Environmental & Climate Justice

The Outcomes We Seek

  • Adoption of Just Transition

    A Just Transition recognizes that a healthy economy and a clean environment can co-exist.  We support a vision-led, unifying and place-based set of principles, processes and practices that builds economic and political power and works to shift from an extractive economy (one that relies on the extraction of labor, natural resources, culture) to a regenerative economy.

  • Increased Power in Communities Most Impacted

    We are committed to recognizing, listening to and moving resources in support of existing grassroots and frontline leaders in the environmental and climate justice movements as they continue to build their political, economic and cultural power.

  • Improved Policies Rooted in Environmental & Climate Justice Solutions

    We support policy changes that work towards reducing racial disparities of environmental and climate impacts.  These solutions will reduce carbon emissions and address environmental problems that ensure the right of all people to live, learn, work and play in safe, healthy and clean environments.

  • Increased Environmental Funding

    Leading by example, we aim to increase environmental funding from public and private sources to frontline and grassroots organizations and movements with a racial equity lens.

People of color and low-wealth people, particularly those living in frontline communities, are faced with disproportionate, negative impacts of environmental degradation, climate change and failing infrastructure, and have been plagued by decades of disinvestment and racist planning practices. Historic power imbalances from centuries of structural racism have resulted in the people most affected by environmental impacts being the least heard and valued.

The environmental and climate justice movements address this disparity by centering impacted communities in the design and implementation of climate solutions. These interrelated movements encourage self-determination of all people and are opposed to the role of trans/multi-national corporations in environmentally decimating communities.

Through deep collaboration with our grantee partners and philanthropic colleagues, we intentionally support people and organizations that build power within communities of color and low-wealth communities to address the systemic environmental injustices caused by historic power imbalance.  These movements are highly informed and have their own analysis about advancing environmental and climate justice solutions and the Sustainable Environments program elevates this work as it is organized in the field by naming both movements.

We use a variety of tools beyond grantmaking such as convenings, program related investments, and communications to play a role in shifting investments to frontline and grassroots organizations, particularly those led by people of color.

VIDEO: Helen Chin, Program Director for Sustainable Environments discusses why and how the foundation supports Black, Indigenous and People of Color communities to advance equity.

Selection Criteria

Represent and Reflect Communities

We prioritize support for organizations led by individuals who represent and reflect the communities they serve.

Deeply Rooted Relationships

We support organizations whose leaders have developed deeply rooted relationships in the communities they serve.

Campaigns and Policy Design

We support organizations that are able to elevate and advance equity through campaign and policy design.

Build Power and Leadership

We support campaigns designed to build power and leadership among grassroots and frontline organizations.

Build Capacity

We support groups that help our grantee partners develop the skills, knowledge and institutional and network capacity to advance their agendas.

Environmental & Climate Justice

You can explore recent Environmental & Climate Justice grants below.
And view other Sustainable Environments grants in our database.

Related News & Insights

Sustainable Environments
August 19, 2021
Are Foundation Trustees Perpetuating Climate Injustice? Here’s How We Can Change That.

By Kelly Nowlin and Ernest Tollerson | First published in Inside Philanthropy The recent IPCC report couldn’t be clearer: The world needs wide-scale, transformative action, swift action, to ensure we don’t blow past the critical 1.5 degrees…

February 5, 2021
Surdna Joins the Climate Funders Justice Pledge

“Surdna was proud to support Building Equity and Alignment for Impact’s (BEA) report, which found that 12 national environmental funders gave just 1.3% of their annual giving to environmental justice groups. There is an abundance of BIPOC-led…

Staff Perspectives
September 21, 2020
Watch: Helen Chin on the Intersection of Environmental, Economic, and Racial Justice

"To address climate and environmental inequities, we need to think holistically about the role of race and what justice means. We need to look at all aspects of our life. And acknowledge that the root of many injustices is the commoditization of…

Sustainable Environments
August 11, 2020
Equitable Evaluation: Learning with the Frontlines of Racial Justice

How can we in philanthropy do a better job of supporting the kind of collaboration and shared learning that grassroots organizations need to grow their movements? In 2019, the Surdna Foundation Sustainable Environments team set out to better…

Sustainable Environments
August 11, 2020
CFF 2020 Food Movement Support Fund

The CFF 2020 Food Movement Support Fund is a one-time grant program administered by Community Food Funders (CFF) and North Star Fund. Surdna is a member of the Community Food Funders, a network of foundations in the NY-NJ-CT area that support…

March 25, 2019
Sustainable Environments' Learning Summaries

With the closeout of the Sustainable Environments Program's Transportation, Regional Food Supply, and Urban Stormwater Management lines of work, Surdna produced a series of learning summaries that capture the lessons learned from funding in those…

December 5, 2018
How NFG is Disrupting Funder-Grantee Dynamics

Helen Chin has just led the Surdna Foundation’s Sustainable Environments Program through a strategy refinement process. “Now,” she says, with satisfaction, “We are able to connect more robustly with what’s bubbling from the ground…

Staff Perspectives
October 11, 2018
Philanthropic Leadership Means Following the Frontlines

When we talk about “building the capacity” of frontline and grassroots leaders who are changing structures, policies, and systems, what does that really mean for funders? Many funders use antiquated and static systems of inquiry to identify and…

You can explore recent Environmental & Climate Justice grants below.
And view other Sustainable Environments grants in our database.