For years, we’ve heard the calls for more diversity in the environmental movement. It’s certainly true that the “big green” groups — and their boards — remain mostly white. But the fact is, there is plenty of diversity among those who are fighting for a cleaner, healthier environment.

Across the U.S., environmental justice groups are shutting down coal-fired power plants, getting the lead out of drinking water, advancing access to sustainable and healthy housing, and engaging in other actions to address a plethora of environmental injustices. This includes efforts to mitigate climate change while preparing for its impacts. Rooted in Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) communities, environmental justice groups have a track record of wins, a deep bench of talent, and earned trust that enables them to mobilize the communities where they live and work.

What too many BIPOC and environmental justice groups lack is money.

Only about 1% of environmental grantmaking from 12 of the largest environmental funders went to environmental justice groups, according to a 2020 report by the Building Equity and Alignment Initiative. Research by the Solutions Project found that half of philanthropic funding on climate issues goes to 20 national organizations, 90% of which are led by white people, 80% by men.

Funders need to step up their investments in BIPOC-led environmental justice groups — not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because it’s the way to win on climate change and other environmental issues. Here’s why.

First, those closest to the problem are the ones who can identify solutions. People of color live in communities that are disproportionately affected by environmental problems — from air and water pollution to climate change.

Second, BIPOC-led organizations have a demonstrated track record of success. With sophisticated strategies and tireless organizing, BIPOC-led groups have produced transformational action on climate and environmental racism.

Third, BIPOC-led environmental justice groups take an approach that differs from the dominant green-group paradigm.

Read the full article about environmental justice funders by Lois DeBacker and Jacqueline Patterson at Medium.