As a grantee of the Barr Foundation, The Funders Network participated in an organizational racial equity self-assessment commissioned by Barr to help nonprofits working in the climate space reflect on their racial equity efforts and benchmark their progress. In this post, originally shared on the Barr Foundation’s site, Climate Director Mariella Puerto shares the story and learnings behind Barr’s ongoing work to advance a more diverse, inclusive, and equity-centered climate movement.

BY Mariella Puerto, Barr Foundation

Almost two years ago, I wrote here about new work on Barr’s Climate Team to significantly increase grantmaking to people of color (POC)-led, equity-centered organizations. This is an extension of Barr’s commitment to center racial equity as a core value through our grantmaking and practices. It also stems from our firm belief that addressing climate change will only be possible with a diverse, inclusive, and equity-centered movement. In December 2021, I reported our baseline – roughly 10% ($5.2 million) of our 2019 and 2020 climate grantmaking went to POC-led, equity-centered organizations. I also stated our commitments to keep improving and to be transparent about progress.

That’s why I am thrilled to share that we have more than doubled that baseline. In 2021 and 2022, our grantmaking to POC-led, equity-centered climate organizations totaled $15.8 million, which was 22.8% of our climate grantmaking those two years. And we are projecting an even higher percentage for 2023. In this post, I want to share the story behind those numbers – five ways of working and new partnerships to advance a more diverse, inclusive, equitable, and effective climate field.

1. Investing in Existing Partners and Connecting to New Ones

Being explicit about our goal to support more POC-led, equity-centered organizations led us to deepen support to many existing partners – with larger, more flexible, and longer-term grants, and supplemental funding to build resiliency. Our commitments also guided our approach, outreach, and network building to find and support new partners.

We recognized that there are existing community-based leaders working on a range of multiple issues to address systemic injustices. Because of the trust they already hold in their communities, such leaders can be enormously effective in connecting climate to what matters most in their context, ensuring that climate action reflects local priorities, and that locals reap the benefits from the opportunities climate action creates. We revamped our Climate Program online inquiry form to add accessibility as well as clarity about our keen interest in supporting POC-led, equity-centered organizations working in clean energy, mobility, and resilience. We asked our current partners to circulate the form in their networks.

As a result of increased outreach, we’ve been excited to add several new organizations to our portfolio that were already trusted partners in their communities – such as The Alliance for Tribal Clean Energy, which is working with Native American tribes in New England to transition toward clean energy systems, and Arise for Social Justice, which is organizing low income people to fight oppression in all its manifestations, including environmental injustice in Springfield, MA (you can see all of our Climate grants since 2021 here).

Read the full post on the Barr Foundation’s website here.