Giving Compass' Take:
- Adrienne Day shares the story of Sarah Kearney and her path to launching Prime Coalition, a public charity that funds climate change innovators creating cleantech.
- How are you leveraging charitable dollars to fight climate change? How can social innovation play a role in building solutions that address global warming?
- Read more about venture philanthropists that tackling climate change.
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Sarah Kearney found her mission right out of high school. That summer, a wealthy family asked her to help launch a philanthropy focused on fighting climate change. She’d so impressed Arunas Chesonis, who made his fortune in telecommunications, during her internship at his company that he promised her the job once she graduated from the University of Virginia. Kearney was excited, but overwhelmed. “I do not know what you mean when you say ‘going public’ and I do not know what you mean when you say ‘private foundation,’” she remembers telling him. “But I’ll try to figure those things out while I’m in college!”
Seventeen years later, Kearney has not only mastered the skills needed to run a charitable organization and a venture capital fund worth around $50 million, she’s pioneered a new way of financing clean technology startups and emerging technologies. She leads Prime Coalition, a public charity that has secured $89 million from philanthropic organizations. It has poured that money into 18 energy ventures that have since raised more than $36 million from traditional investors. Last year, Prime Coalition launched the Prime Impact Fund to bankroll “tough” climate tech — the sort of capital-intensive work that often struggles to find support because it won’t soon see a profit.
“What’s important here is that the climate crisis is such a large-scale problem that we need lots of different types of solutions,” Kearney says, “and so we need to match up right-fit capital to each kind of solution.”
Read the full article about clean tech innovation by Adrienne Day at Grist .