Advancing Racial & Climate Justice in Our Region

On Wednesday, April 22, 2020, the world will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. In a time when even writing the word “celebration” feels mismatched to what our hearts are feeling, we are hopeful an antidote may be to share good news of our region’s climate resiliency efforts. We are pleased to announce that the San Diego Grantmakers Social Equity Collaborative Fund, in partnership with The San Diego Foundation, has recently awarded $400,000 in racial and climate justice grants to four grassroots, community-based organizations.

This partnership combines the regional impact of The San Diego Foundation Climate Initiative with the social justice focus of the San Diego Grantmakers Social Equity Collaborative Fund to launch a climate justice funding initiative that connects and amplifies a community-driven approach to local climate solutions.

The global pandemic has exacerbated inequities those working in climate resiliency have long worked to address. Low income communities of color in our region disproportionately are impacted by the negative effects of climate change – including poor air quality, lack of access to green spaces, and higher health risks. Exposure to air pollution – specifically particulate matter – makes people more vulnerable to some of the more severe health issues, like respiratory distress, caused by Coronavirus. And that is to say nothing of the economic toll of this pandemic, which lands on these communities in layer upon layer.

“Our community knows well the racial disparities that the global pandemic has starkly exposed,” said Megan Thomas, vice president of Collaboration and Special Initiatives for San Diego Grantmakers. “We cannot address these issues without addressing equity,” she stated.

Scientific research shows us that climate change remains a public health emergency, and it will be important to take bold action once COVID-19 is behind us to increase resilience, create jobs, and build an economy powered by clean energy. San Diego Grantmakers’ Social Equity Collaborative Fund, in partnership with The San Diego Foundation, is pleased to support the following organizations and projects seeking to address these disparities for our region:

SECF Climate Justice Funding Awardees
Above (L-R): Project New Village’s Community Garden filled with volunteers; a San Diego Transportation Equity Working Group meeting; Fresh produce box from Solidarity Farm; SDUSC’s Climate Ambassador Program. All images shared from organizations. 

Solidarity Farm has been awarded $100,000 that will be leveraged to build equity on both the supply and demand side of our food system by encouraging climate-smart production methods on our regional small farms and increasing the amount of fresh, healthful, climate-smart food that is available in Southeast San Diego and near North County reservations.

“We can cultivate climate resilient seeds and build healthier soil to offset rising temperatures, floods and droughts…but it doesn’t mean anything if only the most well-off can afford to eat the food we grow. This grant will allow us to pilot food system solutions that address the equity issues at the core of our climate crisis,” said Hernan Cavazos, Production Coordinator at Solidarity Farm

The San Diego Transportation Equity Working Group, a collaborative at the Environmental Health Coalition (EHC) of grassroots social justice, economic justice, and environmental justice organizations from across San Diego County has been awarded $100,000 in support of the group’s critical work to address longstanding inequities in transit investments that disproportionately affect communities of color. Through equitable investments in mass public transit, the group seeks to advance and implement regional transportation plans that prioritize reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in climate vulnerable communities of color.

“The work that EHC and its partners do to fight for transportation and environmental justice helps make our community cleaner and safer, so that residents can have a better quality of life,” City Heights community member Esperanza Gonzalez reflected.

Project New Village, a catalyst for resident-led, community-rooted experiences that build strong neighborhoods, improve the food supply chain, stimulate collective investment in better health and maximize the impact of investment to address social inequities, has been awarded $75,000 to engage in regional community dialogue and collaboration with rural and indigenous communities in the North County, East County, and South County/San Diego Border Region that have been historically reaped from agricultural production, but continue to be food poor and most affected by climate change.

“As a small community rooted organization, Project New Village has less than one full time employee and relies heavily on volunteers to carry out the work. This grant will increase our capacity to engage the community and other stakeholders in a process to gain understanding and actively get involved in practices that mitigate the impact of climate change,” stated N. Dian Moss, Managing Director of Project New Village

The San Diego Urban Sustainability Coalition (SDUSC), a grassroots organizing group that informs processes and policy to improve the quality of life for residents of Southeast San Diego and other resilient communities, was awarded $125,000 in support of the Climate Ambassadors program, which works to educate community members while deepening relationships between the City, key organizations and communities of color to generate greater alignment around environmental justice and equity.

“Communities of concern are on the front-lines of climate change, bearing the brunt of environmental degradation and air pollution. Despite these immediate dangers, these communities are also often the last to receive access to important renewable energy education, technology and job training opportunities. These funds will strengthen the alignment and coordination between jobs, social equity, and climate,” Maria A. Muhammad, co-leader of SDUSC stated.

This grantmaking is made possible through a partnership between The San Diego Foundation and the San Diego Grantmakers Social Equity Collaborative Fund. The Social Equity Collaborative Fund is an initiative of San Diego Grantmakers, a group of funders and individuals working together to contribute to improved economic, social and physical well-being of San Diego and Imperial County residents. SECF was seeded through generous contributions from The California Endowment and The Satterberg Foundation, and the climate resiliency grants have been made possible through a $300,000 contribution from The San Diego Foundation through its Climate Initiative.

Grants are awarded by an independent steering committee comprised of funders and subject matter experts.

“Environmental justice is built on the belief that by working together we can create a brighter future for present and future generations,” shared Lydia Van Note, director of Environment Initiatives at The San Diego Foundation. “By looking at climate change through a human rights and racial equity lens, we can strengthen the impact of philanthropy on all our communities and work toward a brighter future for all San Diegans.”



About The San Diego Foundation

The San Diego Foundation maximizes the impact of your charitable giving. We mobilize philanthropic resources to advance quality of life, increase social impact and champion civic engagement. For more than 40 years, The Foundation and our donors have granted more than $1.2 billion to grow a vibrant San Diego region. Learn more on our website, and consider a donation to the San Diego COVID-19 Community Response Fund.

About San Diego Grantmakers

San Diego Grantmakers (SDG) is a nonprofit membership organization of more than 120 organizations and individual philanthropists seeking to improve outcomes for residents of San Diego and Imperial Counties, and beyond. Through learning, cross-sector collaboration, advocacy, grantmaking, and impact investing we connect and activate funders to learn, lead, and invest in our community. San Diego Grantmakers’ vision is an equitable, collaborative, and impactful social change ecosystem that improves the lives of all residents in our region. To learn more, visit