On this Earth Day, it is important to acknowledge where those who came before us have gotten it right and where they have come up short. We can at once be proud of the progress that’s been made and acknowledge where we need to do better, and fast.
Philanthropy and our nonprofit partners have accelerated a host of important changes over time, including on environmental issues. But we have not fully appreciated the ways in which our methods have at times stifled the momentum of people of color leading the movements we hope to help.
And we should not stop at grantmaking — because the wealth we hold is powerful in other ways, too. We can work alongside one another to divest our endowments from fossil fuels and simultaneously ramp up investments in companies and funds committed to addressing climate change. There is plenty of room to scale up our impact.
As stewards of vast resources, we in the philanthropic sector have a responsibility to aim for the scale of impact in environmental protection akin to what my great-great grandfather and his peers achieved more than a century ago — and yet also have the chance to do so more equitably than we have in the past. My hope this Earth Day is that our north star will be to collectively expand climate solutions in ways that build power and further racial, economic and generational equity.