Funding The Fight Against Climate Change


The Denver Foundation
April 20, 2021

Thursday, April 22 marks the 41st Earth Day. Earlier this week, USA Today quoted Kathleen Rogers, president of EarthDay.org, in reminding us that, “at the heart of Earth Day’s 2021 theme, Restore Our Earth, is optimism – a critically needed sentiment in a world ravaged by both climate change and the pandemic.”

At The Denver Foundation, we too hold that optimism at the forefront of two environmentally focused funds stewarded by our Engaged Philanthropy team. The Environmental Affinity Group (EAG) is a network of informed, engaged, and effective environmental philanthropists focused on local and regional efforts to address climate change and its effects, with a particular emphasis on BIPOC communities. The new Climate Equity Fund was created by donor John Loewy and his family to support innovative local projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions while meeting the needs of communities most impacted by climate change. John is a founding member of the EAG and currently serves as Chair of the Foundation’s Board of Trustees. 

The Environmental Affinity Group

The EAG places a focus on environmental and conservation organizations using an inclusive approach to support communities, reach new audiences, and encourage action on climate change. EAG members have the opportunity to give together through collective grantmaking, learn together through site visits and quarterly educational events, and grow effective environmental philanthropy by lifting up organizations doing strong work.

In February, the EAG held one of their quarterly learning events, a virtual panel on Colorado’s climate and energy policy landscape featuring leaders who work at the state and federal level. 

The EAG’s annual grantmaking process allows members to learn and practice how collective giving can have a deep impact. Members review proposals, participate in site visits, and collectively determine how their pooled funds are distributed. This direct engagement with the nonprofits themselves also informs the members’ individual philanthropy. To date, the EAG has granted over $180,000 to organizations in the seven-county metro area. The group’s currently accepting applications for their 2021 grant cycle. 

The Environmental Affinity Group Endowment Fund is a component of the EAG’s strategy for long-term change. The purpose of this permanent endowment is to ensure the Foundation’s perpetual support for environmental and conservation causes in Colorado.

In the words of founding member Peter Kirsch, “We do not deceive ourselves that the Environmental Affinity Group’s grantmaking will, standing alone, bring about systemic change. But we are hopeful that it will introduce donor-advised fundholders to new organizations and open their eyes to the importance of funding local, grassroots, hands-on work to address climate change among the most vulnerable in our own community.”

The Climate Equity Fund

The Climate Equity Fund deploys resources to nonprofit organizations that are addressing climate change with an emphasis on equity. Organizations supported by the Climate Equity Fund have articulated how their programmatic work reduces carbon emissions in a measurable way, how it supports and collaborates with individuals, communities, and neighborhoods in efforts to reduce climate change and improve community well-being through innovative action.

In its first year, the Climate Equity Fund awarded a total of $100,000 to four Metro Denver organizations addressing climate change and carbon emissions through projects focused on transportation, climate resiliency, food-waste reduction, and solar energy system installation and job training. The Climate Equity Fund is currently accepting applications for its 2021 grant cycle. 

For a glimpse into the impact the Climate Equity Fund has made thus far, check out this testimonial from Majok Ater, a participant in GRID Alternatives PV installation job training program, one of last year’s Climate Equity Fund grantees.

As the Climate Equity Fund enters its second-ever application cycle, the fund’s committee members are looking forward to a new slate of proposals offering innovative and equity-focused solutions to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in communities disproportionately impacted by climate change. 

If you are interested in learning more about or joining the Environmental Affinity Group, please contact Brandon Baird at bbaird@denverfoundation.org. If you are interested in applying for funding from the EAG, please review these application guidelines. Applications are due Monday, June 14.

If you have questions about the Climate Equity Fund, please contact Julie Voyles at jvoyles@denverfoundation.org. If you are interested in applying for funding from the Climate Equity Fund, please review these application guidelines. Applications are due Friday, May 14.