Since its implementation by the earliest adopters, green infrastructure has garnered significant attention and support from the philanthropic community. From demonstration projects to neighborhood improvement initiatives to shining a spotlight on community groups and equity, philanthropic funding has helped build a foundation of projects from which we can continue to build to scale. As we move from projects to programs and funding to financing, there are many strategic opportunities for the philanthropic community to engage and impact the public sector and to continue to fuel the process of mainstreaming this work. While we acknowledge that the philanthropic community is a broad categorization of diverse organizations, and that it engages in both funding and financing, the recommendations below align with the necessary shifts outlined in the blueprint above and are meant to spark further conversation about the role of philanthropy in getting green to scale.
Accessories → Assets
Municipalities are aware of the power of public demand but frequently cite a lack of resources and capacity for effective community engagement. There is a major opportunity for NGOs to work with municipalities to help deliver a strong, unified message about green infrastructure and for philanthropies to bolster this capacity within municipalities. Community engagement is a primary need that municipalities have little to no capacity around and is comparatively easy to fund.
Consultants to educate and align on shared language and meaning
Community engagement training and delivery
General civic engagement programming
Green infrastructure education, mentorship programs, curriculum development, scholarships
Consultants to partner with cities on developing and disseminating values-based messaging
Go to Accessories → Assets to learn more about this shift.
Champions → systems
Grants as “carrots” in the behavior change paradigm that can incentivize and reward innovation in ways that government currently can’t, i.e. awards for cities that adopt natural capital policies, have green requirements in their engineering RFPS, etc.
Temporary staff/consultants to foster collaboration and assist with desiloing
Programs to connect practitioners - especially engineers and finance - from cities that have had success to those in cities just starting out. (A program like GI Exchange only focused on communities outside the fold.)
Funding for higher risk “living labs” (versus typical pilots and demos) with clearly defined KPI and BMP metrics as deliverables that will in form a larger program
EXAMPLE: The City of Seattle employed a temporary, grant-funded position to facilitate project collaboration between Seattle Public Utilities and Seattle Department of Transportation. A similar position in the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power was also funded by a philanthropic grant.
Go to Champions → Systems to learn more about this shift.
Projects → portfolios
Life cycle analyses of existing GI assets for better long-term planning
Consultants to facilitate organizational change
Outside support to help conduct code and accounting reviews and address transactional challenges
EXAMPLE: Having spent a decade on grant-funded work alongside municipalities and directly with the Government Accounting Standards Bureau to implement a 2018 rule clarification about debt-financing green and distributed infrastructure, Earth Economics is now working under multiple grants to help utilities implement the standard.
Go to Projects → Portfolios to learn more about this shift.
Service-Delivery Targets →
Provide impartial conveners/arbiters
Consultants/staff positions to assist with desiloing and the integration of agency mandates
Support organizations that are facilitating regional data collection and knowledge-sharing
Support organizations that facilitate district-scale coalition building around GI as a shared goal
EXAMPLE: Improving the health of the Chesapeake Bay and region at-large has long been a critical goal for states within the bay’s watershed. Chesapeake Conservancy is a non-profit focused on enhancing watershed-wide conservation and restoration efforts through new technology. Working across state and agency boundaries, Chesapeake Conservancy’s data products and tools can be leveraged at a range of decision making scales. Their approach to large-scale, high-resolution mapping benefits both individual municipalities as well as larger inter-state efforts requiring consistent data coverage. Relying on technical expertise from the organization, partners throughout the watershed can access publicly available tools and data at the scale necessary to make effective decisions for green infrastructure goals.
Go to Service-Delivery Targets → Community Outcomes to learn more about this shift.
Funding → Financing
Assist in the review and evaluation of options and the identification of potential partners/investors
EXAMPLE: The Kresge Foundation partnership with Greenprint Partners is an innovative approach to strategic philanthropy that meets multiple imperatives. By investing in early-stage capacity building and program development for a private firm that partners with municipalities to aggregate public assets in blighted neighborhoods, the partnership serves as a cutting-edge model for crosssector finance and collaboration. It also aims to leverage scale for both acquisition of capital, but to actively put equity front and center, as under-resourced communities are empowered to access new opportunities by pooling resources as part of a larger effort.
Go to Funding → Financing to learn more about this shift.
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© Earth Economics 2018