2022 Impact Report
Climate Justice Delivers
Solutions that center community and justice bring wide-scale and impactful results.
Letter From the CEO
It's time to double down on our support for the grassroots
Foreword from Gloria Walton,
President + CEO of The Solutions Project.
Bridgid Coulter Cheadle, entrepreneur and philanthropist, and Gloria Walton at Black Climate Week 2023
The Solutions Project was founded with a deep understanding that the climate crisis is the most critical issue of our time. Solving it calls for more than urgency; it demands for an approach that is deeply rooted in equity and justice.
We know that the climate crisis disproportionately impacts Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, Pacific Islanders, and other communities of color, especially women. These same communities at the frontlines of the climate crisis possess the ideas, creativity, and solutions to address it.
Encouragingly, there are promising indicators of momentum. Despite a decline in charitable giving across the United States in 2022, climate philanthropy experienced growth in recent years. The Solutions Project grew too, recognizing that the climate crisis is not only a ‘threat multiplier’ but a 'creativity and solutions multiplier' as well.
Last year, we directed more resources to community-led solutions than ever before: allocating over $10M in grants to more than 127 grantee partners. Nearly 90% of these partners are led by Black and Indigenous people and communities of color, primarily located in the South and Coastal States. These investments supported our grantee partners in achieving unprecedented wins: halting the construction of billions of dollars worth of oil pipelines and the expansion of polluting industries, securing the protection of 600 million acres of federal land, and implementing climate solutions such as electric transportation and solar-powered affordable housing. These wins contributed to an estimated reduction of tens of millions in metric tons of CO2 emissions.
We also ramped up our work to support the national climate justice movement. In response to the needs of our grantee partners, we co-created three ecosystems funds, including Communicating Our Power. This initiative supported 20 Black, Indigenous, and People of Color-led grassroots organizations across 16 states in building their strategic communications capacity and narrative power; these organizations saw an astounding 67% increase in press coverage in the first year. Our focus on culture change expanded as well. We brought climate justice to the world’s largest tech summit and earned recognition from major news institutions such as Bloomberg and TIME, and won multiple awards, including two Anthem Awards and a Telly Award. Simultaneously, we deepened our commitment to supporting grantee partners' efforts in planning for and mitigating climate-induced disasters. As a result, we were awarded the title of Honorable Community Partner of the year by Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation, which reflects our dedication to listening, building trust, and being in solidarity with the grassroots communities.
While we celebrate this momentum, there is so much more still to do. While the growth in climate philanthropy is cause for optimism, it still only accounts for 1 to 1.5% of total philanthropic giving, with less than 4% of it directed towards climate justice organizations, particularly those led by people of color and women.
Now, more than ever, is the time for all of us to double down our support for the grassroots. As this report unequivocally demonstrates, climate justice solutions deliver! And our grantee partners are leading the way in showing what is possible when they are resourced. The Solutions Project will continue to lead the way in being in deep relationship with the grassroots and building the foundation for Solidarity Philanthropy. And you best believe we will collaborate with and demand more from philanthropy and governments to ensure their sustainability and equity commitments align with the investments required in frontline communities to achieve lasting, transformational change.
Together, we can and must do more. Join us in fueling the creative solutions necessary to combat climate change and create a more equitable and regenerative world.
President + CEO
How The Solutions Project and Our Partners Get Results
Community-led climate justice organizations develop and implement solutions that accelerate an equitable transition to a clean energy economy.
The Solutions Project bridges the gap between philanthropy and the grassroots by providing multi-year general operating grants, funds for innovation, and responsive grants in situations like climate disasters. We get resources where they are most needed and in a way that builds accountability and trust.
We quickly grow the reach and visibility of our grantee partners and their solutions by collaborating with influencers and media platforms. We utilize digital storytelling to popularize climate justice solutions and co-create long-term strategies that shift narratives and culture.
When frontline communities have more resources, influential partners, and access to platforms that amplify their ideas, they are able to build and scale climate justice solutions that create a more equitable world.
