For us, August 16th is a new holiday.
One year ago, President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA) into law and set us on course for a brighter future. It was a moment we had long waited for. After years of advocating for meaningful, equitable climate action, we finally had a historic opportunity to address our most pressing global challenge while uplifting communities most impacted by climate change.
The IRA marks a major milestone for the climate movement – $369 billion to invest in the future of our communities and our planet. With at least 40% of benefits directed toward disadvantaged communities, the bill holds enormous potential for bringing cleaner air and water to places that suffer from harmful pollution and creating economic benefits like lucrative green jobs and lower energy costs.
Last August, Dream.Org’s Green For All team began to focus on maximizing the $369 billion in climate funds for communities most impacted by poverty and pollution. Our goal is to ensure that at least 40% of IRA funding benefits disadvantaged communities and that 15% of federal climate contracts are awarded to minority-owned businesses.
Since then, we have worked at federal, state, and local levels to make that dream a reality:
- Leading the charge for climate equity on Capitol Hill and beyond
- Kept federal agencies focused on meeting equity goals through our new Climate Investments program, designing programs that increase community engagement, provide robust technical assistance, and promote economic inclusion to uplift disadvantaged communities and BIPOC entrepreneurs.
- Introduced legislation in Nevada, North Carolina, and Michigan, meeting with dozens of state legislators and partnering with local advocacy groups to advance our mission of creating community-centered climate projects.
- Championed equity-focused programs and robust community engagement programs at the federal level by developing responses to more than 15 official requests for Information from federal agencies, conducting research, soliciting stakeholder feedback, and developing leading recommendations for equity-focused government programs and robust community engagement practices.
- Shaped the creation of the national green bank network as part of the EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, with all of our recommendations around equity and community engagement integrated into the final structure of the program. This first-of-its-kind opportunity has the potential to catalyze an initial $27 billion government investment into more than $250 billion in public and private co-investment over the next 10 years.
- Pushed to equitably speed up the permitting process for building clean energy projects and meet the urgent demands of climate change, participating in a bipartisan coalition of more than two dozen organizations, hosting a constituent fly-in, meeting with 20 congressional offices, and building partnerships with organizations across the aisle.
- Kept the climate conversation centered on equitable distribution of IRA funding through Congressional testimony and more than 30 speaking engagements and public events.
- Empowering communities to shape solutions for a greener future
- Supported local governments and frontline communities by launching a new Transformative Communities program to empower 10 priority disadvantaged communities to access IRA funds
- Championed a “place-based” approach that amplifies community voices and maintains equity in decision-making through more than 140 conversations with local leaders, community organizations, and community development stakeholders.
- Alerted nearly 200 community-based organizations about more than 35 Inflation Reduction Act funding opportunities and helpful resources through our new monthly partner newsletter
- Helped six community-based organizations apply for federal funding opportunities and execute projects by providing much-needed technical assistance grants.
- Raised public awareness about the Inflation Reduction Act in 3 of our priority cities through our Live Green or Die Tryin’ marketing campaign, resulting in a 6,000% increase in website traffic during the peak of the campaign, with more than 30,000 unique individuals seeking more information about the IRA.
- Uplifting current and future leaders of the green economy
- Supported BIPOC entrepreneurs and job seekers to diversify the green economy and shape a more inclusive future. We’ve awarded fellowships to 9 BIPOC professionals and 326 scholarships to individuals looking to upskill in the green economy – and many of these recipients are justice-impacted.
- Made the future of climate innovation more inclusive by selecting and supporting 10 Black- and Latinx-owned climate startups with our Climate Tech Launchpad program, which provides intensive investor readiness training and milestone development in partnership with Village Capital.
In 10 years, we want to look back at the distribution of IRA investments and see an evolved America – a world where being a person of color doesn’t correlate with higher exposure to pollution, higher energy bills, and less generational wealth. We want to see Black and Brown faces leading green innovation, and for places and people that were once dismissed in sacrifice zones to become hubs of economic prosperity.
The $369 billion Inflation Reduction Act has the power to transform communities and build an inclusive green economy that’s strong enough to lift people out of poverty and pollution – if we are vigilant in making sure this money is spent the right way. That’s where you come in. Together, we are building a new climate movement that doesn’t just push Congress to pass legislation but takes a whole-of-government approach to maximize every federal climate dollar for the people and places who need it most.