Across the world, frontline and marginalized communities continue to feel outsized and disproportionate impacts from a changing climate. Despite this, funding for environmental and climate justice groups is slowing down, especially for BIPOC-led organizations and organizations that support marginalized communities.

Since 2022, Carbon180 has been working on a regranting program to ensure funding reaches community-based environmental justice organizations interested in learning more about carbon removal. Now, two years into this work, we are ready to launch our second cohort alongside a revamped curriculum and improved framework. 

Our inaugural program

We understand from conversations with EJ advocates, our recent cohort alumni, and field analyses that strategic funding can help bring more voices into the carbon removal space; it can allow for a more community-centered approach to scaling CDR and support opportunities for communities to take and demonstrate their own power. 

Our first regranting cohort was announced in April of 2022. At that time, our program had three goals: 

  1. Commit to two-year grants that support general operations and carbon removal work, including internal knowledge building, community engagement, and policy development.
  2. Support organizations in establishing their own informed opinions on carbon removal and how it aligns, or does not align, with their missions and vision via a robust carbon removal curriculum. Grantees do not have to agree with C180’s stances on CDR; it is critical to the program that each organization constructs its own informed stance that is best for its community.
  3. Support EJ advocates and communities in learning about carbon removal in order to shape the projects, policies, and processes they see showing up near their homes.

The first cohort of grantees included Air Alliance Houston, Appalachian Voices, and Young, Gifted and Green (formerly Black Millennials for Flint). They hailed from three different parts of the US and were dealing with very different realities. From monitoring air pollution and hazardous facilities to exploring land-based carbon removal solutions in urban and rural spaces, including how aforestation and reforestation strategies affect local carbon economies, each organization made strides toward investigating what role, if any, carbon removal could have in their neighborhoods. We are honored that each organization completed the CDR curriculum, launched CDR projects based on their community’s needs, and partnered with C180 to increase community understanding of CDR.

Announcing the second cohort

Equipped with successes and learnings from our first regranting cohort, we’re excited to announce the program will continue for a second tranche of organizations. Building on takeaways from the last two years, our hope is that this iteration of the program will be even more impactful. 

With the inaugural cohort, we focused on funding organizations that were interested in learning about CDR, what role carbon removal could play, if any, in their communities, and what community-driven carbon removal projects could look like. The same holds true for this new cohort, but the implementation will look different. In this round, organizations proposed carbon removal projects related to building regionally-focused community-based CDR toolkits, exploring what high-quality monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) and community validation models can look like, and creating and evaluating analysis tools and procedures for responding to CDR projects. As a result of these project proposals, this round will see community-driven carbon removal projects designed and implemented alongside the curriculum, not following its completion. 

After a long search and many conversations, we are thrilled that Restore the Delta, Until Justice Data Partners, Inc, and Vessel Project of Louisiana have decided to move forward on this journey with us.  

A new lens on regranting and curriculum building

In order to more fully meet the bold visioning of each organization, we are continuing to build toward an explicit trust-based, solidarity-over-charity granting model. Community grant giving is newer to C180, and we are continuing to learn about the grant-making legacies we are stepping into as we engage with this work more deeply. Our goal is to disrupt much of the vertical power hoarding that charitable forms of granting reaffirm, shifting our practices to be more participatory, collective, imaginative, accountable, and ultimately, meaningful. 

By giving more general support funding, creating opportunities for each grantee to see each other’s home region, establishing co-created reporting structures, and democratizing our accountability processes, we’re aiming to mobilize resources and shift agency toward communities and our grantee partners. Center to our vision for transformative grant-making is community autonomy and collective power. While we acknowledge that we work within the confines of a regranting structure, we are committed to demonstrating solidarity funding as core to our regranting strategy. Solidarity funding is perhaps the closest to mutual aid that a granting institution can move toward with the goal of challenging the charity model of granting and funding. This strategy prioritizes cooperation over competition, invests in grantee organizations mobilizing their efforts, and prioritizes addressing the root causes of the inequities we see in the world today.

We will carry these values through the curriculum building and delivery process. A key part of our regranting initiative is the curriculum that the cohort both informs and participates in. It is full of carbon removal 101 modules that focus on topics like direct air capture, the difference between carbon removal and carbon storage, and relevant policies. This updated version of the curriculum will continue to feature information on tech and land-based carbon removal, but will also include soft skills sessions on topics like linguistic and disability justice, technical conversations about carbon removal implementation, and tailored explorations of local issues relevant to grantees. 

What lies ahead

Our hope is that this regranting initiative can be a piece of a larger, field-wide effort to ensure that local communities have the opportunity to form their own opinions about CDR and are meaningfully engaged as carbon removal scales. The $3.5 billion DAC Hubs program is the most imminent opportunity to practice deeply rooted community engagement. Given the unique geographies of the second cohort, we will spend significant time focused on the Regional DAC Hubs program and support each EJ organization in confidently engaging with the project(s) awarded near their region. 

We’re looking forward to continuing this work, and eager for our first in-person meet up with grantees in May.

Edited by Emily Reich. Image by Andrew Welch.