Nationwide, Frontline Organizations Delivered Big Impact
Acres of Land Stewarded
Public Grants Won
People Protected from Pollution
Federal Funds for Equity
Higher Voter Turnout
Grantee Partners Scaled Up
Bringing Manufacturing Jobs Back to the U.S. With Frontline-Innovations in the Wind Industry
Community Investment in Wind Energy Will:
- Create 5,000 jobs.
- Power 1.3 million homes in New York.
- Build stronger climate adaptation, mitigation, and resilience.
What They’re Working On
UPROSE continues to win public and private investments for community-determined economic development centered on manufacturing wind energy. After years of organizing, UPROSE’s vision of transforming the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal, an industrial waterfront, into a hub for offshore wind turbines is coming true.
Elizabeth Yeampierre speaking at a press conference.
This community vision of taking the industrial waterfront to start building for climate adaptation, mitigation, and resilience is not new. These are victories that don’t happen overnight.
- Elizabeth Yeampierre, Executive Director, UPROSE
Building Resilient Communities and Demanding Equity in Disaster Recovery
Building Resilence and Equity By:
- Establishing four hub houses that serve as climate response centers.
- Equipping 10 houses in NE Houston with solar power generation systems.
- Developing a drainage assessment tool that communities can use to generate evidence that governments are not providing adequate protection.
- Having research and legal cases in process to stand against racist practices around HUD and state recovery spending.
What They’re Working On:
- In Houston, West Street Recovery is growing their efforts to build communities' abilities to care and respond after storms, as well as advocate for equitable drainage management and post-disaster relief efforts.
ABC13 Eyewitness News
West Street Recovery at a 5th anniversary of Hurricane Harvey event in Houston
As flooding becomes more common with climate change we hope the tool and the lessons we learn help protect NE Houston and other communities like it across the country.
- West Street Recovery
Installed the first Community Solar System in Puerto Rico
Building Energy Resilience By:
- Powering 400+ homes and businesses, including nearly 20% of fire stations.
- Leading more than 250 solar projects and donating 14,000 solar lamps.
- Aiming to provide Puerto Rico with 100% clean energy by 2050.
What They’re Working On:
- After Hurricane Maria, Casa Pueblo installed community solar systems throughout the island as part of larger energy democracy and equity in disaster resilience. When Hurricane Fiona hit in 2022, they were then able to provide much needed energy.
Casa Pueblo team visits the Urban Solar Forest
Puerto Rico is understanding that we don’t have to wait for anyone to move forward. We must start in our home to then tackle great challenges.
- Rebecca Rodríguez Banch, Casa Pueblo's liaison with the communities of Adjuntas
Environmental Justice Training and Sustainability
What They’re Working On:
- Creating green jobs & business opportunities.
- Cultivating community gardens to provide healthy produce and tackle food insecurity, including the creation of hydropanel systems that provide irrigation for the garden.
- Coming soon: an aquaponic system, a hydroponic system, and solar energy to power property.
About New Alpha
- New Alpha is opening the South’s first environmental justice training center in Britton’s Neck, South Carolina, a historic community dealing with flooding and water-quality problems from increasingly frequent severe weather. The 7.5-acre center features a greenhouse and hydropanels – solar panels that make clean water from sunlight and air – to irrigate the property.
New Alpha Community Development Corp
Hydropanels at New Alpha Community Development Corporation’s new environmental justice training center.
Frontline Leadership and Global Solidarity
What They’re Working On:
- Building on the legacy of the Gulf Coast Center for Law and Policy, the organization relaunched as Taproot Earth "a new international organization emerging to be an anchor for climate justice.
- Centering care, community, and abundance in their narrative in online and offline spaces.
- Their #WeChooseNow Climate Action Strategy provides frontline communities a way to connect the dots between regional economies, climate policies, and bottom-up solutions.
- Building branches from the southern U.S. to around the globe, all led by frontline organizations.
“We are in a moment of survival, and we must talk to the people who have survived. This is our Indigenous leaders, this is our Black leaders. These are absolutely people who have been thrown the worst and are still here and are still fighting, and are still fighting based on love.”
