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Our Approach

The Midwest Climate & Energy program uses its philanthropic funding to support efforts that build power through partnership, aligning climate and equity goals to advance bold action on the climate crisis.

Our program takes a systems change lens, focusing on shifting the conditions that perpetuate the climate crisis, which include structural racism. We direct grantmaking toward work that shifts mental models, changes power dynamics, engages communities, and advances transformative policies, practices, and resource flows, in order to dramatically cut carbon pollution in the Midwest by 2030.

In keeping with the Foundation’s Strategic Framework, the program’s approach is grounded in continuous learning, innovation, and adaptive action as the economic, political, and social context in which we operate continues to evolve.


Our Strategies

Transform the Energy System

We aim to ensure that the Midwest equitably transitions to an energy grid capable of powering an increasingly electrified society – a grid that’s powered by clean energy sources, accessible and affordable to ratepayers, and flexible and resilient to accommodate more clean power and withstand disruptive events.

Our grantmaking through this strategy will:

  • Engage the utility sector and related decision-making venues as a crucial lever for system transformation.
  • Amplify stories of the clean energy transition and combat mis- and disinformation.
  • Expand solutions that advance customer options for clean energy that is accessible, equitable, and affordable.
  • Elevate voices that are representative of the rich diversity of the Midwest.

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Decarbonize Transportation

We aim to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector in the Midwest through electrification and reducing driving (vehicle miles traveled, or “VMT”) by increasing the use of transit, biking, and other mobility options. We support the Midwest States leading in transportation infrastructure implementation that is equitable, and sustainable and ensures that everyone has access to clean, affordable, and accessible transportation mobility options.

Our grantmaking through this strategy will:

  • Support increased public sector investment in transit, active transportation modes, and other shared mobility options.
  • Support the equitable deployment and implementation of electrification infrastructure.
  • Elevate the engagement of diverse Midwest communities to advance transportation planning that prioritizes climate and equity and repairs historical harms resulting from discriminatory policies.

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Decarbonize Buildings

We aim to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the buildings sector in the Midwest, cutting energy usage, electrifying equipment and appliances, and resolving the energy insecurities and burdens of under-resourced households.

Our grantmaking through this strategy will:

  • Engage with the utility sector and related decision-making venues as a crucial lever for building decarbonization.
  • Raise the bar on building performance to incorporate increasingly electrified end-uses, promote health, safety, and comfort, and center the real needs of people.
  • Bridge across sectors and break down silos to fundamentally shift the paradigm for how buildings are built.
  • Scale innovation to advance real-world examples of carbon-free buildings in the Midwest.

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Support Working Lands

We aim to partner with the stewards of working lands to advance solutions that cut greenhouse gas emissions (carbon, methane, and nitrous oxide), sequester carbon, and build soil resiliency in the face of increasing climate disruptions, while centering the leadership of farmers and rural communities’ prosperity.

Our Grantmaking through this strategy will:

  • Promote the leadership of farmers and farmer-led organizations to advance climate solutions.
  • Build partnerships with public and private sectors to seed and scale farming practices that reduce emissions and sequester carbon.
  • Support organizing and advocacy infrastructure in the Midwest for an inclusive farming system with strong workers’ rights that honors Indigenous farming knowledge and has equitable opportunities for low-income, communities of color, and emerging farmers.

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Strengthen Democratic Participation

We aim to increase statewide infrastructure and capacity, engage diverse people in advancing our shared prosperity, and create platforms for broader participation in movements to realize vibrant, equitable, and climate-resilient communities.

Our grantmaking through this strategy will:

  • Bolster organizations, networks, and intermediaries working to engage and organize communities toward more powerful participation in civic life.
  • Ensure our democratic institutions and policymaking arenas are accessible and equipped to meet the challenge of the climate moment. ​

This is a shared goal with the Vibrant & Equitable Communities program.

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Geographic Focus

The program supports work in Minnesota and the upper Midwest directly and through grantmaking partners.

How to Apply

Learn more about eligibility requirements, selection criteria, and deadlines on our how to apply page.

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