In our region, we rely on an energy-intensive economy that is responsible for per capita greenhouse gas emissions 22% higher than the national average, which contributes to poor air quality, persistent harm to the climate, and deepened disparities for marginalized communities vulnerable to fossil fuel extraction. Communities of color and low-income communities suffer vast disparities in environmental health in the region. We see clear examples of this in St. Louis as well as in other Midwestern cities like Chicago. The need for a robust environmental justice movement that can hold decision makers accountable while advocating for a just, resilient, and sustainable future for the region is evident.

While strong local leadership exists in cities like Chicago, Minneapolis and Detroit, environmental justice organizations often lack the funding and basic capacity to thrive and collaborate. Most climate and environmental justice work is underfunded, but frontline communities are particularly under-resourced as compared to large, white-led environmental organizations.

Francis pleads for “integral ecology” which “break[s] with the logic of violence, exploitation and selfishness” and promotes a “culture of care”.

Through stewardship, compassion, equity, and roots in our common home, we believe we can collaborate to build a better world. The Climate Justice Alliance’s Just Transition Framework is a helpful guide that informs our giving. We must transition into a fairer, more sustainable economy for everyone, not just the privileged few. In order to fully support a just transition, we must elevate minority, frontline leadership as we work in solidarity for a more just, sustainable future for our region.