Grants for Environmental Justice
Grants for Environmental Justice in the United States
Looking for the latest and active grants for environmental justice? This compiled list of grants will help you start finding funding opportunites for your 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Get even more grants for environmental justice by starting a 14-day free trial of Instrumentl.
LUSH Fresh Handmade Cosmetics
Our Charity Pot funding supports small, grassroots organizations in North America and around the world that are working on the root cause of issues and creating long-term sustainable change.
We support organizations working in the following three areas:
Recognize animals as sentient beings, deserving of care and protection, and who should not be subjected to cruelty or exploitation for human gain.
Defending the rights of nature and standing up for a healthy, sustainable environment for future generations.
Stand for the rights, visibility and equality of all people worldwide and for the defense of those most vulnerable.
Nathan Cummings Foundation
NOTE: NCF accepts letters of inquiry year-round, and conducts three rounds of grantmaking each year. There are no deadlines for Letters of Inquiry — LOIs are accepted on a rolling basis and are reviewed by NCF staff within 60 days.
The Nathan Cummings Foundation is a multigenerational family foundation, rooted in the Jewish tradition of social justice, working to create a more just, vibrant, sustainable, and democratic society. We partner with social movements, organizations and individuals who have creative and catalytic solutions to climate change and inequality.
Pursuing Justice. For People + Planet. The Nathan Cummings Foundation is a multigenerational family foundation, rooted in the Jewish tradition of social justice, working to create a more just, vibrant, sustainable and democratic society through our grantmaking in the United States and Israel.
We focus on finding solutions to the two most challenging problems of our time – the climate crisis and growing inequality – and aim to transform the systems and mindsets that hinder progress toward a more sustainable and equitable future for all people, particularly women and people of color.
Climate Change + Inequality
From the Paris climate agreement to Puerto Rico, the world has declared the climate crisis one of the greatest challenges in our history. It will take all of our ingenuity and resolve to build an inclusive clean economy that lifts people out of poverty and moves everyone, especially those on the front lines, out of the devastating path we now face. We will address the climate crisis from an equity perspective and hold accountable the entrenched interests that have left our nation’s infrastructure and communities vulnerable and have stalled the energy and economic transformation we need. We’ll invest in solutions at the local, state and national level and join forces with diverse, enlightened leaders to chart a new course for a sustainable future.
Millions of Americans face overwhelming obstacles shaped by social hierarchies of race, ethnicity, gender, income, education level or zip code, which restrict their opportunities. In order to address inequality, we will invest in work that reduces implicit bias and discrimination in our public policy, systems and markets. We are particularly concerned about the effects of criminal justice policies and practices on the economic security of hard-working families. With our partners, we seek new and effective pathways to improve quality of life for people and level the playing fields of opportunity. We challenge ideas, policies, practices and systems that perpetuate racial and ethnic stereotypes, criminalize people in poverty, and make it possible for a few to hold a vastly disproportionate share of the nation’s income, wealth and assets.
From our voice, to our grants and our investments, we are using all of our resources to achieve our mission. We are in the business of changemaking, not just grantmaking.
- Investing in Bold Leaders
- Our grantees and Fellows are courageous leaders willing to work in new ways, forge unusual and powerful alliances, and push breakthrough ideas that make the ‘impossible’ possible.
- Using All of Our Assets
- We are committed to leveraging 100% of our assets toward our mission through impact investing and active ownership strategies.
- Raising Our Voice
- How we do our philanthropy is as important as what we do with our philanthropy. We are using our voice, strengthening fields and expanding our networks to increase our impact.
The Foundation’s four focus areas together form an integrated framework to advance a healthy planet and democracy.
Racial + Economic Justice
We work to reverse generations of concentrated wealth and racialized power and patriarchy to get to the root causes of inequality and inequity. To advance racial and economic justice, we stand with groups like Color of Change, who speak out for and with those who are marginalized and criminalized. We’re building power, income and wealth for working people through our partnership with organizations like the National Domestic Workers Alliance and the Workers Defense Project.
NCF supports strategies that challenge policies that criminalize low-income people and people of color, stripping families and communities of their humanity and stability. We invest in leaders, organizations and coalitions working to expand economic opportunity and racial justice by eradicating institutional practices steeped in racial hierarchy, discrimination and implicit bias. We partner with those building pathways to greater economic security, inclusion and mobility for all people by promoting business ownership, wealth and asset-building for people in socially and economically excluded communities. Advancing a truly just society requires creative problem solving along with a diverse set of approaches. Strategies that center and elevate the voices, stories and leadership of directly impacted people, along with the use of art, religious or ethical traditions, are critical to fostering positive cultural shifts toward inclusion and pluralism.
