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Earth Day 2022: The Solutions Project scales and strengthens frontline climate solutions 

Environment

Although the climate crisis is one of the most daunting challenges of our times, there is one organization that is energized by the knowledge that we have what we need to solve it. Enter The Solutions Project (TSP). With a passion for climate justice and human-centered storytelling, TSP supports grassroots organizations through grantmaking, capacity-building, media training and engaging influencers to ensure the climate solutions created by frontline communities are celebrated and resourced at scale.  

On Earth Day April 22, The Solutions Project is taking over Kresge’s social media channels. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram to learn how TSP is driving solutions to the climate crisis by the people, for the people. 

“This Earth Day, let’s focus on intersectionality and relationships, demonstrating an understanding that our fates are connected – your fight is my fight, your joy is my joy. Mired in a world of individualism and consumerism, community is resistance. Solidarity is resistance. Change happens when we all have a voice, revitalize our connection to each other and the planet, and roll up our sleeves to build a better future together. Earth day is everyday.” ~ Gloria Walton, CEO, The Solutions Project

Founded in 2013, TSP has provided more than $28.6 million in funding and $6 million in communications services to nearly 300 grassroots organizations across the country, Puerto Rico and the sovereign tribal nations of Turtle Island. All TSP grants are directed to neighborhood-level, intersectional climate solutions, and 95% of its grantee organizations are led by women, immigrants, and people of color. The organization’s grantmaking philosophy is grounded in the principles of justice, equity, and solidarity to prioritize frontline organizations and the coalitions and alliances they anchor.

In addition to grant funding, TSP also leverages its relationships with artists and entertainers, corporations, and the media to amplify efforts led by its grantee partners; manages media campaigns that affirm its grantees’ leadership and vision; and provides its grantees with training and technical assistance on media and communications.

“We do things very differently than traditional philanthropy,” said Sekita Grant, VP of Programs. “We practice solidarity philanthropy and are a movement-accountable intermediary that helps accelerate, scale and strengthen frontline climate solutions. We see justice as the inverse of the status quo. Until there is actual equity, our CEO Gloria Walton is clear that philanthropy must over-invest in communities of color.” 

Innovative Climate Solutions

The Solutions Project has three main bodies of work:

Through its grantmaking infrastructure, TSP co-developed and hosts three independent funds to support innovation in the climate justice movement: Communicating Our Power, Fund for Frontline Power, and the Justice40 Accelerator.

Led by the Partnership for Southern Equity in collaboration with Elevate, Groundswell, The Hummingbird Firm and The Solutions Project, the Justice40 Accelerator builds the capacity of front-line community groups to apply for funding under the Justice40 Initiative.

Justice40 is a whole-of-government effort to ensure that Federal agencies work with states and local communities to make good on President Biden’s promise to deliver at least 40 percent of the overall benefits from Federal investments in climate and clean energy to disadvantaged communities.

The accelerator launched in the spring of 2021 with early seed support from The JPB Foundation; other funders then joined, including the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, and the Builders Initiative.

“Justice40 promises to right historic wrongs by ensuring that the hardest-hit communities reap the benefits of federal investments in climate and clean energy. But most front-line communities lack the capacity to navigate the federal funding maze, so the current, inequitable power structure remains intact,” wrote Laurie Mazur in a recent Inside Philanthropy article.

“If we want a different result, we need new channels for distributing resources,” said Lois DeBacker, managing director of the Kresge Foundation’s Environment Program. The Justice40 Accelerator is one such channel.

Its leadership and impact in our field stands apart in its trust among climate justice partners like the Climate Justice Alliance membership that voted to house the fully frontline-governed Fund for Frontline Power at TSP.

The Solutions Project has also received incredible validation for the quality and innovation in its grantmaking, first with a 2017 Impact Award from the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy and as one of the World’s Most Innovative Companies for 2022 by Fast Company. This year’s list honored businesses and organizations that are making the biggest impact in their industries, with TSP landing at the top of the 10 most innovative non-profit organizations.

When a climate disaster hits, the aid that comes can tend to follow a “white savior” model, with wealthy, white philanthropists and “disaster capitalists” swooping in to dictate where relief goes, or to price gouge and profit. The Solutions Project aims to be the antithesis of that approach, putting communities of color at the forefront of disaster preparedness, response, and recovery. In 2021, the nonprofit provided more than $10,000,000 in grants to more than 125 grassroots organizations led predominantly by women of color and in the South. $1.53 million specifically went to disaster resilience grants to 53 grassroots organizations in Mississippi, Texas, and Louisiana to help prepare for and respond to the February freeze infrastructure failures and Hurricane Ida. – Fast Company, The 10 most innovative non-for-profit organization of 2022

“It’s an honor to be recognized as one of the most innovative companies in the world,” said earning the Fast Company designation. “This award shows that the work The Solutions Project does – centering Black, Indigenous, immigrant, women, and People of Color communities and climate justice solutions — is being seen and heard. I am incredibly proud of our team, all women who are dedicated and passionate about creating a sustainable future where all people and nature can thrive together.”

Learn more about The Solutions Project at https://thesolutionsproject.org/. 

Kresge’s support of The Solutions Project aligns with our commitment to the Donors of Color Network Climate Funders Justice Pledge. Through this effort, we are vowing to invest at least 30% of our climate change funding in Black, Indigenous and people of color-led climate justice organizations and committing to even greater transparency in our overall funding. Several additional organizations including the Climate and Clean Energy Equity Fund, the Climate Justice Alliance, The Hive Fund for Climate and Gender Justice, the Fund to Build Grassroots Power, the BEA InitiativeNDN Collective and others are using similar models to regrant funds from large foundations to grassroots organizations led by Black, Indigenous and other people of color. Over the coming months, we will spotlight the work of several grantee partners working in this space on Kresge.org.