A study released last year from The New School showed that, between 2016 and 2017, environmental justice groups received just 1.3% of the funding earmarked for climate organizations in the Gulf and Midwest regions.
“Engaging those communities in decision-making (and) in the solutions for climate is essential,” said Miya Yoshitani, the executive director of the Oakland-based Asian Pacific Environmental Network and a member of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council. It’s important, she said, for communities “to see themselves as part of the solution to this incredible and enormous problem.”
The Hewlett Foundation is one of three top donors that only agreed to the transparency portion of the pledge. Larry Kramer, the president of Hewlett, says the organization declined to pledge 30% of its climate funding towards minority-led groups as a matter of “both legal and policy judgment.”
“We don’t think there are magic numbers,” Kramer said. “We prefer to do our grantmaking, be transparent about it and always be working to improve.”
Kramer says the foundation is doing other things to improve diversity among its climate grantee pool, including employing efforts to make its own staff — and the staff of the organizations it supports — more diverse.
Five of the the top 40 donors have declined the pledge, with some citing that their climate funding is mostly done outside of the U.S., according to the Donors of Colors Network. Ashindi Maxton, the executive director of the organization, says the group is in conversation with more than two dozen of the other top donors about the pledge, though some say they don't sign pledges.
“No one has said that they don’t sort of agree with the ultimate end goals of what we’re doing,” she said. “A lot of people just have a lot of internal machinery to move to do this.”
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