Specifically, we support innovative ideas, strategies, and programs that:
- Increase Income: Improve working conditions for the most vulnerable communities — people of color, women, immigrants and persons with justice-involved backgrounds – to ensure that all work is fair, safe and equitable.
- Build Wealth: Build assets and wealth that lead families to greater economic security and mobility, advancing racial, gender, ethnic and economic justice.
- Disrupt Mass Incarceration: Support critical interventions that reimagine our criminal justice system and overturn policies that disproportionately target low-income people, women and communities of color.
- Reduce Debt: Support necessary interventions at the intersection of increasing income, building wealth and disrupting mass incarceration — recognizing that the issue of debt (who is burdened and who pays) is central to efforts working to achieve greater economic and racial justice.
Inclusive Clean Economy
We support a just transition to an inclusive clean economy where prosperity and a healthy environment go hand in hand. Partners like the Climate Justice Alliance, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, Jobs to Move America and the NAACP Environment and Climate Justice Program are advocating for solutions that bring the environmental and economic benefits of addressing climate disruption and energy use to frontline communities first, not last.
We support bold leaders who strive to create an inclusive clean economy, sparking an energy and economic transformation that reduces harmful carbon emissions in replicable, scalable and equitable ways. Achieving this requires nurturing a more diverse and inclusive movement that both builds power for frontline communities, and shifts narratives from ones that undermine a clean inclusive economy to ones that feature more voices and hold those in charge accountable. We support investments and multi-sector collaborations that spur sustainable development, inclusive wealth building and job creation. Philanthropic capital is critical, and we work to direct it to underfunded parts of the movement.
Specifically, we will support innovative ideas, policies and programs that:
- Build Power: Engage broad and diverse constituencies, mobilize resources and strengthen the movement by supporting frontline leaders advocating for a just and inclusive clean energy economy.
- Shift Narratives: Amplify religious, cultural, business and community stories and demonstrate that resolving the climate crisis and a sustainable economy go hand in hand.
- Demonstrate Solutions and Change Market Behavior: Support models that deliver replicable and scalable climate and clean energy sector benefits concurrently with living wage jobs and inclusive wealth building opportunities.
Corporate + Political Accountability
We activate investors and businesses as allies, advocates and leaders on climate and social justice and work to decrease concentrated corporate power and limit corporate influence in our political system. We support partners like Ceres, Open MIC and the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, and use our standing as an investor to strengthen corporate and political accountability.
NCF focuses our corporate and political accountability work on efforts to hold corporations accountable for the ways in which they impact progress on racial and economic justice and the creation of an inclusive clean economy. We use our standing as both a grantmaker and an investor to spur greater transparency, drive changes in philanthropic, corporate and government behavior, decrease concentrated corporate power and wealth, and challenge problematic narratives underpinning our economy and markets.
Specifically, NCF will support organizations working to:
- Activate Investors: Address inequality and climate change by activating investors to press for increased transparency and drive changes to corporate behavior while challenging the notion that corporations’ primary duty is to their shareholders;
- Decrease Concentrated Corporate Power: Decrease concentrated corporate power through a focus on antitrust law and competition policy, challenging the dominance of the consumer welfare theory and ensuring that the role of concentrated corporate power in driving inequality is widely recognized;
- Leverage Corporations as Allies: Leverage businesses as allies and advocates for progress on important social and environmental issues; and
- Counter Corporate Influence on Government: Highlight and counter undue corporate influence on politicians and regulatory agencies and counter attempts to suppress the role of science and the truth in decision making.
Voice, Creativity + Culture
We aim to shift dominant narratives about race, class, gender and ethnicity and build radical solidarity and empathy through voice, creativity and culture. We support art, media, and cultural criticism that challenge injustice like Firelight Media and the Critical Minded Initiative. We invest in visionaries like the Poor People’s Campaign and Bend the Arc who use faith, spiritual, and cultural practices to seed social transformation and spiritually rooted movements for change.
