When winter storm Uri hit Houston last February, widespread power outages resulted in residents going days without heat and electricity. Almost half of Texans lost access to clean drinking water.

In the neighborhood of Pleasantville, that meant families needed bottled water – and lots of it.

“Because we are in an older community, a lot of people, including myself, experienced pipe damage,” said Bridgette Murray, a community advocate. “Some folks had to turn off water in their homes.”

Murray’s organization, Achieving Community Tasks Successfully (ACTS), purchased a truckload of water to distribute in her neighborhood and surrounding communities in the days after the storm.

Pleasantville, where Murray lives, has a long and proud history of community organizing. In the 1950s it was one of the few places where Black Americans were allowed to purchase homes in the city. Like many other communities of color, it also became the place where policymakers allowed the permitting of a disproportionate amount of industrial uses, including chemical storage facilities.

In an effort to understand how those acts of environmental racism impact the health of residents, ACTS facilitated a community-led air monitoring program over the last three years to measure the amount of dangerous pollutants in the neighborhood.

The work that Murray does is directly related to climate justice — a critical component of addressing the disproportionate impacts climate change has on communities of color. But it can be hard for organizations like hers to secure grant funding through traditional foundations. In recent years, some organizations are making pledges to fund this on-the-ground climate work, specifically centering groups led by women of color.

In a report released in 2021 by Green 2.0, a nonprofit that tracks diversity in the environmental movement, foundations that responded to the report funded White-led environmental organizations at nearly double the rate of those led by people of color. And, in an analysis completed by The New School, of the $1.34 billion dollars distributed by national environmental grant makers between 2016-2017, only 1.3 percent was awarded to environmental justice organizations. The disparity is also gendered: Between 70 to 80 percent of philanthropic funding goes to organizations run by men.

Read the full article about women of color leading climate justice work by Jessica Kutz at Next City.