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SVP International

$65K Invested in Collective Action for Environmental Justice

Posted by Zamzam Abdulgani

Photo / Puget Sound Sage

This year, SVP’s Environment Collective Action Team (EnviroCAT) invested in advancing environmental solutions that benefit all people. They focused specifically on initiatives and organizations that engage and represent the needs of low-income people and communities of color – recognizing that they are often disproportionately affected by environmental degradation.

Front and Centered

Front and Centered is a coalition of 60 people of color-led organizations working across the state to amplify the power of historically marginalized voices in the environmental movement. Front and Centered believes that organizations that are led and based in communities have the trusted relationships, knowledge and expertise to create change.

SVP’s $30,000 grant will support priorities that emerged from the coalition’s strategic planning process. Throughout the next year, Front and Centered will launch the next phase of their work — a comprehensive and inclusive strategy that further shapes the environmental justice movement in Washington State.

This investment will build on years past by ensuring equitable distribution of funds, driving policy designs and design, and elevating the stories of communities of color in the field. This year’s investment will also build on Front and Centered’s research and community engagement processes by leveraging their learnings and developing tools to shift attention to incorporating public input in legislative processes, while also working to increase civic engagement in communities of color statewide.

The SVP’s Environment Collective Action Team continues to be impressed with the growth of the coalition, and their role in shifting the narrative around who can lead the environmental movement in Washington.

Puget Sound Sage

Puget Sound Sage combines research, innovative public policy and organizing to ensure all people have an affordable place to live, a good job, a clean environment and access to public transportation. Puget Sound Sage builds their strategy around the belief that solutions to address negative environmental impacts should be driven by communities who have borne the brunt of pollution for decades.

SVP’s $15,000 investment will build on Sage’s existing partnership with the City of Seattle and community-based organizations to develop holistic resilience strategies, as well as benchmarks for assessing equitable outcomes of energy policy.

Over the next year, Sage hopes to define metrics for equitable renewable energy policies and projects so municipal programs can develop a baseline for best practices as it relates to just transition. Sage will also build out a new initiative with community partners around New Holly — a mixed-income community in Beacon Hill — to work on innovative, community-created renewable energy solutions. This initiative will be the first of its kind in the states, Sage will work with community partners to scale the unlocking creativity program, designed by Amy Smith of MIT. This program focuses first on the design process, recognizing that when people create a solution to a challenge they’re facing, it transforms the way they think about themselves. Sage hopes to harness this belief allowing for community members at New Holly a predominately immigrant community to self-determine the solutions to their energy problems. Ultimately, in hopes that this model can then be used to address other challenges facing communities of color.

Spark Northwest / ECOSS

Spark Northwest and ECOSS recognize that while solar energy has become more popular in recent years, low-income households especially those in rental housing have been left out of the clean energy economy.

The Environment Collective Action Team awarded $15,000 to Spark Northwest and ECOSS to support their work together addressing the critical issue of housing affordability by delivering the benefits of solar energy to low income renters in Seattle and delivering resident outreach to affordable housing tenants.

This partnership leverages their strengths of increasing local ownership and control of clean energy while also providing education opportunities for diverse communities to implement sustainable practices. SVP’s investment will help the organizations deploy solar at housing sites in King County and ensure residents share in the benefits of these clean energy projects. Their goal is to build their own capacity to build relationships with communities of color, design a focus group process to be responsive to these needs, all culminating in an energy curriculum to scale accessibility to solar for low income communities.

SVP’s investment is complemented by funding from the 11th Hour Project, Bullitt Foundation and the Bonneville Environmental Foundation.

Toxic-Free Future

Toxic-Free Future (TFF) believes that all families should have equitable access to food and water clean of toxic contamination and products made without chemicals. TFF works to create policies that reduce public exposure to toxins, and cut down on toxics in the environment. While they have been incredibly successful in strategically engaging with stakeholders to effectively address issues that impact our region. TFF recognizes that to remain effective and ensure everyone in Washington is free from the health and environmental impacts of toxins in our community, they need to center racial equity.

SVP’s $5,000 grant will allow TFF to identify how to operationalize racial equity within their organization and work.

TFF has had longstanding success building relationships to enact policies. While their work is rooted in justice for all communities, they understand that most often low-income communities and communities of color are disproportionately impacted by toxic chemicals, and are more likely to live next to toxic waste sites. Their hope for this assessment is to develop an authentic approach for addressing equity in their community engagement model. As well as evaluate their internal policies and processes to identify gaps, and develop actionable tools to address them.

Get Involved

If you are interested in learning more about SVP’s collective action work or about joining one of our Collective Action Teams to help select next year’s investees, contact Mike Quinn.

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