OAKLAND, Calif., April 28, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- The newly launched Justice40 Accelerator will support communities on the front lines of the climate crisis in accessing federal funding flowing from President Joe Biden's historic executive order directing 40% of the benefits from government-funded climate action to disadvantaged communities. Participating organizations can share existing expertise, and qualify for capacity-building grants averaging $25,000 each. After a dialogue with potential applicants and in response to needs in the field, the accelerator will also offer project development workshops, partnership opportunities, technical expertise, and informational briefings and resources to support dozens of community-based organizations as they apply for federal funds.
"The Biden/Harris administration's Justice40 Initiative is an incredible opportunity to finally center communities that have suffered most from dirty energy and the effects of climate change – the same communities that can lead us through a just transition to a clean-energy economy," said Gloria Walton, CEO of the climate justice grantmaking organization The Solutions Project, which funds and amplifies community-based climate solutions.
"But this historic plan will work only if climate funding flows directly to those front-line communities, instead of solely to the same old organizations and businesses that already have plenty of resources and inside-the-Beltway connections," said Walton. She joined The Solutions Project's co-founder, the actor Mark Ruffalo, to announce the Justice40 Accelerator on CBS This Morning.
Community-based organizations are creating innovative climate solutions across the United States, but often lack access to the resources they need to realize them fully. Most front-line climate organizations are rooted in and accountable to communities of color, which bear disproportionate burdens from climate change and dirty energy. They are historically underinvested in across both philanthropy and government funding — and the convoluted federal funding ecosystem is difficult for even the most well-resourced organizations to access.
The Justice40 Accelerator aims to provide philanthropic and technical support to access federal grants and contracts, and will also serve as a navigator for front-line organizations to access the funding they deserve.
Climate justice and other community groups are working on the front lines of rising sea levels in Miami and warming temperatures in Iowa, and on the fence lines of oil sands pipelines in Minnesota and oil drilling in Los Angeles. They are bringing clean energy and safe drinking water to predominantly Black communities in the South, creating wind-energy jobs in multi-racial communities in the urban Northeast, and building efficient, affordable, solar-powered housing in Indigenous communities on the Great Plains.
"Washington ideas can feel impossibly far away and inaccessible when you're working on the front lines of climate solutions," commented Lenwood Coleman, Chief Program Officer of community clean power and resilience nonprofit Groundswell. A U.S. Air Force veteran and longtime community development leader, Coleman knows the perseverance and commitment to service that it takes to make community-focused programs work for the people. "The District of Columbia is Groundswell's hometown, our team has seen it from all sides, and we're here to stand in the gap."
The Justice40 Accelerator is a partnership project of the nonprofit organizations Groundswell, Elevate, the Partnership for Southern Equity, and The Solutions Project, with support from The Hummingbird Firm, drawing on decades of experience and a commitment to serving the needs of front-line organizations as these groups seek to access federal funding at this important time. The accelerator is independent of the federal government and of the Justice40 Initiative.
"For ongoing guidance and support throughout the process of competing for federal funding, community organizations can team up with peer nonprofits involved in similar work so lessons can be shared in real time," said Nathaniel Smith, founder and chief equity officer of the Partnership for Southern Equity, which works for racial equity and shared prosperity in Atlanta and across the American South. "The Justice40 Accelerator aims to level the playing field – or at least tilt it in the right direction – so that front-line climate communities can access federal funding and take their place at the heart of a just transition to a clean energy economy. We hope dozens of organizations will join this initiative by participating in the accelerator and showcasing their incredible innovations for the various federal agencies looking to scale community climate solutions that work for everyone."
The Biden/Harris administration's Justice40 Initiative isn't a new grant program with a clear application process. Rather, it is a target woven into existing programs across government, such as the American Jobs Plan, which includes energy, water, housing, and transportation and mass transit.
Many environmental justice and other community groups felt caught flat-footed in the face of the nation's last massive recovery program, 2009's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), which prioritized shovel-ready projects.
"We are in a much stronger position as a movement now and have important lessons to put into practice," said Gloria Walton, who was working for a community-based organization when ARRA was passed. "In 2009, organizations, businesses, and state government agencies that routinely got federal funding already knew how to ramp up quickly, and they got most of the money. That left innovative and potentially transformative frontline climate projects out in the cold – and that can't happen this time around," said Walton.
The Justice40 Accelerator is inviting front-line climate organizations and other community groups in environmental justice communities, most especially organizations led by Black, Indigenous, and other people of color to get the process started by signing up to learn more about the accelerator and attending informational webinars. Registration is at www.Justice40Accelerator.org, and additional information is available at www.thesolutionsproject.org.
Elevate seeks to create a just and equitable world in which everyone has clean and affordable heat, power, and water in their homes and communities — no matter who they are or where they live. Our programs, policy agenda, and partners reflect this commitment.
Groundswell builds community power to create equitable clean energy futures. A 501c3 nonprofit, Groundswell develops community solar projects and resilience hubs, helps neighbors to share power, reduces energy burdens with efficiency, and connects clean energy supply chains to local economic development - all informed by data science and pioneering research.
Partnership for Southern Equity advances policies and institutional actions that promote racial equity and shared prosperity for all in the growth of metropolitan Atlanta and the American South.
The Hummingbird Firm is a community engagement consulting firm, specializing in face-to-face and digital engagement for public involvement, public participation, environmental communications, climate action, and cultural competency training. We specialize in outreach to underrepresented, underserved, and underrepresented communities.
The Solutions Project is a national nonprofit organization that promotes climate justice through grantmaking and amplifying the stories of front-line community leaders in the media. The organization seeks to accelerate the transition to 100% clean energy and equitable access to healthy air, water, and soils by supporting climate justice organizations, especially those led by women of color.
Media contact: Carina Daniels
SOURCE The Solutions Project