– Colette Pinchon Battle, Vision & Initiatives Partner
Organized Workers to Fight for Heat Protection
What They’re Working On:
- Organizing 200+ workers in Miami-Dade County as part of their ¡Qué Calor! campaign to demand life-saving protections: water, shade, and rest.
- Their strategies include worksite and neighborhood outreach, listening sessions, campaign strategy meetings, health and safety workshops, radio education, leadership and civic engagement training, and policy advocacy.
WeCount! launched ¡Qué Calor!, a worker-led campaign to win protections for outdoor workers in South Florida
We meet workers who tell us that their bosses don’t give them even 10- or 15-minute breaks. They know it’s inhumane to work under those conditions, but they have to pay their bills.- José Delgado
Communities Survive Climate Disasters and Rebuild to Thrive
Frontline Organizations in Action
- Asian Pacific Environmental Network is creating resilience hubs and informing state and federal policy to invest in frontline community infrastructure when disasters strike.
- The Mississippi Rapid Response Coalition calls on the Department of Justice and Environmental Protection Agency to build safe, clean, and secure water infrastructure to mitigate the consequences of racist disinvestments in public works that left Black residents without water.
- Comité Dialogo Ambiental, in coalition, sued FEMA and U.S. Department of Homeland Security over their plans to rebuild Puerto Rico’s centralized electric grid back to the fossil fuel status quo instead of investing in renewable energy that keeps the lights on through hurricanes.
- UFW Foundation secured a historic $655 million pandemic relief allocation through the USDA for farm and food workers negatively affected by the pandemic.
Building the Future They Want
- When climate disasters hit in California, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Puerto Rico, and Florida, frontline communities prepared and responded with mutual aid. In places frequented by fires, hurricanes, and infrastructure failures for the past five years, communities had rapid response communications, stable electricity, and basic needs like water and shelter secured. Together, frontline organizations are demanding government agencies not only adopt their innovations in disaster preparedness, but also create resilience hubs, and rebuild with renewable energy and other modern infrastructure for a more sustainable future.
This is a historic amount of money, and it presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us to try to break this vicious cycle of storms coming in and destroying our infrastructure. FEMA is supposed to be implementing resiliency. We can’t let the government just dole out this money and take us back to where we were before.
- Ruth Santiago
From Cancer Alley to Renaissance Parishes, Communities Demand Good Jobs
- The Descendants Project sued their local parish after officials tried rezoning a large residential area to industrial use in order to appease large polluting companies. They also have a "jobs that don’t stink" initiative focused on jobs that produce little to no pollution relative to employment.
- Rise St. James also saw a legal victory when a judge canceled the air permits for a $9.4 billion petrochemical plant.
- Public pressure, community-backed lawsuits and new federal leadership are making it happen.
Stopping Formosa Plastics has been a fight for our lives, and today David has toppled Goliath. The judge’s decision sends a message to polluters like Formosa that communities of color have a right to clean air, and we must not be sacrifice zones.
- Sharon Lavigne, founder and president of RISE St. James
Demanding, and Getting, More Control Over Electricity
Communities Taking Action
- Hoʻāhu Energy Cooperative Molokai (Hoʻāhu Energy) is working to reclaim the island’s energy sovereignty in a way that reflects native Hawaiian values and respect for the land.
- Native Renewables powered 20 Hopi and Navajo homes with electricity and repowered 3 homes with repairs and upgrades.
- Reclaim our Power acted against California’s political systems and PG&E — holding them accountable for damage they did with wildfires, wage hikes, shut-offs, and more.
- Catalyst Miami fought Florida Power & Light’s efforts to undermine state solar policies and are trying to stop a bill that would harshly limit rooftop solar.
What They’re Working On:
- There has been increased momentum of communities demanding more say and ownership over their electricity. From Hawaii to Buffalo to the Navajo Nation, people are coming together to create local solar projects that benefit those who most need it, and standing up to corrupt utilities that want to maintain outdated power practices and keep homes literally in the dark.
Zelalem Adefris, CEO of Catalyst Miami
The veto is a victory for every person who defended jobs and justice against Florida Power & Light’s attempted power grab. For years to come, solar panels peppered across rooftops in low-wealth neighborhoods will continue to help residents save money on their monthly power bills, build wealth for their families and future generations and improve local resilience after storms and shutoffs.
