This $450,000 grant provides general operating support to the Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability for community organizing and policy advocacy in Fresno. LCJA is a longtime partner of Kresge’s Environment Program through the Climate Resilience and Urban Opportunity (CRUO) initiative as well as the Climate Change, Health and Equity (CCHE) initiative, a joint effort of Kresge’s Environment and Health Programs. Since 2013, Leadership Counsel has addressed inequities inherent in local, regional, and state governance structures by working alongside the most impacted communities to advocate for sound policy, and to ensure low-income communities and communities of color are meaningfully included in decision-making processes. In the Fresno area, these priorities include improved access to drinking water, wastewater service, and transit; enhanced pedestrian safety; and more equitable land use policies, investment programs and groundwater protection.
  • National Black Environmental Justice Network – This $750,000 grant will support a collective of over 100 national grassroots environmental justice organizations. Formed in 1999, the National Black Environmental Justice Network is the only Black-led and Black-facing environmental justice network in the country. The coalition has a longstanding history of building broad-based coalitions working at the intersection of race, health and environment. Several members of the NBEJN steering committee have been critical partners and grantees of Kresge’s Environment and Health Program portfolios, supporting efforts to address issues of climate injustice and water inequity. 

To learn more about Kresge’s full suite of racial justice grantmaking, visit kresge.org/racial-justice.

Kresge staff is working remotely, and our offices are closed until further notice.  See our promise to partners during COVID-19.
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