In 2018, the Kresge Foundation launched the Climate Change, Health, and Equity (CCHE) initiative as a 5-year, $22 million commitment to accelerate action on climate change and climate-related inequities in health. Since its inception, the CCHE network has worked in distinct, yet aligned strategies that focus on health institutions, practitioner and professional societies, and community-based organizations. The priority was to bring together diverse grant-funded partners at different points along their equity journey, with initiative partners providing evaluation, technical assistance, and support to sustain the network.

As an initiative team, cultivating a learning community that included various racial justice practices required us to explore more keenly our own understanding of racial justice.

At Kresge, our approach to racial justice is to challenge structures that perpetuate systems of oppression while partnering with Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) community leaders on solutions that confront the systems of racial exclusion that have defined the economic landscape of America’s cities. For us, racial justice includes acknowledging the history of racism, providing resources to organizations that build the power of BIPOC communities, and uplifting transformative solutions that dismantle systems of oppression to build alternatives. We know that racism drives the disproportionate climate impacts and preventable differences in health outcomes and access that BIPOC communities experience.

  • For example, Indigenous people are 48 percent more likely to live in areas where the highest percentage of land is projected to be inundated due to sea level rise.
  • Black residents are 40 percent more likely to live in areas with the highest projected increases in mortality rates due to climate-driven changes in extreme temperatures.
  • Latinx residents are 43 percent more likely to live in areas with the highest projected labor hour losses in weather-exposed industries due to climate-driven increases in high-temperature days.
  • Extreme climate events lead to health system disruptions, hospital closures, workforce burnout, and reduced availability of medical supplies, especially in BIPOC communities.
  • Essential hospitals that serve the most vulnerable communities operate in areas with disproportionate rates of climate-related mortality and resource constraints that limit their ability to invest in climate mitigation and resilience infrastructure.

Read the full article about racial justice and climate justice by Erica Browne at Grantmakers in Health.