- Catalyst Miami
Grantees Scored Legislative Wins
Black Voters Matter Education Fund, Dream Defenders, and Native Organizers Alliance
Civic engagement programs connect voters to issues like climate justice.
- Turn-out among these voter demographics is widely credited with key climate victories around the country – from Arizona to Pennsylvania and many states in between
- Helped maintain a balance of power in Congress to successfully implement existing policy
UPROSE, PUSH Buffalo, NY Renews, The Point, NYC-EJA
After over two years in the making, the NYS Climate Action Council announced the completion and implementation of the Final Scoping Plan, which means no new gas stoves, no new gas furnaces, and no new gas water heaters.
- Reduces greenhouse gas emissions and co-pollutants in most impacted communities, leading to cleaner air and better health
- Increases the use of renewable energy and storage
Louisiana Bucket Brigade and Indigenous Environmental Network
Indigenous Environmental Network and Louisiana Bucket Brigade each led campaigns that stopped a side deal by Senator Joe Manchin to increase oil and gas production in Alaska, the Gulf Coast, Virginia, and West Virginia. However, the work to protect these areas continues.
- Stopped the production of gas where annual greenhouse gas emissions were equivalent to 35 coal-fired power plants.
- Halted further water contamination in vulnerable communities.
Asian Pacific Environmental Network and Communities for a Better Environment
Senate Bill 1137 bans new oil and gas wells within 3,200 feet of homes, schools, and hospitals and any other places people could be harmed by drilling operations. However the oil industry is trying to overturn the bill in a referendum.
- Protection for 2.7 million Californians, 70% are Black and Brown people
- Strengthened protections for people who live, work, and play near existing extraction sites
Native Organizers Alliance
Native Organizers Alliance’s campaign secured Indigenous authority in the oversight of 620 million acres of public land, which will restore and protect natural ecosystems, and recognize years of injustice.
- Indigenous communities can better cope with climate change, navigate limited water resources, and build sustainable food production.
- Opportunity to reduce the deforestation rate
STAND-L.A., SCOPE, CBE
L.A. City Council voted unanimously to adopt the final ordinance to prohibit new oil and gas drilling and phase out all existing drilling throughout the entire city. This monumental victory was 10 years in the making and many council members credit STAND LA for the ordinance.
- Protects more than 500,000 residents who live close to active oil wells
Our 2022 Grantmaking Stats
Where Grants Went
Independent and Collaborative Funds Administered by The Solutions Project
A two-year narrative communications fellowship program created in partnership with Climate Justice Alliance and Center for Story-based Strategy.
About the Fund
Communicating Our Power is designed to grow the capacity and influence of grassroots climate justice organizations. The initiative is a response to funding disparities for underrepresented communities working on the frontline. Through a $10 million pilot program, Climate Justice Alliance, Center for Story-based Strategy, and The Solutions Project partnered to support 20 Black, Indigenous, People of Color-led, frontline climate justice organizations across 16 states with hiring their first communications staff, integrating a strategic communications function, and developing media influence.
What We Supported
With a two-year, $200k grant, each organization hired staff to build a robust communications strategy, learn how to tell their stories, and to obtain media coverage on the climate crisis — and their solutions — within their communities.
In 2022, The Solutions Project supported cohort organizations with hiring communications staff and providing ongoing mentorship. We also delivered toolkits and a training series focused on practical applications of narrative strategies aligned with the Just Transitions framework.
Communicating Our Power grew cohort members’ organizational capacity to effectively communicate their missions, successes, and calls to action with greater visibility and impact.
Our vision is to turn Communicating Our Power into a permanent program, so that every climate justice organization that wants to participate can do so.
A year-long cohort program led in partnership with Elevate and Partnership for Southern Equity to support grassroots groups pursuing public funding for the first time.
A new frontline-governed fund for grassroots climate justice solutions supported in partnership with Climate Justice Alliance.
