Hive Fund Update: Growing Imprint of New Climate and Gender Funder

When we last heard from the Hive Fund for Climate and Gender Justice, the new grassroots funding organization had just announced its first round of grantees in the spring of 2020. Almost a full year later, the fund has expanded its grantmaking efforts to four states (and a few regional and national partners) and is making waves in funding impact in the historically underserved American South.

The Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN) is one of the grant recipients from The Hive Fund. WECAN is “a solutions-based organization engaging women and feminists worldwide in policy advocacy, on-the-ground projects, direct action, trainings, and movement building for global climate justice.” (Image Credit: The Hive Fund)

So, What’s Been Going on So Far with The Hive Fund?

What we were initially so excited about was the Hive Fund’s unique approach to fixing a very prevalent problem: The conspicuous funding gap for women’s climate organizations in the American South. And so far, the Hive Fund has proven to be a wave-making, impact-oriented force for the greater good.

Historically, the South is drastically under-funded, for both women’s organizations and organizations fighting climate change. The unique makeup of the Hive Fund’s leadership (an intentional cross-collaboration between a Black woman living in the South and a White woman living in the Bay Area) offered an as-yet-unseen approach to funding in the climate change arena.

“We hope to model the deep collaboration across difference that’s possible when we’re intentional about disrupting white supremacy culture and leaning into our values in every aspect of our work,” said Co-Directors Melanie Allen and Erin Rogers in an interview with The Kresge Foundation, one of the Hive Fund’s supporting organizations.

Over the past year, The Hive Fund has grown to include 26 grantee partners in four states. This doubles the Fund’s initial grantmaking programs: 9 grantees in Texas and Georgia and another 4 serving nationwide or regional interests. All of these organizations are staffed, led, or founded by Indigenous individuals, Black people, and people of color who identify as women or femmes.

“Many endowed foundations struggle with self-imposed barriers that make it difficult to fund work led by and serving people of color, women and marginalized communities,” said Rogers and Allen. “Many white program officers, directors, presidents and board members don’t see or trust Black, Brown and Indigenous people and women as strategic partners and problem solvers. Program officers in more traditional foundations often struggle to make the case to their boards or presidents for funding multi-solvers – groups working on many issue areas at once.”

The new partner program expands the Hive Fund’s impact in Texas and Georgia, as well as new support for Louisiana and North Carolina.

Described as “an epicenter for extreme climate impacts like sea level rise, hurricanes, and climate migration,” Louisiana is one of the hardest-hit American states in regards to climate change. The Hive Fund’s grantee partners in Louisiana include Foundation for Louisiana, a social justice philanthropic intermediary working to address the longstanding inequities that have shaped life outcomes for Louisianans; the Power Coalition for Equity and Justice, a statewide civic engagement and base building table in Louisiana that is working to shift power back to the people through voter participation and community activism; and RISE St. James, a faith-based organization focused on protection of the people and environment of St. James Parish, which has historically been ravaged by petrochemical expansion in the region.

In North Carolina, the Hive Fund partnered with the Center for Energy Education (C4EE), a nonprofit and a center for renewable energy research, education, and workforce development for the eastern United States. Other North Carolina grantees include the North Carolina Black Alliance, which works toward state-level systemic change by strengthening the network of elected officials representing communities of color throughout the state, and the Red-Tailed Hawk Collective, a group of indigenous leaders from four of North Carolina’s state-recognized tribes who fight for land sovereignty and push back against local, state, and federal policies that disproportionately harm Indigenous communities.

Learning about the missions of these new grantee partners adds a new level of excitement as we continue to follow the impact of this small-but-mighty grantmaking entity. It’s wonderful to see the growing impact of a Fund we’ve followed from the beginning, and we’re delighted to see where the Hive Fund goes next.

The Hive Metaphor and Its Significance in Feminist and Climate Strategy and Discourse

“The word ‘hive’ conjures notions of collective activity and is emblematic of the collective action needed to address complex problems like climate change,” wrote Allen and Rogers. “Rugged individualism will not get us where we need to be. The Hive Fund works collaboratively with other climate justice intermediary funds, using complementary grantmaking models to fund healthy ecosystems of groups using a wide array of tactics – like the collective action of many bees. Bees are vital to life and through their pollination enable others to blossom – and are in fact responsible for pollinating one-third of the world’s crops.

“Like the work of bees in nature, few people see the work of local community leaders, but we all benefit from the beauty of the blossoms and the products of their work. Our hope is that our work together as intermediary, funder and grantee partners and collaborators creates a future that is greater and more fulfilling than the sum of our individual efforts.”

The expansion of climate change and social justice organizations in the American South is critical to the wellbeing of all. As the Hive Fund puts it, “Addressing the climate crisis at a scale and in the time needed (cutting carbon emissions at least in half by 2030 and to negative by mid-century) requires transforming the systems of power governing who pollutes, who profits and whose lives are valued. Many Black, Brown and Indigenous communities and leaders are skilled, sophisticated and visionary campaigners for the kinds of systemic changes that lead to climate justice, yet these groups receive less than one percent of philanthropic climate funding.”

As we work to advocate for grassroots organizations like those supported by the Hive Fund, we can hope to see a subsequent increase from that paltry one percent to a portion of philanthropic climate funding deserving of these grassroots campaigns.

We’ll continue to keep an eye on the Hive Fund’s growth and impact, and look forward to seeing what this Fund can do as it continues to expand. Like the vital efforts of honeybees to pollinate the world’s flora, the Hive Fund will continue to rely on collaborative effort and collective impact to address climate and social justice issues.


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Author: Maggie May

Maggie May is a small business owner, author, and story-centric content strategist. A Maryland transplant by way of Florida, DC, Ireland, Philadelphia, and -- most recently -- Salt Lake City, she has a passion for finding stories and telling them the way they're meant to be told.

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