We recognize the power of storytelling and the arts to reflect and sustain traditions, languages, history, hopes, dreams and truths across generations. By raising the voices of poets and prophets, artists, spiritual leaders and culture shapers to shift the dominant narratives about race, class, gender and ethnicity, we can expand our collective capacity for radical empathy. We encourage voices and values that challenge imbalanced power dynamics and expand racial and economic justice.
Through the Voice, Creativity, and Culture portfolio, NCF supports innovative ideas and portfolios that:
- Artistic Practice: Support arts organizations with a deep commitment to social justice and shift perspectives by supporting new narratives that nurture empathy, understanding and a culture of shared responsibility.
- Storytelling Strategies: Support different modes of storytelling — journalistic, critical and strategic — that contribute to social justice, hold the powerful accountable, and envision a world with respect and empathy at its core.
- Moral Action: Support religious and spiritually grounded activists and organizations who advocate for social justice and democratic values and shift perspectives by advancing new narratives of radical empathy and shared responsibility.
- Spiritual Practices: Support spiritual, cultural, artistic, and contemplative practices that nurture the creativity, resilience, empathy, and healing of activists, organizations, and leaders advancing social change.
The Overbrook Foundation
NOTE: The Overbrook Foundation does not accept unsolicited requests for support from organizations not currently funded by the Foundation. However, we remain committed to our primary fields of interest and are eager to hear news from organizations working in those areas of human and rights and the environment presently of priority to the Foundation.
The Overbrook Foundation is a progressive family foundation that supports organizations advancing human rights and conserving the natural environment.
Honoring the vision and dedication of its founders, Helen and Frank Altschul, The Overbrook Foundation:
- Honors its role as a steward of both the public trust and the Foundation's mission
- Advances programs ethically, responsibly and respectfully
- Is transparent and open
- Engages in its work in a deliberate and thoughtful way
- Takes measured risks
- Employs diverse approaches to seize opportunities and respond to challenges
- Supports social justice and environmental sustainability
- Promotes advocacy, accountability and reform of institutions and government
The Environment Program provides support to environmental organizations in the United States and in Latin America. In Latin America, the Program funds initiatives that advance biodiversity conservation and sustainable community development, with a specific focus on the Mesoamerican region. The Foundation’s Environment Program also seeks out initiatives, primarily in the United States, that tackle some of today’s biggest environmental challenges, including corporate and consumer practices, climate change, and waste. The Program’s Movement Building portfolio aims to understand and support movements – rather than specific organizations or issues – to make them stronger, more resilient, and more impactful.
The Foundation’s Environment Program will consider supporting organizations working on the following issues:
Latin American Biodiversity Conservation
The Overbrook Foundation recognizes the value of protecting endangered biodiversity and the vital environmental and social benefits it provides. The Biodiversity Conservation program area supports programs in Latin America, with a specific focus on Mesoamerica, where globally important species and ecosystems face a wide range of threats. The Foundation seeks out projects that create practical solutions to these threats, particularly those that promote sustainable livelihoods and engage local communities in conservation efforts.
Corporate and Consumer Practices
The Foundation’s Corporate and Consumer Practices program area supports organizations that build towards a sustainable future, particularly by shifting corporate and consumer environmental practices. Funded projects range from direct engagement with corporations, to activism against destructive industries, to public education and media that amplifies efforts to improve consumer behavior surrounding energy and consumption. These initiatives work towards a sustainable economy that relies less on destructive, extractive practices and more on renewable, circular production and consumption models. In seeking projects making an impact in these areas, the Foundation prioritizes organizations that are grassroots-led, that hold the potential to serve as industry or community “tipping points,” and that apply a climate change analysis to their work.
Advances in technology, the growth of social media, and increased global awareness and investment are providing new and exciting environmental tools. The Foundation began a small program area that invests in organizations that are creating, developing, and implementing new and innovative approaches to sustainability and conservation.
The Movement Building program area was created in 2014 in an effort to understand and support movements – rather than specific organizations or issues – to make them stronger, more resilient, and more impactful. This area supports organizations that build networks and alliances, recognize the interdependence of their work with that of other organizations, and seek to advance the mission of the broader progressive movement, beyond individual issue areas. While formally a part of the Foundation’s Environment Program, the Movement Building portfolio ties together the Environment and Human Rights Programs, emphasizing organizations that work in the intersections of both movements.
