Sierra Club equity goals move forward with Partnership Grants

Sierra Club Equity, Inclusion and Justice
Image credit: Sierra Club
Equity, Inclusion and Justice

The North Star Chapter has committed to being an intercultural, anti-racist organization. Our latest effort to live into that pledge is to offer our volunteer teams the opportunity to apply for Partnership Grants to build stronger relationships with communities of color.

Environmental work and anti-racism work are deeply connected. Communities with the least political power get stuck with the greatest environmental challenges.

The Prairie Island Dakota community has the burden of living right next door to Minnesota’s spent nuclear waste storage facility, not by choice but as the path of least political resistance. The Anishinaabe communities in Northern Minnesota would bear a disproportionate burden of the proposed Enbridge Line 3 crude oil pipeline. Residents of North Minneapolis live in more industrialized neighborhoods with less tree cover. They live near business, such as the recently shuttered Northern Metals Recycling facility that contribute to higher levels of air pollution and related health problems, such as asthma. The list goes on.

The Sierra Club aims to support local leaders and organizations working in these environmentally stressed areas to address the concerns that residents identify as priorities. That’s where the Partnership Grants come in.

All MN volunteer teams can apply for a partnership grant from $100 to $2,000 to build new relationships and to engage in new environmental issues. Here is the partnership grant application. The Sierra Club has been developing a list of potential community partners. (Check with Mary Blitzer or Charles Frempong-Longdon for the list of possible partners for your issue area.)

Partnership Grant proposals will be reviewed monthly on a rolling basis on the first of the month. Volunteers will be notified of acceptance or rejection of their project proposal on the 2nd Tuesday of the month. The Chapter has set aside $5,000 for projects through June. 

Staff and volunteers from the Change & Equity Team are available to support this work. We could help your team think about potential partners and help facilitate some initial get-to-know-you conversations. Once the relationship progresses, we are available to help you think about projects. Your team could submit a grant to jointly host a movie night or an educational panel discussion, such as the Stop Line 3 Team did with the event Lessons Learned from Standing Rock. Being more ambitious, there could be opportunities for a joint campaign, for instance partnering with the Transit Riders Union to support a canvassing effort on a given transit funding proposal.

This won’t be easy work, but great things never are. Robin DiAngelo, author of White Fragility, put it bluntly: “The racial status quo is comfortable for white people and we will not move forward in race relations if we remain comfortable.”

Making mistakes and feeling uncomfortable in this work is not a sign of failure; it is a sign of growth.

We are all learning together and we welcome your questions and ideas.

Contact Mary at or Charles at