The Group of 10 respond

The big greens grade themselves

 

Sierra Club

Founded 1892
President Allison Chin; Michael Brune,
executive director
Staff More than 350
2008 Revenue $87,418,200
(does not include Sierra Club Foundation funds)

"The Sierra Club environmental justice program was kick-started by the (SWOP) letter," says former Executive Director Carl Pope, who served in that position from 1992 to January 2010. The Sierra Club hired its first environmental justice organizer in 1992, and the program has grown substantially since then. Now called Sierra Club Environmental Justice & Community Partnerships, the program has 12 organizers in communities including El Paso, Flagstaff, Minneapolis, Puerto Rico, Washington, D.C., Central Appalachia, Memphis and New Orleans. The program hires organizers from the local community and adheres to organizing principles posted at www.sierraclub.org/EJCP.

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Natural Resources Defense Council

Founded 1970
President Frances Beinecke
Staff More than 300
2008 Revenue $105,120,002

"Shortly after receiving the letter, NRDC's founder and president, John Adams, met with environmental justice leaders and attended the First National People of Color Summit in 1991," President Frances Beinecke says. NRDC felt the issues raised were legitimate, and the organization made a long-term commitment to both diversity and environmental justice. Ultimately, environmental justice was included in NRDC's mission statement, and staffers were hired to work with environmental justice communities.

In August 2006, the group's unprecedented work after Hurricane Katrina led Robert Bullard, considered by many as the father of the environmental justice movement, to describe it as a model of how mainstream groups can partner with EJ communities. Other examples of partnerships NRDC has made with EJ communities can be found at: http://www.nrdc.org/ej/partnerships/.

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Environmental Defense Fund

Founded 1967
President Fred Krupp
Staff More than 380
2008 Revenue $134,929,041

The 1990 letter was "galvanizing, important and timely," President Fred Krupp says. Even though the environmental community has made progress since then, he says, "We still have a long way to go to diversify our ranks and practices. Like all other enterprises, the environmental community must be held to a single standard: its actions."

Krupp, however, believes that SWOP's 1990 call to "stop operating" in communities of color "ignored the good working relationships EDF had and continues to have" in the regions in which it has offices.

"Nowhere do we ‘speak for' communities," Krupp says. "We partner with them and bring our expertise to goals established -- and pursued -- by those communities." Nationally, EDF's staff advisory committee has sponsored 29 EJ mini-grant projects since 2004.

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