Donors of Color Network pledge will shift millions to minority-led environmental justice groups


Alliance magazine


The cross-racial community of donors and movement leaders, Donors of Color Network, have announced the launch of their campaign to move hundreds of millions of dollars to climate justice groups led by Black, Indigenous, and people of colour and create millions of new jobs.

The Climate Funders Justice Pledge, which was developed in coordination with movement leaders from across the country, calls for at least 30 per cent of funders’ U.S. climate dollars to go to BIPOC-led justice-focused groups, and for greater transparency in reporting from donors.

The Kresge Foundation, one of the top 20 largest private foundations in the U.S., have already taken the pledge, along with six other top 40 funders – and movement leaders and allies will be joining forces to encourage top funders to join the funders in taking the pledge. The campaign kicked off with a video narrated by activist, Rosario Dawson.

Action after last summer’s reckoning with racial injustice

During a tumultuous year of racial reckoning, countless of the country’s top philanthropies issued statements of support and solidarity with those marching for justice. But for many, their funding decisions have yet to reflect their stated values. A recent study found that of the roughly $1 billion in annual environmental and climate grantmaking made by twelve top funders, only 1.3 percent goes to BIPOC-led environmental justice organizations. 

‘Frontline communities of colour are punching above their weight with their wins in the fight to save our planet, despite being hit first and hardest by climate disasters,’ said Ashindi Maxton, Executive Director of the Donors of Color Network (DOCN). ‘But, the largest funders have systematically underfunded organizations led by communities of colour. It is morally wrong and it is ineffective as strategy. The Climate Funders Justice Pledge will help shift the center of gravity in philanthropy to a climate movement that operates at full power.’

Funders who take the pledge will upload their 2019 and 2020 grants to Candid’s eReporter program and disclose to DOCN the percentage of their U.S. climate giving that is currently directed to such groups. The goal is to strengthen the environmental movement by investing in climate justice as a focal point for solving today’s most pressing economic and climate issues.

‘The approach the donor community has been taking to tackle our climate crisis is not sufficient. The scale of natural disasters our country has experienced this year alone continues to disproportionately devastate communities of colour, and we can’t continue business as usual,’ said Rip Rapson, Kresge President and CEO.

Frontline communities of colour are punching above their weight with their wins in the fight to save our planet, despite being hit first and hardest by climate disasters.

Kresge’s commitment comes after a $30 million grant announcement to support nearly 60 racial justice and community-led efforts across the U.S. Support for climate mitigation efforts is highest among people of colour, who have secured major successes with fewer resources compared to their white counterparts. BIPOC-led groups have shut down oil pipelines from Standing Rock to the Atlantic Coast, stopped new gas plants, secured billions of dollars for vulnerable communities in state climate bills, and boosted clean energy and green jobs at the ballot box.

‘BIPOC activists are mobilising to make “good trouble” for those who pollute and exploit our communities,’ said Jacqueline Patterson, Senior Director of the NAACP’s Environmental and Climate Justice Program and a supporter of the Climate Funders Justice Pledge. ‘People of colour have accomplished so much with scant resources; there is no limit to what we can do once we get a fair share of climate funding. That is the vision behind this campaign.’

Over the course of the next two to three months, as pledges are made and fulfilled, DOCN will share data publicly on their campaign website on 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 give at least 30 percent of their U.S. climate dollars to them in the next 12 to 24 months.

The Donors of Color Network will continue sustained outreach to top philanthropies to invite their participation for this critical campaign. Additionally, DOCN will roll out profiles of several BIPOC-led movement networks that have achieved major successes in recent years, to highlight the kind of work that will grow as more funders take the Pledge.

To learn more about the Climate Funders Justice Pledge, visit

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