Environment, Energy & Health in the 21st Century

The Climate Action Fund supports organizations committed to on-the-ground organizing, democratic participation, leadership development, alliance building, a broad vision of social change, and inclusive movement building.

In our view, a Washington-based or purely scientific approach to solving the climate crisis is inadequate, and any effective approach must involve a broad sector of society. Very often, relatively small increases in funding enable existing organizations to continue building their grassroots base and expand their alliances, while also going on the offensive with corporate and political campaigns that promote permanent solutions, sustainable economies, and democratic accountability.

As an early environmental justice funder, New World Foundation witnessed the direct impact of society’s dependence on fossil fuels. From ranchers in Montana or farmers along the Mississippi or miners in Appalachia to residents of the major urban metros like Los Angeles and Boston, to immigrant laborers on farms across the nation, the negative impact of our fossil fuel economy on land, water, and air is ubiquitous. Factor in recent hurricanes, wildfires, droughts, and floods and it is evident that our current growth model is both unsustainable and impacts everyone.

As more local communities make the connection between their living environment, the economy, jobs and climate, NWF’s place-based grantmaking is critical to building community resilience in the face of climate disruption.

Program Evolution

NWF has long supported the movement for environmental justice, choosing to focus on communities calling for toxic cleanups; urban health activists concerned about soaring asthma rates; unions demanding better workplace health and safety; Native Americans fighting for sovereignty and land rights; farm workers exposing the dangers of pesticides; Appalachians trying to stop mountaintop removal coal-mining; and rural communities working to halt the harm from natural gas fracking.

NWF was an early supporter of the environmental justice movement in the 1990s and we funded the anti-toxics movement and key environmental justice anchors and networks. As the environmental justice movement evolved, so did NWF’s grantmaking, and we subsequently expanded our environmental justice work to include land use, transportation, and climate. NWF made grants to frontline organizations in Mexico, Brazil, South Africa, Nigeria, India, Thailand, Malaysia, and the Philippines working on these issues. While we do not have an active international docket now, we are open to exploring the international links and connections to our domestic grantmaking and we always analyze our work in the global context.

NWF’s role within philanthropy to promote the early environmental justice movement included:

  • Funding both of the Environmental Justice Summits
  • Organizing toxic tours for funders
  • Planning funder briefings
  • Working closely with environmental health funders to incorporate environmental justice into their grantmaking
  • Designing multi-session education seminars for young donors

In recent years we have launched collaborative pooled and donor-advised funds to spearhead work on fracking and on sustainable agriculture and food systems. Some of the programs we’ve funded include: