June 10, 2021

Climate Funders Justice Pledge Releases New Data As Top Funders Fulfill Transparency Commitment; Many Others Remain Silent

Jess Montejano

The Kresge Foundation, Pisces Foundation, The Libra Foundation, and more publicly share funding percentages dedicated to BIPOC-led justice groups for 2019-2020

New York, NYDonors of Color Network (DOCN) – 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 – today released new funding data from inaugural pledgers who have fulfilled the transparency portion of the groundbreaking Climate Funders Justice Pledge (CFJP). The pledge asks funders to commit to greater transparency by reporting their climate funding data publicly and directing at least 30 percent of their United States-based climate funding to Black, Indigenous, and people of color-led (BIPOC) justice-focused groups within two years to build a winning climate movement.

A 2020 study found that of the $1.34 billion awarded to twelve national environmental funders, only 1.3 percent goes to environmental justice and BIPOC-led justice-focused groups. To date, the funders below have fulfilled the transparency portion of the CFJP to report their 2019-20 funding allocation to BIPOC-led groups within three months of the original pledge.

Although a number of the funders listed are above the 30 percent threshold, they represent leaders in a climate sector where single-digit percentage funding toward BIPOC-led climate justice is the norm. Every foundation that has taken the CFJP since the launch in February has committed to fulfilling the transparency portion of the pledge. With a current total of twenty foundations – including seven of the top forty climate funders – additional funding data will be released publicly in the coming months.    

“Top climate funders continue to blatantly under-resource the BIPOC-led organizations who have an outsized impact in the fight against climate change every day. But it’s crystal clear that we will not win if we leave the power of communities of color on the table,” said Ashindi Maxton, Executive Director of DOCN. “We created the Climate Funders Justice Pledge as a way for foundations to match their public sentiments on racial justice with their funding practices, and to strive toward better over a two year period if their finding practices are missing the mark. For funders who haven’t signed on or refuse to submit their numbers: what’s holding you back?”

BIPOC-led climate justice groups are consistently overlooked and under-resourced by the philanthropic sector. CFJP aims to move the center of climate philanthropy towards racial and economic justice, shifting hundreds of millions of dollars toward a winning climate movement that champions racial and economic justice. Many of the top 40 climate foundations have yet to sign on to the pledge or share their funding numbers.

“I know firsthand that top foundations are not resourcing BIPOC-led groups, who have been at the forefront of fighting climate change, at scale. It’s been that way for decades,” said Miya Yoshitani, Executive Director of the Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN) and member of the Biden Administration’s newly formed Environmental Justice Advisory Council. “But the Climate Funders Justice Pledge and its transparency requirement is forcing a real shift to take place in climate philanthropy. If more funders follow the lead of top forty foundations like Kresge and Pisces in getting serious about addressing racial and economic inequality in climate through open and honest funding, then we could meet the scale of change needed to win on climate.”

New funders are also taking the pledge, including top 40 funder The Barr Foundation (to the transparency portion) – which focuses on advancing equitable solutions for clean energy, mobility, and resilient communities – and the Ceres Trust – which focuses on grassroots leadership and organizing, equity, and movement building toward transformational change.

“The goal of the Barr Foundation’s Climate Program is to advance equitable solutions for clean energy, mobility, and resilient communities. To make progress toward that goal, it’s imperative that we build a multi-racial and inclusive climate movement, which includes investing in BIPOC-led, equity-centered organizations” said Jim Canales, President and Trustee of the Barr Foundation. “We commend Kresge and our other philanthropic colleagues who have embraced the Climate Funders Justice Pledge. Barr’s participation at this time will center on the transparency element of the pledge, as it supports accountability and honest reflection, both of which are necessary to bring values and aspirations into alignment with the grants we make.”

As pledges are fulfilled, DOCN will publicly share data on its campaign website about how much money funders currently give to BIPOC-led climate groups, as well as the projected amount that will be moved to these groups in the next 12 to 24 months. For an updated list of where other top funders stand on the pledge and to learn more about the Climate Funders Justice Pledge, please visit: https://climate.donorsofcolor.org/.


ABOUT DONORS OF COLOR NETWORK: The Donors of Color Network is the first-ever cross-racial community of donors of color and movement leaders committed to building the collective power of people of color to achieve racial equity. The Donors of Color Network officially launched with their Inaugural Convening in March of 2019, building on three years of in-depth research, writing, and interviews. To learn more about Donors of Color Network, please visit: https://www.donorsofcolor.org/.