In the wake of major climate disasters in Puerto Rico and Alaska, the Environmental Justice Resourcing Collective (EJRC) at the Kataly Foundation awarded $257,000 in rapid response funding to nine groups in both areas. The grassroots leaders of the EJRC were entrusted by the Foundation to distribute resources based on their deep knowledge and expertise of conditions on the ground.

The EJRC is composed of nine women of color leaders in the climate and environmental justice movement, who are compensated for their ongoing work as grantmaking advisors. In close collaboration with Enei Begaye, based in Alaska, and Tania Rosario-Mendez, based in Puerto Rico, the group collectively decided how to direct resources both from the EJRC grantmaking budget and other Kataly programs to support critical disaster relief for these affected communities.

One of the challenges with rapid response grantmaking is that in order for foundations to effectively redistribute resources where they are most needed, they need to quickly and deeply understand the conditions communities are facing. That knowledge lies with grassroots leaders. The relationship between Kataly and the EJRC leaders is based in trust, rather than being extractive or transactional, which means they can identify when funds are needed, how much should be moved, and they have the agency to decide where funds should be deployed.

“Grantmaking led by people who are doing work on the ground and who work in service of social movements allows for resource redistribution that prioritizes long-term, systemic change,” said Nwamaka Agbo, CEO of the Kataly Foundation and Managing Director of the Restorative Economies Fund. “Even when carrying out rapid response funding, grassroots leaders have an eye towards meeting short-term needs, while also building the long-term infrastructure that will transform systems and protect vulnerable communities in the future.”

Read the full article about trusting grassroots leadership in grantmaking from The Kataly Foundation at Medium.