Below are some of the movement allies who have counseled, advised, and supported the Donors of Color Network in launching the Climate Funders Justice Pledge. They are just a few of the hundreds of justice organizations run by, serving, and building power in communities of color in the fight against climate change.
Founded in 1991, the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance (NYC-EJA) is a non-profit, 501(c)3 citywide membership network linking grassroots organizations from low-income neighborhoods and communities of color in their struggle for environmental justice. NYC-EJA empowers its member organizations to advocate for improved environmental conditions and against inequitable environmental burdens by the coordination of campaigns designed to inform City and State policies. Through their efforts, member organizations coalesce around specific common issues that threaten the ability for low-income communities of color to thrive.
“Communities of color don’t need to be granted agency – we have been fighting for our planet and for our own communities for decades. We are in a climate crisis that demands we work together to find solutions that work. Yet too often, innovative and impactful solutions developed by leaders of color see those solutions marginalized or ignored. Top philanthropies who overlook the outsized impact that people of color-led groups across this country have on climate every day are forfeiting opportunities to be truly transformational,” said Eddie Bautista, Executive Director of NYC-EJA.
“The Climate Funders Justice Pledge encourages funders to harness the power of an already expansive movement that is winning. I hope that funders step up to the plate and make good on their public commitments to racial justice by directing climate dollars where it’s most effective – Black, Indigenous, and people of color-led groups on the frontlines.”
Founded in 1991, the Asian Pacfic Environmental Network (APEN) works to build the power of Asian immigrant and refugee communities. People have a right to a clean and healthy environment in which their communities can thrive, and APEN brings organizers together to develop an agenda to bring fundamental changes for environmental, social, and economic justice.
Executive Director Miya Yoshitani says, “Our vision is clear: To be accountable to the working-class communities of color leading the fight for our families, our neighborhoods and our environment where we live, work, and play. To embrace solutions that come directly from the frontlines.”
The core of APEN’s work is bringing together Asian immigrants and refugees in Oakland and Richmond, CA to advance solutions to the issues that matter most to them. At the state level, APEN organizes in communities that politicians and political parties often ignore, and are helping to establish groundbreaking policies that put working-class communities of color first. In the 2000s, Chinese workers organized at the A.X.T. electronics factory in Fremont, where owners knowingly exposed workers to arsenic dust at 21 times the legal limit. APEN helped those workers to win compensation and lifetime health screenings and a court ruled that the company must comply with workplace health and safety requirements.
Front and Centered is the largest coalition of communities of color-led groups in the Pacific Northwest, whose diverse missions and work come together at the intersection of equity, environmental and climate justice. Front and Centered actively works towards the vision for a Just Transition – a future where communities of color and the earth are healed and thriving, people have dignified work, and the government values, resprects, and represents communities of color.
“As the largest coalition of POC-led organizations in the Pacific Northwest region, and the only one focused on fighting climate change, Front and Centered is intimately familiar with two things: first, the immense value and potential of unearthing the wisdom from the lived experience of our communities, and second, the barriers to marshalling resources across our over 70 organizations. We believe the reforms called for via the Donors of Color Network’s Climate Funders Justice Pledge are a necessary first step for the philanthropic community to become effective climate funders, and we are excited to help,” said Community Council Co-Chairs Rosalinda Guillen and Yolanda Matthews.
The California Environmental Justice Alliance (CEJA) is a statewide alliance of grassroots organizations that works to achieve environmental justice by advancing policy solutions. CEJA unites the powerful local organizing of frontline residents – Black, Latinx, Asian and Pacific Islander, low-income and immigrant communities – to create comprehensive opportunities for change at a statewide level. CEJA builds the power of working class communities of color to create policies that will alleviate poverty and pollution. Together, CEJA is growing the statewide movement for environmental health and a Just Transition off of fossil fuels.
“At CEJA, we know the power and wisdom of frontline residents to build equitable solutions for our housing, public health, and climate crises. Funders have a responsibility to resource these solutions – not as an afterthought, but as a critical piece of building a winning climate movement. The Climate Funders Justice Pledge is a catalyst for that much needed shift in philanthropy as we fight to phase out fossil fuels and dirty energy and prioritize people and communities over corporate profit,” said Interim Co-Director Denise Forrest.
The Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy (GCCLP) is a non-profit, public interest law firm and justice center with a mission to advance structural shifts toward climate justice and ecological equity in communities of color on the frontline of climate change, and provide a Southern perspective on issues that have national impact and global influence.
GCCLP began as a program of Moving Forward Gulf Coast, Inc. in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita more than a decade ago. Since then, GCCLP has become a national leader in climate disaster recovery by serving thousands of residents throughout Louisiana, Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida through its disaster legal services, community programming, and human rights-based training.
To advance the work needed in impacted regions towards climate and racial justice, in 2019 GCCLP launched Gulf South for a Green New Deal (GS4GND) in partnership with over 200 organizations across the Gulf South. Colette Pichon Battle, Executive Director of GCCLP, says, “With the Gulf South for a Green New Deal initiative, Gulf South communities identify and develop the solutions needed for recovery and the transition to a healthier, more just economy and a collective vision for a sustainable future.” GS4GND is a formation of both policy development and organizing towards creating a Green New Deal inclusive of the Gulf South.
