In philanthropy, ‘grassroots’ is often equated with ‘community’ and with ‘small-scale’. Grassroots solutions do come from the community, but they are not often small. And because grassroots solutions come from the people most impacted by the problem they seek to solve, they can be more effective and holistic in the problems they address.
As communities around California, the nation, and the world are facing increasing impacts and threats from the climate crisis, funders have a unique opportunity to invest in movements building locally, nationally, and internationally. The climate crisis demands that “business as usual” stop and transform, and that includes philanthropy.
In this two-part dialogue series, we will unpack the many different forms of grassroots action in confronting the climate crisis, and hear directly from frontline voices on the inroads for – and the hurdles facing – grassroots movements. We will also address the question, “What role does philanthropy play in supporting action towards justice, collective health, and sustainability?”
The CLIMA Fund and guest speakers from grassroots movements will connect the dots across the ecological and social crises, and how grassroots solutions are growing to meet the challenge. This two-part series will help you break down what that means for you and your grant portfolio. Participants will walk away from the series with a deeper understanding of how climate justice movements are advancing change, and how they can practically take action in support. Institutional funders, individual donors, and philanthropic advisors are encouraged to join.
Session 1 will address the following dialogue questions: What is ‘grassroots’? Why & how are grassroots movements the greatest hope for minimizing climate impacts? How grassroots movements work within, outside, and beyond the system. We will outline the four types of grassroots climate solutions in the Soil to Sky: Climate Solutions That Work report, the importance of frontline leadership, and the characteristics of grassroots solutions.
This program is open to members of Catalyst, Northern California Grantmakers and Southern California Grantmakers only.
Wendy Cruz, Technical Advisor, La Via Campesina (International Peasants’ Movement)
Wendy’s (she/her) career has focused on the international peasants’ movement Vía Campesina. As a feminist, she is part of the international platform on November 25th-International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. She works to advance the feminist movement to enable the reflection around women’s progress and actions on the social, political, and economic change that support a just society for women in Honduras. Through her work with the Instituto de Formación Cooperativista (Cooperative Development Institute), she helped form Organizaciones Campesinas de Honduras(Peasant Organizations of Honduras). She continues her work as part of the technical team with Vía Campesina, which focuses on supporting rural women, as well as working on projects related to human rights, organizational development, and land defense.
Solomé Lemma, Executive Director, Thousand Currents
Solomé (she/her) works closely with the board to set the strategic direction for Thousand Currents and is responsible for ensuring Thousand Currents remains a dynamic, innovative, and financially-sound organization, rooted in its support of grassroots partners. A champion of social transformation through community-driven initiatives, Solomé joins Thousand Currents from Africans in the Diaspora (AiD), an initiative she co-founded and led for four years before its merger with Thousand Currents. Previously, Solomé served as Global Fund for Children’s Senior Program Officer for Africa, managing a portfolio of over 100 grassroots organizations in about 25 countries. She has also worked with the UN Development Programme in Ethiopia, Human Rights Watch in New York City, and International Rescue Committee in Liberia. She is a White House Champion of Change for her work with diaspora communities, a fierce supporter of local leadership, and is a strong voice against “inequitable and ineffective partnerships.” She was named one of Foreign Policy Magazine’s “100 women to follow on Twitter” at @innovateafrica.
Maria Lopez-Nuñez, Deputy Director of Organizing and Advocacy, Ironbound Community Corporation / Climate Justice Alliance
Maria (she/her) grew up in Bushwick and remembers going back to Honduras as a kid to connect with her roots and swim in her rivers. Being displaced multiple times by colonization, racism, and violence sparked her commitment to fight multiple extractive industries and end sacrifice zones once and for all. The Ironbound district of Newark, New Jersey, where she resides is predominantly Black and Latinx, is one of the most toxic neighborhoods in the country, and like many are also getting gentrified at an unprecedented rate. In her role as Deputy Director of Advocacy and Organizing of Ironbound Community Corporation (ICC); she fights the bad and builds the new challenging the current political system, holding power brokers and polluters accountable while fighting for environmental, housing, immigrant, and racial justice. She has organized and helped the passage of historic and landmark city and state legislation such as the Right to Council, the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB), and the Environmental Justice Cumulative Impacts Bill. All of which will significantly increase the quality of life of those that are often deemed disposable.
Lindley Mease, Director, Climate Leaders in Movement Action (CLIMA) Fund (moderator)
Lindley (she/they) is dedicated to building solidarity for grassroots movements advancing just and regenerative solutions to climate change. In addition to coordinating the CLIMA Fund, Lindley is the Co-Founder of Blue Heart, an organization that organizes millennial donors to give to frontline organizations in the U.S. In these roles, she is working to advance accountable philanthropy and to elevate the stories of grassroots organizations building real political power. Lindley also teaches at Stanford University’s Design School; is a community mediator; an avid watercolorist and salsa dancer; and is a member of LeftRoots, a national formation of social movement activists.