The Overbrook Foundation has supported civil and human rights since its earliest years. Carrying this legacy forward, Overbrook currently provides funding to human rights organizations in the United States and Latin America.
For Overbrook, human rights organizations are those that see human rights as universal, inalienable, indivisible and interdependent. They lead with the people and communities impacted by the issues they are working on. They are values driven, have an all of us or none of us perspective in their analysis and messaging, and they work across sectors and identities, recognizing the range of their constituents’ needs and rights. Overbrook’s human rights grantmaking is currently focused on three programmatic initiatives and one initiative remains in development.
Internationally, the Foundation funds organizations that support human rights defenders at risk in Mesoamerica. As a part of this focus, Overbrook supports groups providing legal assistance, training, emergency grants, advocacy, accompaniment, networks and/or psychosocial support to human rights defenders at risk given the grave threats many activists face for engaging in their important human rights work.
Domestically, the Foundation currently awards grants in two areas. First, it supports organizations challenging the undue influence of moneyed interests in the U.S. political system. These organizations are working to make our government and policy makers more accountable to the people by reforming the role of money in our political system. The Foundation’s gender rights program currently supports organizations working across reproductive justice and LGBT rights issues. This includes a focus on funding organizations advancing the reproductive justice movement and those challenging overly broad religious exemptions being used to undermine LGBT rights, racial justice and reproductive justice.
Finally, the Foundation is exploring a newer area of grantmaking using a human rights approach to challenge mass incarceration and criminalization, building on Overbrook’s long term support for organizations advancing a U.S. human rights movement. This initiative remains in development.
As described above, the Foundation’s Human Rights grantmaking can be divided into the following initiatives:
- Domestic Human Rights
- Gender Rights
- Human Rights Defenders
- Money in Politics
The Pollination Project
The Pollination Project seeks to unleash the goodness in every person. Through a daily practice of generosity and giving, we make seed grants- 365 days a year- to social change agents who seek to spread compassion in their communities and in the world for the benefit of all.
The Pollination Project values “compassion consciousness.”
Compassion consciousness means we think through and acknowledge the impact of our choices and our work: from the food we eat, to the questions we ask, to the office supplies we use, to the projects we fund and, ultimately, to the institutions and systems we challenge.
As we are deeply interconnected to all life, we play an integral role in supporting or obstructing its ability to thrive, through our thoughts, words, and deeds. Every person has the potential and power to transform our world, and that change starts with ourselves. How we show up is like the soil in which we plant our intentions, vision and hope for the world. If we are fearful, anxious, angry and resentful, what we plant will reflect this. If our soil is rich with love, compassion, beauty and joy, what we plant will be loving, compassionate, beautiful and joyful. As we are, so our work is.
As Dr. Cornel West says, “Justice is what love looks like in public.” Compassion consciousness includes lifting up the oppressed, the unseen and the voiceless. Expanding compassion towards ALL life: human and non-human, is our highest intention.
We seek to fund at the very grassroots. We are interested in projects that are created by and with those who are most impacted. We look to fund people and teams who have considered the many ways their project impacts life, directly and indirectly, all over the world and who have made thoughtful choices about how to achieve their goals.
Project Funding Areas
- Animal Rights & Welfare
- Arts & Culture
- Economic Empowerment
- Environmental Sustainability
- Health & Wellness
- Human Rights & Dignity
- Kindness & Generosity
- Leadership Development
- Schools & Education
Pollination Project Seed Grant
The Purpose of a Pollination Project Seed Grant is to support passionate, committed people with an early-stage social change vision.
Our Grants are designed to:
- Support passionate, committed people with a social change vision.
- Support projects in their early stage of development and where a small amount of money will go a very long way – we want to kick start your dreams for a better world.
- Help ensure sustainability of your work – during review, we often ask: “what happens once the grant runs out?”
- Cover costs such as supplies, program materials, direct travel expenses, website fees, discounted professional services, printing, copying, promotional costs, technical support.
- Pay for 501(c)(3) filing fees and expenses only if your project meets our specific conditions.
- Support projects with a clear target audience, and a compelling plan to reach and impact that target audience in a positive way.
- If your project involves video or other media production, then this element of your plan will receive particularly careful attention from our team.
- Support projects that do not expect to earn profit, or where any income will be used for a purely charitable effort. We do also offer Pay it forward loans to support for-profit social benefit projects.
