This Organization Equips Frontline Communities Fighting for Environmental & Racial Justice

The Solutions Project: Let's create the future we want.

Communities experiencing the greatest effects of climate change are speaking loud and clear: enough is enough.

These predominantly low-income, BIPOC frontline communities are more often than not the first to experience the worst of climate change — and are rarely supported. 

However, those fighting for solutions find themselves faced with the reality that approximately 95% of the $60 billion in U.S. foundation funding dispersed each year goes to White-led organizations, while 70 to 80% goes to organizations led by men. 

Research organizations, McKinsey & Company and Peterson Institute for International Economics, have studied and reported on the benefits of having more diverse, women-led representation. 

Both findings confirmed that companies and organizations that consciously create space for diverse leaders have greater team performance in decision-making and financial results. 

Enter The Solutions Project, an environmental advocacy group creating opportunities for women of color to gain access to funding while also ensuring that “they have a seat at the table, and the materials to build their own tables — as they are the past, present, and future of our movements.”

The Solutions Project Creates Access to Equitable Resources

The Solutions Project was founded in 2013 by actor Mark Ruffalo, Stanford professor Mark Jacobson, banker Marco Krapels, and anti-natural-gas filmmaker Josh Fox.

Very much aware that the organization was started by four white men, their leadership has evolved to reflect a new, more diverse way forward.

Today, The Solutions Project is led by President & CEO Gloria Walton, a Black woman with 16 years of power-building experience. Since joining the national organization in 2020, she’s gone on to raise the largest donation in the organization’s history, making sure frontline communities solving climate and racial injustice are directly supported.

She also expanded the number of grantees from 30 to 100+ with the average grant size from $30,000 to $100,000.

Gloria Watson sitting on a director's chair
President and CEO of The Solutions Project, Gloria Walton / Photo courtesy of The Solutions Project

The Solutions Project specifically supports Black, Latinx, Indigenous, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI), Women, Intergenerational, and LGBTQ+-led organizations through capacity building, storytelling and media production training, and grantmaking. 

“We give their voices a much larger audience through our celebrity relationships,” the organization states. “We build media partnerships that create space for their solutions to inspire millions more to support what really works.”

As part of their 100% Commitment to Justice, The Solutions Project awards dozens of grassroots organizations and coalitions led by women and people of color. 

Affordable housing, healthcare, and clean-energy job opportunities are some of the many ways these climate changemakers are responding to and supporting frontline communities across the U.S.

PUSH Buffalo, a grantee of The Solutions Project, is just one of the many grassroots solutions-driven organizations benefiting from this kind of support. 

Rahwa Ghirmatzion, PUSH’s executive director, mobilized neighbors and community leaders to transform an abandoned school into solar-powered affordable housing for seniors and a community center. 

This became New York’s first solar project to offer discounted energy entirely to low-income residents. 

“This is energy democracy in action: regular people — working-class and low-income — coming together and figuring out how to generate cleaner, healthier energy in their own neighborhood,” Ghirmatzion said. “The Solutions Project understands the importance of getting the word out that no matter what might be going on in Washington, real-world communities are advancing equitable and sustainable economic development powered by clean energy.”

A Seat At the Table 

The Solutions Project acknowledges that the people closest to the problems are the ones with the solutions. 

Women, Black people, Indigenous, and disabled communities — and everyone else in between — are the key to creating the kind of future for everyone. 

You can support The Solutions Project and all the other amazing grantees by visiting its website.

Header image courtesy of The Solutions Project

Article Details

February 11, 2022 12:35 PM
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