Philanthropy News Digest: BIPOC environmental justice leaders call for more resources, agency
Philanthropy News Digest – May 24, 2023
By Lauren Brathwaite & Matt Sinclair
Long before environmental justice became a topic for academic research, however, grassroots organizations were motivated to address what they saw on the ground in communities. In 1988, the West Harlem Environmental Action or WE ACT organization was founded. It was New York’s first environmental justice organization created to improve environmental and health quality in communities of color. In 1990, the Indigenous Environmental Network was formed by grassroots Indigenous individuals to address environmental and economic justice issues by working to build economically sustainable communities. The Southwest Network for Environmental and Economic Justice, founded in 1990, is a regional organization of African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, and Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders that works to strengthen local organizations and empower communities and workers to impact local, state, regional, national, and international policy on environmental and economic justice issues. The movement has only grown since then.
“In terms of impact, BIPOC-led power-building groups are the driving force behind some of the most expansive climate policies and wins in the country,” said Abdul Dosunmu, campaign manager of Donors of Color Network’s (DOCN) Climate Funders Justice Pledge (CFJP). “Think of the New Jersey and California environmental justice laws that preceded [president] Biden’s Justice40 initiative or the work led by movement organizations to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline. Imagine the possibilities if we funded that work at scale.”