emPOWERing Environmental Justice in Los Angeles

by raymond on March 29, 2021

Los Angeles is at the heart of a changing environmental future. Environmental justice and equity are at the center of this future: righting past wrongs and supporting communities committed to equal access to the benefits of a better environment. 

Get emPOWERed!

For Liberty Hill, environmental justice is a cornerstone of social justice. However, many residents in low-income and working class communities of color have traditionally been left behind by innovations in clean energy and solar power, which could mean a lack of access to readily available savings and important community health improvements.

Since the inception of the environmental justice movement in Los Angeles, Liberty Hill's emPOWER program has been connecting low-income residents to money and energy saving programs - including ratepayer incentives, energy efficiency upgrades, solar and clean vehicle rebates, and much more!

In 2020, the emPOWER program was able to provide 1,795 household consultations for low-income families to access rebates and subsidies for environmentally-safe and healthy utilities and technology. Like many organizations, Liberty Hill’s community partners had to pivot due to the global pandemic. With in-person events and home visits no longer possible, the traditional outreach strategies were shifted to focus on virtual events, phone banking, digital outreach, and social media engagement.  

Related: Read UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation report on emPOWER

In February 2021, the outREACH Bill (AB 976) was introduced by Assemblywomen Luz Rivas. It takes Liberty Hill’s emPOWER model and plans to expand it statewide. This legislation would create one process to qualify a household for as many incentive programs as possible, maximizing the economic benefits households receive.  The bill requests funding for the following:

  1. Community-based organizations to conduct outreach to disadvantaged communities 
  2. Increase participation in local and state programs by streamlining benefits that put our most in need communities at the forefront of meeting the state’s environmental and climate goals. 
  3. Advance important environmental justice and public health concerns.

This summer, the outREACH bill will be referred to the Senate floor. As this occurs, Liberty Hill will be activating donor activists, community partners, and supporters to send a letter to Senate members highlighting the importance of this program and encouraging members to pass this bill. Stay tuned for next steps!


Environment + Justice Donor Circle

Get Involved: Join the Environment + Justice Donor Circle

The Liberty Hill Foundation has been a key supporter of the environmental justice movement for years. The Liberty Hill Environment + Justice Donor Circle brings together a lively community of donor-activists interested in the intersection of the environment and social and economic justice. The circle provides a way for donors to learn about and invest in the leaders and organizations creating a better future here in L.A. The circle also discovers and brings new ideas, strategies, and emerging leaders to Liberty Hill’s attention for broader and deeper investments in what comes next for building power for healthy environment and communities.

The goal is to create a learning community among progressive donors interested in environmental justice in Los Angeles, as well as a rich participatory philanthropic experience for those who want it, while funding meaningful social justice environmental organizations. 

  • Each year, the Liberty Hill Environment + Justice Donor Circle will pick a theme around which to build or knowledge in this learning community.
  • The Environment + Justice Donor Circle meets quarterly.
    • Two of our quarterly events are educational conversations between community-based organizers, leaders, experts, and donors on the history and present-day movements at the intersection of the environment and justice. 
    • One of these events includes a visit to frontline communities to learn from organizers and leaders and see firsthand the effects of environmental injustices as well as the impact of funding changemakers. 
    • In our fourth quarterly event, we recognize the organizations that we’ve supported during the year and celebrate with their leaders 
  • Environment + Justice Donor Circle learning events are open to all Liberty Hill Foundation donors who give to organizations at the intersection of the environment and justice at any level, whether through donations to Liberty Hill or through their donor advised funds. 
  • Contributors to the Environment + Justice Donor Circle Fund at the $1,000 and above level for adults and $250 for “next gen” youth can also participate in an annual process of grantmaking from the fund. 
    • Contributors nominate grantees. 
    • A nominating committee vets the nominees and presents a slate to contributors to the fund in our third quarterly event. The slate is informed by the year’s theme but may also include organizations working on other important and timely issues. 
    • Contributors to the circle’s fund vote on the grantees. All grantees on the slate receive some funding, with substantial grants going to those with the most support. 

The Liberty Hill Environment + Justice Donor Circle is a community, a circle of friends, bringing passion and energy to the vision of an environmentally just future in this great metropolis, and supporting Liberty Hill’s crucial, strategic role in making that future real by building power in the organizations, communities, leaders, and projects that we fund. 

To join the Environment + Justice Donor Circle, please contact svaill@libertyhill.org or 323-556-7203.
 

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