MISSION: Indigenous Environmental Network is an alliance of Indigenous Peoples whose shared mission is to protect the sacredness of Mother Earth from contamination and exploitation by respecting and adhering to traditional Indigenous knowledge and natural law. Established in 1990 within the United States and in recent years working globally, IEN was formed by grassroots Indigenous Peoples to address environmental and economic justice issues. IEN’s activities include building the capacity of Indigenous communities and tribal governments to develop mechanisms to protect sacred sites, land, water, air, natural resources, the health of both people and all living things, and to build economically sustainable communities.
APPROACH: IEN accomplishes this by maintaining an informational clearinghouse, organizing campaigns, direct actions and public awareness, building the capacity of community and tribes to address EJ issues, development of initiatives to impact policy, and building alliances among Indigenous communities, tribes, inter-tribal and Indigenous organizations, BIPOC organizations, faith-based and women’s groups, youth, labor, environmental organizations, and others.
Keep It In The Ground Campaign Organizer Dallas Goldtooth says, “Our work is a balancing act between fighting against extractive systems and fighting for regenerative ones to take its place. Furthermore, a transition to 100 percent renewables doesn’t necessarily guarantee that poor and working-class communities will have access to basic needs. When we talk about a just transition, we are talking about a future in line with the principles of Indigenous and human rights, social justice and environmental justice.”
GreenLatinos is an active comunidad of Latino leaders, emboldened by the power and wisdom of our culture, united to demand equity and dismantle racism, resourced to win our environmental, conservation, and climate justice battles, and driven to secure our political, economic, cultural, and environmental liberation.
It convenes a broad coalition of Latino leaders committed to addressing national, regional and local environmental, natural resources and conservation issues that significantly affect the health and welfare of the Latino community in the United States.
GreenLatinos is an inclusive space for members to foster collaborative partnerships to improve the environment, protect and promote conservation of land and natural resources, amplify the voices of low-income and tribal communities, as well as empower future generations of Latino environmental leaders through training and mentorship for the benefit of the Latino community and beyond.
Of the CFJP, Mark Magaña, founding president and CEO of Green Latinos said, “Let’s acknowledge a truth: communities of color are receiving pennies on the dollar compared to other big groups and that’s just not an effective strategy to win. We’re creating a new minimum expectation for funding that will finally begin to create an equitable landscape and provide the resources for our communities to take on and win more battles.”
Building Equity and Alignment for Environmental Justice (BEA) envisions a future in which grassroots groups lead and inform environmental movements. BEA’s mission is to foster authentic cross-sector relationships within grassroots environmental justice organizations, national environmental organizations and philanthropy. BEA shifts power and resources from institutions to grassroots leadership as they work to transform the environmental movement.
Led by the grassroots movement and guided by the Jemez Principles for Democratic Organizing, BEA invites philanthropy and national organizations to listen loudly to truths from communities of color, enabling the breakdown of historical barriers that exclude frontline groups from accessing resources and power.
“We are proud to see BEA’s landscape assessment being leveraged to challenge and call in other foundations to make changes to their grantmaking.” said BEA Project Director, Tina Broder. “Climate Funders Justice Pledge encourages a similar shift in power, strengthening the relationships between top climate funders and the organizations whose work has an outsized impact on the climate fight every single day.”
Recent Work and Wins:
MISSION: Climate Justice Alliance (CJA) is a coalition of 74 urban and rural frontline community organizations and supporting networks in the climate justice movement. Formed in 2013 to create a new center of gravity in the climate movement and comprised of Indigenous Peoples, African American, Latinx, Asian Pacific Islander, and poor white communities who share legacies of racial and economic oppression, CJA mobilizes to move away from extractive systems of production, consumption and political oppression, and towards resilient, regenerative, and equitable economies.
APPROACH: CJA members work to address climate change’s impacts and are vital communities in a growing movement that is both demanding bold action by government and industry to confront climate change and organizing a Just Transition on the ground toward sustainable, resilient, regenerative economies. Through their dual strategy of stopping the bad while building the new, they address root causes of climate change, generations of environmental and climate injustice, and inequitable access to resources to implement Just Transition solutions.
Steering Committee Co-Chair of CJA Elizabeth Yeampierre says “Climate change is the child of a history of colonialism, slavery, and extraction of frontline communities — thinking you can fight it without justice is an affirmation of patriarchy and white supremacy.”
To discern whether a proposed climate solution works for frontline communities, workers, and the planet, utilize the 4 basic questions in the People’s Solutions Lens – Who makes the decisions? Who benefits? What else will this impact? How does this build or shift power?
Power Shift Network (PSN) mobilizes the collective power of young people to mitigate climate change and create a just, clean energy future and resilient, thriving communities for all. Young people today face a world in crisis: a broken political system, deepening inequality, entrenched and emboldened racism, and a catastrophically changing climate. But PSN is building a strong, intersectional, bottom-up movement to take on the climate crisis, shift the power, and change the system. Network members are working to combat climate and environmental injustice, stop dirty energy projects, divest from fossil fuels, and build the just, clean-energy powered future young people need.
“The United States and the global north have defined success through competition and domination of the earth and its control of people. As we’re working to establish a new paradigm, it’s essential that we work for a climate justice where the people most immediately and directly impacted are able to lead the movement towards a brighter future for everyone. Racism has been such a key tool in the exploitation of people and the planet that has brought us to this point, I’m so excited for the development of this new campaign, where people who understand the impacts of that racism are able to direct funding to strengthen our movement,” said Co-Executive Director Dany Sigwalt.