Building the Bench for a More Diverse and Inclusive Climate Movement

Krystie Bullock
Akikita Taken Alive
Sira Thiam
Joshua Gomez
Christa Mancias
Pablo Mancias

For decades, we have known that the environmental movement has a critical diversity problem. This is in part due to lack of effort from organizations to recruit from BIPOC communities, unconscious bias in hiring, lack of intentional leadership development for BIPOC staff, and financial barriers stemming from generations of oppression that make unpaid internships nonviable. 

The funding for organizations who could shift this reality is shamefully low. Only 1.4% of philanthropic dollars go to Black-led organizations, 1.48% goes to Latinx-led organizations, and less than 0.6% of them go to Native American-led organizations. These statistics are for the overall field of philanthropy, not even focusing on the environmental space alone. The leadership and learning opportunities in these groups are immense, but the resources they receive don’t match the potential. 

The Equation Campaign is committed to filling critical gaps in funding for the climate movement, and a strong, deep, and talented “bench” of diverse climate leaders is a major gap. The Equation Campaign Fellows program is a low-lift, high-impact program that eases the burdens on organizations with the capacity, expertise, and energy to work with and train emerging BIPOC leaders in the climate space. This program provides funding for high impact organizations, predominately ones led by BIPOC, that are fighting the oil and gas industry to support a fellow for a designated amount of time. Fellows will gain experience, wisdom, and crucial connections while making a living wage that allows them to do so without sacrificing their economic wellbeing. 

We have three goals for the Fellows program:

  • Knowledge transfer of critical skills like finance campaigning, public speaking, direct action, community organizing from experts to young leaders
  • Developing the voice and leadership of young BIPOC climate justice activists
  • Deepening the bench and expertise from critical communities so they can lead the conversation on climate

2021 Fellows

Khrystle Bullock | Khrystle currently serves as the Hip Hop Caucus Think 100% Climate Justice Fellow and is a promoter of using research and storytelling to drive advocacy.

Akikita Taken Alive | Akikita (AK) will be working with Mazaska Talks, an indigenous-led organization with expertise in finance campaigning in the Pacific Northwest. AK will help organize youth participation on local divestment campaigns, support outreach, and learn about traditional plant medicine.

Sira Thiam | Sira will be a fellow at the Center for Protest Law and Litigation, a national hub for the defense of the right to protest. She will be deeply embedded in CPLL’s work to provide critical legal support and defense of frontline activists around the country, including their work at Line 3, environmental justice organizing in Texas, and police accountability.

Joshua Gomez | Joshua will also be a fellow at the Center for Protest Law and Litigation. Like Sira, he will be deeply embedded in CPLL’s work to provide critical legal support and defense of frontline activists around the country, including their work at Line 3, environmental justice organizing in Texas, and police accountability.

Christa Mancias | Christa will be a fellow with the Carrizo Comecrudo Tribe of Texas. She will provide research and monitoring of gas pipeline construction and violations of permitting and construction areas in regard to desecration of sacred sites, contamination of water sources, and lack of due diligence and due process. She’ll also help develop public awareness programs that recognize the traditional knowledge and expertise of the autochthonous people of Some Se’k.

Pablo Mancias | Pablo will also be a fellow with the Carrizo Comecrudo Tribe of Texas, working closely with Christa. He will provide research and monitoring of gas pipeline construction and violations of permitting and construction areas in regard to desecration of sacred sites, contamination of water sources, and lack of due diligence and due process. He’ll also help develop public awareness programs that recognize the traditional knowledge and expertise of the autochthonous people of Some Se’k.

“The mainstream environmental movement’s persistent lack of diversity and inclusion at its highest levels has been, for generations, a reflection of its network and its audience. Its lack of diverse leadership has been a core strategic disadvantage, undercutting both the professional opportunities for environmental professionals of color, and the ability of the movement to solve the most urgent crises of our time. People of color, who are most affected by these crises, deserve to lead and simply must in building the strategies and power to shape national and global policy.”

2019 Transparency Report from Green 2.0