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NCG Expands Efforts to Secure an Equitable Climate-Resilient California

by Alan Kwok, PhD., Director of Climate and Disaster Resilience, Northern California Grantmakers and Philanthropy California

Climate change is here to stay. Although what’s needed seems endless as the impacts will worsen in the coming years, I am hopeful. Since joining the sector four years ago, I have seen an increasing number of funders exploring new ways to address climate change.  

As philanthropic support for this work expands, the sector is beginning to equip communities with the resources to leverage and hold government agencies accountable for the billions of public investments being directed to building resilient communities. We’re seeing funders create climate grantmaking programs or add climate investments into existing funding portfolios, and several are working with frontline organizations to support local advocacy efforts and develop workforce pipelines for wildfire resilience. Though these are hopeful signs, it is still not enough. Climate change is occurring at a much faster rate than climate-related investments and the percent of philanthropic dollars directed at addressing climate change is still a single-digit.

Northern California Grantmakers (NCG) and Philanthropy California statewide alliance efforts comes at the heel of growing threats and impacts of climate-driven natural hazards across the state, including the increasing frequency and intensity of wildfires, extreme heat days, droughts, and floods. While it is true that climate change affects everyone, Black, Indigenous communities of color, and rural communities are feeling the effects of climate change at an accelerated rate. These communities are experiencing everything from water insecurity to fallowed small farms, increased morbidity and mortality from wildfire smoke and co-pollutants, housing displacements, lower educational outcomes, and more. 

Accelerating climate-related grantmaking and investments 

Beginning 2022, NCG and Philanthropy California have reoriented our disaster resilience efforts to include climate equity. This reorientation recognizes that building climate-resilient communities are foundational to any socioeconomic and environmental progress that we want to achieve. As communities across California continue to face the consequences of climate-driven natural hazard events such as droughts, wildfires, and extreme heat events, our sector must broaden its philanthropic efforts to include equitable climate mitigation and adaptation. The ever-changing and growing landscape of climate investments from the public and private sectors means philanthropy has a critical role to play in ensuring these investments truly benefit people and communities that are disproportionately at risk of and impacted by climate change.  

NCG’s north star is racial equity. We are committed to connecting and mobilizing philanthropy to build a region committed to racial equity. Together we can amplify solutions, connect and coordinate philanthropic investments, while working with and advocating for our frontline leaders as we work towards a climate-resilient California. 

What’s new at NCG and Philanthropy California? 

With our expanded focus on climate equity, With our expanded focus on climate equity, NCG has adopted a new climate and disaster resilience strategic framework centering racial equity and focusing on specific populations, geography, issues, and philanthropic strategies that require accelerated grantmaking and investments.  This framework will help guide where we focus as we help bring along members and non-members alike to build climate resilience. Only through coordinated partnerships can we collectively address the growing threat of climate change. We look forward to engaging the philanthropic community on our expanded climate and disaster resilience efforts, including: 

1. Join the new Funders for Climate Equity network 

NCG has launched its newest network, Funders for Climate Equity in partnership with Smart Growth California and the League of California Community Foundations. We kicked off the inaugural meeting of funders in April and we will continue to meet regularly. If you have any inklings about how to incorporate a climate justice lens into your existing portfolios or want to collectively learn about intersectional issues facing communities, this is the group for you! Learn more here

2. Expanding our policy and advocacy efforts  

Building on our previous disaster resilience advocacy efforts, we will focus on climate equity-related policy and advocacy efforts at the state and federal levels. Efforts include identifying and tracking key bills and legislations in partnerships with other organizations and disseminating information to the philanthropic community to take action. We welcome the philanthropic community to connect with us to share policies and government programs that you are tracking, so we can share with the broader philanthropic community. Connect with us!

3. A new cross-sector climate and disaster resilience advisory committee 

We recognize our role as a philanthropy-serving organization means that our primary audience is the funding community. Yet, we cannot lose sight that our work must advance racial equity and social justice in the communities that we serve. To this end, NCG looks to form an advisory committee consisting of leaders from frontline communities, philanthropy, research institutions, and selected government agencies. The committee will inform our programs, external communications, policy and advocacy work, funders coordination efforts, and other strategies. We will provide more information about this advisory committee and nomination process at a later date.

4. Increasing our capacity with a full-time climate and disaster resilience fellow 

We’re thrilled to announce a new team member helping us accelerate our climate and disaster resilience efforts. Welcome to the team, Katie Oran! Learn more about what Katie will be supporting and how to connect here.  

5. Start planning now

I would like to end this (long) blog by inviting you to learn more about our work. Take a look at the beliefs guiding our work and learn more about what you can do to co-create an equitable climate future. 

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