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September 1, 2011

Dear friends—


The Environmental Support Center (ESC) was founded in 1990 by activists and funders to strengthen the ability of grassroots groups to be more effective advocates, organizers, strategists and managers. Since that time, more than 2,500 organizations have received our help, through $5.3 million in small grants, $1.6 million in equipment and technology, $822,000 in loans, and countless hours of technical assistance, advice and networking. Over the years, ESC produced or co-sponsored several influential publications and helped found key organizations, like the State Environmental Leadership Program and many members of the EarthShare workplace giving campaigns.

After more than two decades of service, the Environmental Support Center is closing this fall because of a lack of financial resources. Our physical office in Washington will be closed as of September 30. The worldwide recession, diminished or shifting funding trends (affecting capacity building, environmental work and grassroots organizing), and the challenge of raising dollars for a small national intermediary institution increasingly focused on working with the most under-resourced groups in the field, were all significant factors in the board’s recent vote to conclude the staff’s work at this time.

This was a very hard decision for us to make. For many small environmental groups, the Environmental Support Center was the only national funder they’ve ever had. Dozens of organizations across the Southeast and Southwest rely on ESC for IT equipment, training and support. Our Everybody’s Movement: Environmental Justice and Climate Change report inspired other organizations to brainstorm about how to move beyond superficial “diversity” and toward authentic alliances. The Fundraising for Sustainable Organizations program received rave reviews. Staff was excited about developing new organizational development tools and recently drafted a financial management primer for low-budget and all-volunteer groups.

As the nation, and the world, struggles to address interrelated issues of biodiversity, public health, consumption and climate change, environmental groups in communities of color and low-income communities are not receiving the core financial support or technical assistance they need to thrive. Communities of color and the environmental movement as a whole lacks the power needed to create a more just and sustainable future. Although a handful of institutions are intentionally working at the intersection of environmental, economic, social and racial justice issues, the movement needs more capacity-building resources and leadership to overcome the structural problems that lead to environmental injustice. Despite some admirable efforts, the broader environmental movement is still ill-equipped to work in alliance with the people most immediately affected by environmental problems.

All of ESC’s current grant commitments will be completed this fall. Any new monies raised at this time will be used to complete projects like an online environmental justice directory, a review of tools for environmental health and justice organizing, and Everybody’s Movement follow-up video and reports this fall.

Please direct inquiries to envirosupport AT hotmail DOT com, and Judy Hatcher will respond to you as soon as possible..


The Board of Directors of the Environmental Support Center

Yuki Kidokoro (Chair), Communities for a Better Environment

Dan Chu, National Wildlife Federation

Britt David, Consultant

ron e. davis, Consultant

Hazel James, Indigenous Community Enterprises

Anjali Kaul Zutshi, Consultant

Bill Kopsky, Arkansas Public Policy Panel

Lilian Molina, Energy Action Coalition

David Nicholson, Headwaters Fund for Justice

Bryan Parras, Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services

Denise Perry, Social Justice Leadership

Patrick Sweeney, Western Organization of Resource Councils

Eileen Jamison Tyrer, Unitarian Universalist Veatch Program at Shelter Rock

Affiliations for identification purposes only

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©2011 Environmental Support Center

updated October 10, 2011