The Philanthropy and Environmental Justice Research Project

Research Associates


The Philanthropy and Environmental Justice Research Project recognizes that the growth of community-based organizations, strategic regional networks, and constituency-based national networks committed to the principles of economic and environmental justice are essential to the efforts of people of color and lower-income communities to organize and mobilize the resources needed to eradicate these environmental and public health threats. We also believe that the environmental justice movement is essential to constructing a more inclusive, democratic, and pro-active environmental politics in the United States. Unlike many traditional environmental organizations, however, the environmental justice movement remains sorely under-supported by the philanthropic community at-large.

The aim of this project is to help forge more effective partnerships between and within the environmental justice movement and the philanthropic community. Our research serves as an important educational tool for current and potential funders by: (1) providing information regarding the importance and accomplishments of the environmental justice movement over the last ten years, including those of the strategic networks; (2) demonstrating the gross underfunding the movement by the philanthropic community in general, and the Environmental Grantmakers Association membership in particular, in relation to other segments of the environmental movement; (3) providing recommendations as to which grantmaking practices would be most appropriate given the structure and needs of the movement, (4) discussing the importance of diversity and inclusive practices in foundation settings for improving environmental grantmaking practices and for overcoming the funding barriers currently confronting the environmental justice movement; and (5) evaluating the manner in which grantmakers can better utilize their institutional clout to support the work of the environmental justice movement beyond the disbursement of grants by undertaking mission-related investing strategies and mission-related shareholder actions against socially and ecologically irresponsible companies. We envision this project as being a valuable resource for foundation staff, officers, and board members, as well as individual donors and participants in the environmental justice movement.

Our report, Green of Another Color, represents the findings of a year-and-a-half long investigation and assessment of the state of relations between the foundation community and the environmental justice movement, and was produced in close consultation with key representatives of the movement and foundation community. With financial support provided by a $43,000 grant from the Nonprofit Sector Research Fund of the Aspen Institute in Washington, DC, and additional support from the Jasper Whiting Foundation and the Research Scholarship and Development Fund (RSDF) at Northeastern University, over 1000 copies of this report were distributed among members of the Environmental Grantmakers Association and other foundation networks, as well as key organizations within the environmental justice movement.

Associates Daniel Faber and Deborah McCarthy also co-edited Foundations for Social Change: Critical Perspectives on Philanthropy and Popular Movements (Rowman & Littlefied, 2005). A multidisciplinary collection of essays brings together the leading voices on philanthropy and social movements into a single collection, and addresses the fundamental issues of financial and political power.


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