A 1983 US government study documenting the placement of hazardous waste landfills in low-income and Black communities was one of the first studies to highlight the intersection of environmental issues and racial inequity. In the nearly 40 years since, tackling climate change has become an increasingly important aspect of the environmental justice movement. In this period, surface temperatures across the United States have increased by a relative average of 1.2 degrees Fahrenheit (0.65 degrees Celsius) and between 6 to 7 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases have entered the atmosphere each year.

While these increases present a powerful threat to all life, they have a disproportionate impact on indigenous communities and communities of color. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, Black and African American people in the United States are currently 40 percent more likely to live in areas that are predicted to have the highest climate change-related increases in mortality rate. This is predicted to rise to 59 percent should we reach 7.5 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius) of global warming.

While traditional accelerators focus on early-stage entrepreneurs, Unreasonable Impact concentrates on business owners who have working solutions. These companies already have financing, staff, and revenue, and most have been running for four years or more. Entrepreneurs are invited to join the program based on their companies’ ability to scale, solve social and environmental problems, and spur job growth. To date, it has worked with more than 250 entrepreneurs, who have raised more than $9 billion in financing. At least 50 percent of the companies included in the last two US programs were owned, founded, or led by Black, Latin, Asian, or Indigenous leaders.

Here is a look at how three of these entrepreneurs are driving climate justice change in their communities and how the program is contributing to their growth.

  1. Easing the Energy Transition
  2. Cutting Food Waste Emissions
  3. Making Solar More Accessible

Read the full article about diverse climate entrepreneurs by Daniel Epstein and Travis Barnes at Stanford Social Innovation Review.