Frontline leaders asked The Solutions Project to help co-develop three innovative funds in 2021. These independent Ecosystem Funds distributed an additional $5M in grassroots grants in 2022, which we administered. The Justice40 Accelerator, Fund for Frontline Power, and Communicating Our Power each offer innovation support for the climate justice movement in respective areas of public funding, grassroots governance, and narrative communications.
Intermediary Funding Moves More Than Just Money
We increased the flow of dollars to grassroots organizations by removing barriers and responding to a wider array of grantee needs.
We provided over $2.35 million in proactive grants for community resilience in the face of climate disaster. We also offered solar and water kits, and media rapid response support after disasters occurred.
Our “Summer of Wellness” program offered connections with artists and healers, enabling grantee staff and leadership to prioritize their health. More than 100 grantees participated. Additionally, we offered leadership and staff wellness grants upon request.
The Solutions Project serves as a movement accountable intermediary, bridging the gap between big donors and the frontlines while maintaining accountability to grassroots groups and alliances.
Beyond facilitating funding, we address grantees’ needs, support innovation, and develop shared initiatives that build capacity to support social movements. With a commitment to building trust within communities and cultural sensitivity, we are able to respond and move a wide range of capital quickly. Movement accountable intermediaries can address the challenge of major funders wanting to contribute to social change outside their expertise or life experience.
Building Influence Online and in the Media
We spotlight climate justice solutions through digital communications and earned media.
Media Views for Our Grantees + the Climate Justice Movement
Increase in Press Hits + Social Media Mentions of our Grantees
Most viewed Video on the Internet: Earth Day
Grantee Partners in the Media
We provide direct and thorough digital and communications support for 50 grantee partners, and amplification for dozens more. We widened our range of offerings this year to include graphic design, video production, social media training, public relations assistance, and much more. Here is a selection of media coverage we supported.
Celebrity and Influencer Amplification
Media, culture, and storytelling are tools that transform what we imagine is possible for our communities and our planet. Our celebrity partners support us in showcasing stories of success from The Solutions Project and our grantee partners.
TIME 100 Talks
Actor and The Solutions Project board member, Don Cheadle, in conversation with our grantee partner Colette Pichon Battle of Taproot on climate justice at TIME100 talks
Actress Regina Hall and Sarah Shanley Hope, The Solutions Project's Managing Director, Narrative Strategies bring community-led solutions to RE:WIRED Green
What is a Just Transition?
Created in partnership with Canary Media and UPROSE, Mark Ruffalo provided the voiceover for a video explaining what a Just Transition means.
CEO Gloria Walton attends EMA Awards with Ronen Rubinstein, supporter of The Solutions Project
Shawn Mendes Foundation
Shawn Mendes Foundation shined light on our grantee partners, Institute for Climate & Peace and Taproot Earth for their work at COP27
Tracking Solutions Narrative Trends
Through independent, commissioned research we monitor how the media covers climate solutions across energy, land-use, and water — paying specific attention to gender, equity, and communities of color. The latest report showcases how efforts to shift coverage to be more diverse, solutions-oriented, and justice-focused are on track.
We are in a pivotal moment where digital media is taking activism to a new level, newsrooms are building climate teams, and audiences are demanding climate stories in films and entertainment.
Not just any stories - stories that are focused on solutions to the climate crisis, narratives that give us hope and allow us to reimagine a world that’s more equitable and sustainable."- Gloria Walton
Increase in renewable energy articles that quoted women.
Articles that mentioned communities of color were more likely to focus on solutions.
Articles that mention issues of equity and justice:
Our results show that it's time for philanthropy to go all in on climate justice.
The Inflation Reduction Act, after decades of community organizing for large-scale public investments in green infrastructure, passed in 2022. The federal government is injecting new funding and momentum into a green transition. With our Justice40 Accelerator partners, we work to ensure that the 40% of federal climate and clean energy investments promised by the White House will benefit frontline communities. Because frontline communities know best what their communities need.
2022 made something clear: with the climate crisis causing widespread damages, the work of community-based organizations is crucial. If given resources and respect, they can make great strides to protect people today and ensure a better future. It can feel overwhelming. But remember, we have solutions.
Now is the time to invest in what’s already working in communities solving the crisis with a commitment to justice, healing, and regeneration.