Find out more detailed information about our grantmaking programs and policies.
We look at the following criteria categories when determining which organizations to fund and partner with:
Overburdened | Represents communities overburdened by climate impacts and/or environmental injustice in addition to other socioeconomic burdens. (e.g. sacrifice zones)
Movement Alignment | Endorsed by other movement-aligned allies and effectively power building at the grassroots level through (1) community education, organizing and base-building, (2) leadership development, (3) policy advocacy, (4) campaign activism, (5) art / storytelling activism, (6) media activism, (7) research / data activism, and / or (8) capacity building for other movement organizations.
Solution Areas | Supports The Solutions Project (TSP) 100% Solutions (community-determined energy, water, and food systems solutions that align with a just transition to a regenerative economy) and works at the intersection of multiple environmental and social justice issues.
Fiscal Position | 501(c)(3) (or fiscally sponsored) or (c)(4) status, Currently “under-the-radar” of other national and larger scale foundations, currently underfunded, and budget is under $1.5 million.
Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC), Immigrant, and Women / Nonbinary Leadership | Commitment to at least 95% of our resources to BIPOC-led orgs and at least 80% to women or nonbinary leadership.
Communications Interest | Capacity to and interest in lean(ing) into TSP media / storytelling opportunities.
Catalytic Potential | Timing and level of the grant is particularly catalytic for the organization and / or their impact on a particular issue(s) that they are focused on, eg. connecting neighborhood level work to city or state or even federal policy as a way to grow influence and impact, as well as support regional ecosystems, etc.
Creative | Pursuing strategies that are out of the current “business as usual box.”
We support organizations with a 501c3 or fiscal sponsorship agreements that operate with programs at the neighborhood level.
Our grants fund ground-up not-for-profit organizations led-by and governed by the people living in the communities most impacted by the climate crisis and pollution of our air, water and land.
While many of our grantee partners operate businesses and support individual members or volunteers, our grants are eligible only for those directly connected to those community organizations described above. We also support coalitions created and led by frontline organizations.
We are not currently accepting new, unsolicited grant applications.
Due to the heightened needs and expanded programming of our existing grantee partners in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and uprisings for racial justice, our current budget does not allow us to accept proposals from new potential partners. We are actively fundraising to re-open our rapid response Fighter Fund to include small grants to organizations that match our criteria and are new or not currently supported by our grantmaking program.
We have learned from grantees that open applications frequently waste their time and prioritize new or better resourced organizations with fundraising staff, which further harms legacy environmental justice organizations who have been working without resources for decades. With such dire need for funding among proven, but ignored frontline organizations we see our practice here as one of solidarity with and accountability to the climate justice movement.
We raise money to redistribute across the field of organizations at the frontlines of the climate crisis.
Our grant program was launched as the country’s first “intermediary fund” focused on equity and clean energy. That means we are a public foundation and charitable organization that raises funds for independent mission programming. We do not currently have an endowment and raise funds for our operations, capacity building, media, and grantmaking programs so our grants budget depends on our fundraising success.
The Solutions Project is what is called a “public foundation” or funding intermediary. We give grants to those closest to the problems because we know they are closest to the solutions and do not have the philanthropic resources they need and deserve.
Our overall strategy seeks to change culture as the way to get people to pay attention to what’s working and join the broader cause. Providing funding to the diversity of leaders solving the climate crisis with clean energy, safe water, and protected land is the first step. Today, about 1% of donations go to climate justice organizations, with even less to those led by women of color.
Our founders already had a bold vision and actionable case for a world powered 100% by the wind, water and sun — but we knew that order to get free of fossil-fuels, we had to free up resources for leaders of color whose lives and livelihoods were by far the most affected by old dirty energy. Being closest to the problem, those leaders were also already implementing clean energy solutions.
As an intermediary, The Solutions Project believes in partnerships that are rooted in trust and accountability. We want to hear directly from our partners and grantees about what is working and what isn’t when it comes to our grantmaking and integrated programs.
The Solutions Project has partnered with Frontline Solutions to design and implement an ongoing evaluation of the impact of our grantmaking work with our next report expected to be released in Summer 2022. In 2017, the evaluation measured a baseline of both the effectiveness of our grantmaking process and grantee partners’ satisfaction with that process.
We completed an evaluation of our 2019 grantmaking and other direct services to our grantee partners. Data was collected from The Solutions Project’s internal systems and through interviews with grantee partners, staff, consultants, peer funders, and philanthropic trustees.
Our evaluations yielded several recommendations for The Solutions Project’s grantmaking:
- Cultivate stronger and clearer communication with grantees
- Expand grants team capacity
- Clarify messaging on the relationship between communications and grantmakingBuild the grantee referral system
- Continue to democratize the grantmaking process
- Continue to serve as a relationship builder
Download and read our full evaluation reports here: