What the world needs now more than ever is more funders who understand and address the deep intersectionalities of human experience. Recently, a new funder launched to do just that. The Hive Fund is dedicated to supporting climate, gender and racial justice, with a focus on the U.S. Southeast. Launched in 2019, it recently released its Spring 2020 grant recipients.
Hive supports Black, Indigenous, and women of color leaders who traditionally have had limited access to philanthropic and other resources. The fund’s mandate is to fund “visionary and strategic efforts of leaders and organizations working at the intersections of climate justice, gender equity, democracy, cultural power and economic justice.” Moreover, Hive aims to embed participatory decision-making in it grant-making process.
While Hive has a national reach, its emphasis on the Southeast makes perfect sense: the South is the nation’s fast-growing region, it has a historically high percentage of African Americans, and a now-burgeoning Latino population. Moreover, Hive notes that the ten Southeastern states account for a third of U.S. climate pollution, and the region is prone to climate-induced severe weather events. Given the high levels of carbon emissions in the Southeast, improvements in this area will not only have a regional effect, but can also help propel national and international effects in combating climate change.
The Southeast is also vital politically, and the region’s women of color are key in changing systems that promote climate injustice. “The southeast is home to several important efforts to protect and expand democracy that will draw the national spotlight in 2020 and beyond,” notes Hive. “Women climate justice leaders are well-positioned to take advantage of the attention to influence debates and shape local and national issue narratives.”
Added Layers of Underfunding in the South
Hive further notes that social change work in the South is underfunded relative to the region’s population. Hive cites the study “As the South Grows” by Grantmakers for Southern Progress and the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, which notes, “foundations give 56 cents per person in the South for every dollar per person invested nationally.” Just over five percent of foundation funding in the South targets women and girls, and “less than one percent flows to those focused on Black women and girls.”
Melanie Allen and Erin Rogers are Hive’s co-directors. Allen previously worked for the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation where she launched the organization’s Energy Equity portfolio, and managed relationships and grantmaking in South Carolina. Rogers, prior to coming to Hive, was a program officer managing the Hewlett Foundation’s US climate change grant-making portfolio. Previously, she managed climate work in the western states for the Union of Concerned Scientists, and worked on environmental and social justice issues in her home state of Texas.
Hive’s Seed Funders and Core Values
Hive has received seed funding from the V. Kann Rasmussen Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the McKnight Foundation, the David and Lucille Packard Foundation, and the Women Donors Network.
Hive lists its core values as
- Trust & collaboration
- Equity & justice
- Healing & wellness
- Heart & mind
- Systems change & strategic impact
- Transparency & accountability
Each of these core values has accompanying grant practices. In its first round of grants, Hive targeted Texas and Georgia. Texas produces double the global warming pollution of any U.S. state. It also has high levels of wealth inequality, and a record of “serious, acute, and chronic health problems that disproportionately impact communities of color and low-income communities.” Hive’s Texas grantees:
- ACTS (Achieving Community Tasks Successfully) of Houston “seeks to leverage citizen science, training and community engagement to address both environmental and social justice.”
- Air Alliance Houston is “a non-profit advocacy organization working to reduce the public health impacts of air pollution and advance environmental justice.”
- Jolt Initiative of Austin aims to “increase the civic participation of Latinos in Texas to build a stronger democracy and ensure that everyone’s voice is heard.”
- Texas Freedom Network Education Fund’s Texas Rising is on college campuses across the state, and is “a movement of young, diverse Texans committed to equality and social justice.”
Georgia on the Frontlines for Hive’s Gender and Climate Justice Work
Georgia is “on the frontlines of the nation’s crisis of democracy” and Hive cites the many ways that the 2018 race for governor denied Black people, people of color, and immigrants their right to participate in the democratic process. Furthermore, Plant Scherer, a coal-fired power plant near Macon, ranks as the nation’s most carbon-polluting power plant, and electric utilities have an unhealthy influence on the political process. Hive’s Georgia grantees:
- 9to5 is a national organization whose members “have been on the frontlines, working for economic security for all women—particularly women of color—for the past 45 years.” It has a strong Georgia presence, and its executive director and development director are based in the state.
- Black Voters Matter Capacity Building Institute is active in several southern states, and “builds power in marginalized, predominantly Black communities.” It notes, “The leadership, talent and commitment demonstrated by Black women in particular must receive recognition and, more importantly, investment in order to flourish.”
- Georgia Conservation Voters Education Fund “envisions a future where Georgians place a high priority on building a just, inclusive, sustainable, and resilient state.”
- Harambee House “works with communities/neighborhoods throughout the southeast and coastal areas that suffer with environmental injustice and issues related to climate change, goods movement, youth leadership development, traffic related air pollution, energy burdens, food apartheid and under-representation in local public policy.”
- ProGeorgia “brings together the power of existing non-profit groups to work in a more strategic way, with new tools and technology, to change the policies of our state.” This work includes centering “the leadership of Women of Color in policy-making and collective power building, strengthening our communities in Georgia.”
In addition to the above-listed organizations, Hive notes that 30 percent of it resources go to national organizations and others outside the southeast to promote climate and gender justice. According to Hive, “Many of these grantees engage artists, storytellers, and culture-makers to help us reimagine what is what is possible, and crystalize ideas in ways that spark social change.” The national grantees include Alternate ROOTS, The Center for Cultural Power, NDN Collective, and the Sunrise Movement.
Philanthropy that engages climate, racial, and gender justice at the same time is taking an intersectional approach. By doing so, this work can have a powerful social impact on many different levels and help address equality, inclusiveness, and systems issues that impact everyone.
Philanthropy Women covers funding for gender equity in all sectors of society. We want to significantly shift public discourse, particularly in philanthropy, toward increased action for gender equality. You can support our work and access unlimited and premium content with one of our subscriptions.
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