November 2, 2021

New Top 40 Funder Takes The Climate Funders Justice Pledge; Donors of Color Network Releases Never Before Seen Foundation Funding Data to BIPOC-Led Organizations


With the addition of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, eight of the top 40 foundations have now pledged; 32 remain silent nine months after pledge launch 

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 announced that the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, a top 40 climate funder, has taken the Climate Funders Justice Pledge (CFJP) and that new funding data is available from four foundations detailing the percentages given to Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC)-led organizations ahead of the United Nations climate summit, (COP26)

“Foundations have the privilege and responsibility to support those best positioned to develop and advocate for solutions to the climate crisis. In the United States, communities of color are the most proximate to the impacts of climate change, but philanthropy has historically neglected the critical role they play in addressing it,” said Rockefeller Brothers Fund President and CEO Stephen Heintz. “The Climate Funders Justice Pledge is a valuable tool to help foundations do better, together. For the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, it is a challenging but important step on our journey to becoming an antiracist institution and will strengthen our impact with regard to the climate crisis.” 

The pledge sees increased momentum among new pledgers. Top forty funder, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund – a private family foundation working to advance social change that contributes to a more just, sustainable, and peaceful world – signed on, as well as:

  • Kataly Foundation – a new family foundation working toward a world in which Black and Indigenous people, and all communities of color have the resources, power, and agency to execute their own visions for justice, well-being, and shared prosperity. 
  • Laughing Gull Foundation – a progressive family foundation rooted in the South and committed to justice. 
  • Women Donors Network – a network of donors advancing a just, equitable, and sustainable world by leveraging the wealth, power, and community of progressive women donors.

Since the CFJP launched in February 2021, twenty-six foundations – including eight of the top forty climate funders – have committed to at least the transparency portion of the pledge. The four foundations below are the latest to fulfill the transparency portion of the pledge and report their 2019-20 funding allocation to BIPOC-led groups.

Foundation (*top 40 funder) 2019-2020 U.S. climate funding to BIPOC-led groups meeting CFJP definition Percentage of 2019-2020 U.S. climate funding going to BIPOC-led groups meeting CFJP definition
The Schmidt Family Foundation* $10.831 million 30%
The Ceres Trust $3.937 million 35%
The David Rockefeller Fund $431,000 9%
The Surdna Foundation $13.004 million 72%

A recent New School Study, in collaboration with Building Equity and Alignment, found that of the $1.34 billion awarded by 12 national environmental funders, only 1.3% goes to BIPOC-led, justice-focused groups. Today’s public funding data release is the third since the campaign’s launch. Some foundations’ percentages are below the 30 percent CFJP threshold, others above. Their transparency is essential to improving what you can measure and shifting the center of gravity in philanthropy towards racial justice. 

“Without the expertise of leaders and communities of color, who are at the frontlines of the climate crisis and often have the most to lose, we simply can’t advance toward a healthier planet,” said Joseph Sciortino, executive director of The Schmidt Family Foundation. “We took the Climate Funders Justice Pledge to show our support for the incredible work of people of color in this field, and we hope our fellow funders will join us.”

“Despite the urgency of the climate crisis, climate philanthropy habitually under-resources and diminishes BIPOC-led organizations and the outsized impact they have,” said Sharon Chen, board member for the Donors of Color Network. “It's clear we're not deploying the full force of the climate movement – it’s a devastating mistake that our campaign addresses. Foundations taking the Climate Funders Justice Pledge are courageously setting the example – being transparent about their practices, aiming to do better, and compelling peers to step up.” 

The CFJP aims to move the center of climate philanthropy towards racial and economic justice by shifting hundreds of millions of dollars in new resources toward a winning climate movement. Engaging the expertise, talent and power of communities and leaders of color is critical to meeting the urgency of the global climate crisis. Funneling the same millions into the same organizations each year – groups that largely exclude BIPOC leaders and communities – has not worked.

“There is an abundance of BIPOC-led organizations working at the center of powerful racial, economic, and environmental solutions. One of the most strategic things we can do as funders is follow their lead toward healthier, more sustainable, and thriving communities,” said Kellie Terry and Alison Corwin, interim co-directors of the Sustainable Environments Program at the Surdna Foundation.

As climate philanthropy continues to place people and communities of color on the backburner, the CFJP asks pledgers to publicly report how much they direct to BIPOC-led, justice-focused organizations in 2019 and 2020, and to give at least 30 percent of their United States-based climate funding to these groups within two years. DOCN will publicly release data as pledges continue to be fulfilled. For an updated list of where top funders stand and which organizations are still deciding if they will pledge, please visit:


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: