SOCAP24: Going Deeper, Catalyzing Systems Change — Tracks and Curation Councils Released!

Supporting the Frontlines of Climate Justice: Funding Early and Funding Big

SOCAP Global April 12, 2024

A Money + Meaning Podcast with Abdiel López, Lauren Ressler, Supriya Lopez Pillai, and Alana Linderoth

By re-examining traditional methods of investing and funding, foundations and endowments are working with partners to connect capital with communities most affected by the climate crisis. This path helps center the voices of people in frontline communities who are most familiar with the challenges and addresses social and environmental impacts, from pollution to health inequity to systemic racism.  

Leaders from social justice organizations and foundations discussed how they are reshaping their work to support community wealth creation and strategies to mitigate climate change in a new Money and Meaning podcast recorded at SOCAP23. The session featured:

  • Abdiel López, Director of Capital Activation at Justice Funders, which partners with philanthropic organizations to advance a more just and thriving world.
  • Lauren Ressler, Reinvest Project Co-Director at Climate Justice Alliance, which takes a local approach to support a just transition from extractive systems toward resilient, regenerative, and equitable economies.
  • Supriya Lopez Pillai, Executive Director at Hidden Leaf Foundation, a family foundation with a mission to support social justice movements.  
  • Moderator Alana Linderoth of Mongabay, a nonprofit conservation and environmental science news platform. 

At Justice Funders, López works with foundations to shift away from extractive investment practices and instead move resources and assets into regenerative economic projects led by frontline communities across the country. “We do that through a constellation of different entry points and programs that help our funders really understand what a just transition is and really move from the more extractive philanthropic practices that they’re currently upholding and toward more regenerative transformation,” López said. “They start moving away from investing in the global stock market and the extractive economy and really align that with their values and their grant-making ethos.”

To support that transition, Justice Funders launched an Integrated Capital Fund and a Just Transition Investment Community that provides a peer learning and action community for staff and trustees of philanthropic institutions. “In that framework, we really start to highlight and underline the importance of not just shifting capital into the hands of frontline communities but also shifting power,” López said. “We’re flipping the script, rewriting the rules. Philanthropy has created the rules, and we can rewrite them.”

Ressler said Climate Justice Alliance created its Reinvest in Our Power Campaign as a collaborative effort to address inequity and democratize wealth. The campaign calls on philanthropy to move $100 million from the extractive economy and reinvest it in the regenerative economy being built and led by frontline communities around the world. 

By changing funding structures to support worker cooperatives in frontline communities, Climate Justice Alliance creates connections to advance long-term change. “It’s not just all of the good things we’re trying to build, but it’s the praxis of how we get there,” she said. “It’s repair, it’s centering relationships in everything we do, and it’s trusting that communities who are most impacted have the solutions and know what to do with it if they have the resources shifted toward them.”

Hidden Leaf Foundation is among the foundations and philanthropies changing its funding philosophy. For more than 30 years, the foundation has provided long-term, low-barrier grantmaking to support social justice movements. Now, the foundation is aligning its investments with its social justice mission, Lopez Pillai said.

“You make your money over here, so you can do your grantmaking over there,” she said. “We went from low-barrier grantmaking to low-barrier community investments and what we call deep-impact investments, and it strengthened our impact investing overall.”

Listen to the full Money + Meaning conversation to hear more on topics including:

  • The true meaning of a just transition.
  • The dynamics of risk and return. 
  • The importance of co-creation.

Don’t miss out! Subscribe to Money + Meaning on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, Spotify, or anywhere else you find podcasts. 

Listen to more episodes of Money + Meaning here.

Money + Meaning is the official podcast of SOCAP. The series aims to expand the conversation around impact investing and strategies to finance and support social change while stimulating innovative and valuable new partnerships across sectors.

Climate Action / Impact Investing
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