The U.S. has a long way to go before we achieve equality and justice for all. Now some 50 years after Selma, we are still searching for environmental and racial justice. The important 2014 report, "The State of Diversity in Environmental Organizations," from Green 2.0 (prepare by University of Michigan environmental justice scholar Dorceta Taylor) once again focused the national spotlight back on the whiteness of U.S. Green Groups. This lack of diversity in mainstream environmental organizations has received much media attention in recent months--with emphasis on getting more people of color inside mostly white nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). Diversifying white NGOs is only part of the solution. Diversifying funding to people of color and indigenous environmental organizations and institutions must be given equal weight in addressing current and future environmental challenges going forward as we transition to a majority people of color nation in the next thirty years. Children of color already make up over half of the under-5 age group in the country.
The 2012 Cultivating the Grassroots report from the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy concluded that the current environmental funding strategy is not winning and that this outcome would not likely change significantly until philanthropy begins targeting funding at communities most impacted by environmental harms. The NCRP offered a four-point roadmap for "funding the grassroots to win:" (1) Fund work that benefits communities of the future ; (2) invest 25 percent of grant dollars in grassroots action; (3) build supportive infrastructure; and (4) take the long view, prepare for tipping points.
It is no surprise to learn environmental justice organizations and grassroots leaders from around the country fully support and endorse the NCRP recommendations. Earlier this month, a group of environmental leaders prepared a letter to Green 2.0, "Statement by Environmental Justice Leaders on Green 2.0: Diversifying Mainstream Environmental Organizations, Diversifying Funding for Environmental Justice Organizations, and Complying with Civil Rights Laws" (March 4, 2015). And finally, providing unrestricted long-term support to grass-roots organizing groups pushing for racial justice is perhaps the most important thing grant makers can do, according to Aaron Dorfman, executive director of NCRP. To view the full text of the EJ leaders' statement click Here.