News and Insights

What We Can Do About Environmental Philanthropy's White Privilege


Marcelo Bonta, Momentum Fellow | Environmental philanthropy has a big problem. It’s not our lack of racial diversity, especially at the executive and trustee level. It’s not the lack of funding directed towards organizations led by people of color. It’s not the lack of funding for diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, despite many foundations now talking about it. It’s not the lack of investment in established leaders of color and a professional pipeline for emerging leaders of color. It’s not the underfunding of general support and capacity-building. It’s not the assumption that people of color don’t care about the environment; it’s not the lack of acknowledgement that people of color support environmental issues at higher rates than whites. It’s not the hiring of average white men instead of overqualified people of color. All those are simply the byproducts of the big problem: white privilege. And until environmental philanthropy acknowledges and successfully addresses its white privilege, sadly, our planet will continue to suffer. more »

Earth Day and Beyond: Supporting Sustainability


Mitchell Thomashow, Catalyst Fellow | On the first Earth Day, in 1970, terms like biodiversity, climate change, green building, sustainability and dozens of others had not yet entered the public lexicon. Yet going back to the 19th century writings of Thoreau, American culture has contained a prevailing theme of sustainability: the idea of living within our means and living with respect for interconnected ecosystems. As we approach Earth Day 2016 — this Friday, April 22 — Northwest philanthropic institutions like The Bullitt Foundation are playing a major role in contributing to all aspects of this ethos, including conservation, policy and education. more »

How Sustainability Integrates Community, Place and Philanthropy


Mitchell Thomashow, Catalyst Fellow | If you visit just about any university in North America, you’ll notice an important dynamic: the idea of sustainability has taken root everywhere, from rural community colleges to large urban state universities, bringing diverse stakeholders together. From Oregon's Portland State University to the University of Montana, there are countless bold and innovative sustainability projects stimulating local investment. Across professional levels, political backgrounds and personal experiences, sustainability proponents unify around a common desire to build community on their campus, to respect it and recognize it as a special place that lends meaning to our lives. How can this approach advance our work at Philanthropy Northwest? more »

Introducing the Catalyst Fellows


Jeff Clarke, CEO | Poet William Blake wrote, "The true method of knowledge is experiment." Here at Philanthropy Northwest, we honor Blake and the countless others who have offered similar encouragement by taking initiative to conduct learning experiments. Our latest? The Catalyst Fellows, a place-based experiment in thought partnership and network learning. We’ve designed this program to begin and steward ongoing conversations about the important role that different types of capital, each integral to philanthropic strategy, play in creating and sustaining vibrant, equitable and inclusive communities. While there are many important forms of capital, we’ve chosen to begin this work by focusing on influence (advocacy), financial (impact investing) and natural (sustainability) capital. more »

MLK Day: A Time to Serve Our Communities


Erin Thomas, Talent Partner and Board Liaison | It’s a mid-January morning and there's frost on the ground. People from all over the city are huddling around the coffee and bagel tables, trying to get warm and fuel up for the day. You overhear murmurs of introductions, names and motivations for getting up so early on their day off: “I’m here with my kids and we wanted to do something as a family." "I’m volunteering with my office." "I believe in the message of Dr. King and I want to honor that today.” This is the scene I have experienced on the third Monday of January — Martin Luther King, Jr. Day — for almost a decade. Whether you're fighting racism and poverty or preserving nature and wildlife, the MLK Day of Service offers an opportunity to connect with each other and work together to support a healthy and vibrant community. With more than a hundred projects planned throughout the Northwest, thousands of volunteers will be honoring this remarkable man and his message. more »