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$100k Invested in Collective Action for Equity and the Environment

Posted by Sally Gillis

SVP’s Environment Collective Action Team is committed to environmental work that benefits ALL people, and this year they invested $100,000 in pursuit of this goal. Each of their decisions was made in concert with other funders – increasing the overall impact of their investments and setting a strong example for collaborative grant-making. Read more about the groups and projects the EnviroCAT funded below!

City of Seattle’s Equity and Environment Initiative

Seattle is respected nationally for environmental leadership, from resource conservation to climate protection. However, the movement faces similar to challenges to those across the nation. It is primarily white upper-income communities who shape and benefit from environmental policies, approaches, and outcomes.

The City of Seattle wants to change that through their Equity and Environment Initiative that will help to ensure ALL people benefit from Seattle’s environmental progress. They are currently applying for a national grant from The Funders Network’s Partners for Places program in support of the initiative, and need an $85,000 match for the grant.

The EnviroCAT provided a $8,333 grant that is complimented by Loom Foundation and The Seattle Foundation (total for the three is $25,000), a $50,000 contribution from Bullitt Foundation, and $10,000 from Russell Foundation.

While more than one foundation listed above could have committed the whole amount needed, having a wide range of foundation support helps strengthen the application to The Funder Network, and is a reflection of the strong partnership SVP is building with the members of the Sustainable Communities Funders Collaborative.

“A simple, low cost contribution demonstrates the EnviroCAT’s growing commitment to funding collaboratively,” explains EnviroCAT member, Kelly Gode. “This investment will also allow us to identify, learn from, and support new avenues that address equity, economy, and the environment within our community.”

Center for Social Inclusion

With growing commitment to equity among environmental nonprofits, many organizations continue to struggle with turning intent into measurable action. In collaboration with the members of Sustainable Communities Funders (SCF) Collaborative, the Environment Collective Action Team (EnviroCAT) made a grant to the Center for Social Inclusion (CSI) to help build the capacity of the local environmental communities ability to consider and implement equity into their work, and the work of our community.

The Center for Social Inclusion will provide deep technical assistance to a cohort of local nonprofits- bringing best practice tools and resources to support the cohort as they work to establish benchmarks and measurements to support an equity agenda. This pilot project is designed to be replicable nationally, which aligns with CSI’s regional place-based approach toward operationalizing equity.

“This cutting edge effort will focus on diversity, equity, and collective action to help build cross-community connections that can put pressure on the public and private sectors to insure that, as our region grows and prospers, ALL members of the community will benefit,” explains EnviroCAT Chair, Dave Woolley Wilson.

The EnviroCAT’s $57,000 investment will be complimented by $213,000 from the SCF pooled fund, individual foundations that are part of SCF, and national funders who support CSI’s work.

Sustainable Communities Funders Collaborative

Since 2013, SVP has been a member and convener of the Sustainable Communities Funders (SCF) Collaborative, which is co-chaired by Sally Gillis from SVP and Michael Brown from The Seattle Foundation.

This collective of grantmakers is working to develop and promote a systems level strategy linking equity, economy and the environment. SVP dollars will go towards supporting funder coordination and collaboration as well as pooled investments (like the CSI investment above). Priorities for 2015 include:

  • Increase connections to other funders (both local and national) and growing the collaborative
  • Fund a pilot effort that links the environment, equity, and the economy to community participation
  • Develop a learning agenda
  • Increase alignment across our respective organizations
  • Develop relationships with broader group of nonprofits
  • Develop agreement on measuring grantee outcomes and assessing shared investments

This will be SVP’s third year of contributing $25,000 towards the SCF.

Evaluation of Previous and Current Investments

As the EnviroCAT begins its third year of grant-making, they are eager to evaluate the impact of previous and current investments and have set aside $10,000 for this work. Given that many of the EnviroCAT’s investments have been aligned with the SCF, they intend evaluate their investments together. Results from this evaluation will be used to inform future grant-making decisions and will lead to greater impact in the community.


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