While climate change affects us all, its impact on communities of color is particularly severe due to decades of environmental injustice and systemic racism. From higher instances of toxic air pollution to food deserts to the lack of affordable housing, communities of color bear the brunt of climate-related impacts with the least amount of resources to adapt and respond. This is the result of decades of unequal, top-down infrastructure funding—the lingering effects of redlining.
But these communities are not just victims of climate change—they are powerful leaders in the fight against it. When it comes to the existential threat posed by climate change, communities of color are drawing on their deep knowledge of their own neighborhoods and their resilience to build a more sustainable future.
While climate action at the global and national levels is essential, funding climate projects at the grassroots allows communities to tap into the unique needs, resources and cultures of the people they serve. With the Biden Administration’s federal investments in climate action and the wave of private capital that’s being directed to fund climate initiatives, we must fund community-based climate projects to ensure the communities most in need actually benefit from these investments.
One program, Greenlining the Block, shows just how this can be done. Created by The Greenlining Institute, the program is designed to ensure that communities of color who have historically been excluded from decision-making processes can leverage infrastructure investments in their neighborhoods.
Announced in January, Greenlining the Block is a multi-year initiative to center community voices and connect them with institutional support as they lead their own innovative climate initiatives on the ground. Through the program, Greenlining will work with community-based organizations to provide direct annual grants, capacity building support, technical assistance, and peer-to-peer learning alongside other partner organizations.
Equiticity, a racial equity movement based in Chicago, is one of the cohort members of Greenlining the Block, and demonstrates the ingenuity of communities of color to address climate change at the grassroots. Equiticity is improving transportation with its project, The Go Hub Community Mobility Center in Chicago’s North Lawndale, a predominantly Black neighborhood. The area has long experienced severe transportation issues and suffered dramatic environmental degradation, following years of redlining and pollution.
This April, as we continue to celebrate Earth Month, we call on everyone invested in finding solutions to the climate crisis to support the work of community organizations that are leading the fight against climate change at the neighborhood level. Like a stone thrown into a pond, the effects will ripple outward.
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