April 29, 2021

Open Society Foundations Commits to the Climate Funders Justice Pledge; Will Direct At Least 30% of US Climate Funding to BIPOC-Led Groups


With the addition of Open Society Foundations and the David Rockefeller Fund, sixteen philanthropies, including five of the top forty climate funders, have taken the Climate Funders Justice Pledge to shift millions in new resources to Black, Indigenous, and people of color-led justice-focused groups

New York, NY -- Donors of Color Network  -- 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 -- announced today that Open Society Foundations, the world’s largest private funder of independent groups working for justice, democratic governance, and human rights, has joined their groundbreaking Climate Funders Justice Pledge (CFJP). The pledge asks funders to commit to greater transparency by reporting their climate funding data publicly and direct 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 in a bid that aims to move hundreds of millions of dollars toward a winning climate movement. 

“Our mission is to shift the center of gravity in climate philanthropy towards racial and economic justice. In just over two months, we have secured commitments that will help move millions in new resources to BIPOC-led organizations and communities of color on the frontlines of our climate crisis,” said Ashindi Maxton, executive director of the Donors of Color Network (DOCN). “We’re thankful to Open Society Foundations for committing to fund the power of BIPOC-led climate justice work through our pledge, but we won’t stop there. I hope additional foundations recognize the path to a winning climate movement lies in resourcing the most innovative and impacted communities.” 

BIPOC powerbuilding groups have long been under-resourced by the philanthropic sector; a problem that becomes egregiously apparent when evaluating climate philanthropy. A recent 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.  

“Investing less than 1.5 percent of philanthropic dollars into BIPOC-led groups for climate work is as morally wrong as it is just plain stupid,” said Thomas Perriello, executive director of Open Society-U.S. “From power-building in the Deep South to community-owned solar cooperatives in Puerto Rico -- every American community has smart, well organized BIPOC leaders on the cutting edge of innovations and organizing that will drive America’s just transition to a clean, resilient economy. But for too long, they have been making extraordinary strides on shoestring budgets. That’s why Open Society is proud to join the Donor’s of Color Network’s new Climate Funders Justice pledge towards BIPOC-led organizations who put racial justice at the center of climate solutions.”

Since the campaign’s launch, sixteen climate funders, including five in the top forty, have taken the pledge. The campaign has secured support from over many high-profile movement leaders including climate justice networks, PhD’s, business leaders, and Congressmembers. A number of those campaign supporters were chosen to contribute their expertise to the Biden Administration’s climate agenda as members of the newly formed Environmental Justice Advisory Council, including Dr. Robert Bullard, dubbed the father of environmental justice, and Miya Yoshitani, an advisor to the Donors of Color Network and CFJP.

“Without people of color and frontline organizers at the table, there are major blindspots and weaknesses in our climate movement,” said Jacqueline Patterson, senior director of the NAACP’s climate justice program. “But I am encouraged by the major shifts in funding taking place due to the Climate Funders Justice Pledge, as well as by the long-overdue focus on BIPOC-led climate justice in our country’s policy agenda.”  

“Climate change is our single biggest shared challenge that will define our future. To win on climate, environmental justice needs to be front and center,” said Congressman Donald McEachin. “I’m grateful that the Climate Funders Justice Pledge is meeting that urgency with real action by catalyzing climate funders to move millions to BIPOC-led climate and justice-focused groups. Congress and the non profit sector funders need to continue to work in tandem in order to move our climate goals forward.” 

As pledges continue to be made and fulfilled, DOCN will publicly share data on its campaign website to detail how much money funders currently give to BIPOC-led powerbuilding groups doing climate work, as well as the projected amount that will be moved to these groups when funders pledge to provide at least 30 percent of their U.S. climate dollars to them 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: http://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/