- The goal of our funding is to provide the means for individuals and small, not yet established, organizations to really kick start their work. If you currently pay any full time staff members on a regular basis, then you likely do not qualify for a grant with The Pollination Project.
We consider ongoing expenses to be things like paying rent on an existing lease, paying utility bills, or other costs that generally keep the lights on for an already established organization but do not directly lead to the future sustainability or expansion of a project.
Areas of Funding
Sparkplug funds projects to educate or support communities, including but not limited to school-age students, that move beyond traditional classroom instruction. In keeping with our justice-oriented framework, we fund education projects that engage excluded students in new ways, projects that restore knowledge that has been marginalized through racism or colonialism, and projects that rebuild community and collective problem-solving.
We're especially interested in supporting critical and investigative thinking, and projects that address race, gender, and class disparities in education. We do fund community-based education and social justice curriculum development, For example, we have funded the development and sharing of curriculum that explores connections between Palestine and the US/Mexico border region to teach students to think critically about the impact of militarized border zones on youth, families and the environment.
We do not directly fund schools and do not fund programs that have been eliminated by budget cuts. Finally, we do not fund arts projects under this funding area.
Some examples of education projects that we have funded in the past include:
- A program using digital tools to educate consumers on how they can support farmworkers rights.
- A youth-led education campaign exposing and opposing militarization in their community.
- A digital platform to preserve the archives of a local black community.
- A year-long program bringing together social and environmental justice organizers to train new organizers and develop joint community projects.
Sparkplug funds work by members of a community for their community -- work that aims to create justice by making systemic change and/or shifting power. Or in other words, we fund projects that are created, run by, and meet the needs of people with shared lived experience who face the same types of oppression, discrimination, violence, or barriers, who live in the same area, or who have a shared vision and aspirations for the future.
For example, We DO fund projects created and led by LGBTQ youth to change policies that affect them, but we DON’T fund programs that provide social services for LGBTQ youth.
Some other examples of community organizing that we have funded in the past include:
- A farmworker-led campaign against deportations and for access to drivers licenses for undocumented people.
- Training community members as housing organizers as part of a campaign to build their leadership capacity and win local housing justice.
- Support to frontline communities in energy democracy organizing.
- A COVID-19 related mutual aid and advocacy project by and for people experiencing homelessness.
Recognizing the critical importance of music in bringing communities together and building collective creativity, Sparkplug supports emerging musicians in developing new work, sharing existing work with a wider community through events or media, bringing together musicians to collaborate on creating or performing pieces, or facilitating new workshops that bring music to oppressed communities. Applicants for music grants will be asked to submit a sample of their music with their Letter of Intent form.
Please note that we do not provide budget replacement funding for music programs in the education system suffering from budget cuts. The best way to understand whether your project may be fundable is to look at our past music grants.
Some examples of music projects that we have funded in the past include:
- A music and other media production of a multi-ethnic Ottoman world, drawing on the stories and songs of Sephardic women.
- Commissioned compositions and the production of CDs in selected genres.
- The development of a musical program, using historical materials, memorializing the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire in 1911.
- A multi-media, semi-staged performance based on the life and poetry of the celebrated Italian Renaissance poet, Torquato Tasso.
Mitsubishi Corporation Foundation for the Americas
Note: Most grants are pursuant to proposals solicited by MCFA. Ideal timing for proposals is during the first quarter of the calendar year.
Founded in 1992, the mission of the Mitsubishi Corporation Foundation for the Americas (MCFA) s to promote environmental causes throughout the Americas in the broadest sense, which encompasses both the physical and social environments in which we live.
We support a wide range of projects in the following four categories:
- Biodiversity Conservation: We promote the conservation of biological diversity and natural resources by supporting research, the establishment of protected areas, and strategies for valuing the natural environment such as Payments for Ecosystem Services.
- Sustainable Development: We support sustainable development by means of local livelihood development for communities in environmentally sensitive areas, support for small and medium size enterprises in developing countries, and by promoting sustainable business practices.
- Environmental Justice: We promote environmental justice by supporting the rights of marginalized communities to live in a clean and safe environment and participate in decision-making that impacts their environment. This helps to ensure that the burdens of industrial development are not unfairly imposed on those communities that are the most vulnerable to negative environmental impacts.
- Environmental Education: We support environmental education programs that raise public awareness about the environment, and foster greater appreciation for the value and scarcity of natural resources, and the importance of environmental stewardship.