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Our Approach

An Announcement about the Program:

In September 2019, McKnight announced an expansion of the program and this new goal: Take bold action on the climate crisis by dramatically cutting carbon pollution in the Midwest by 2030. McKnight will announce the revised program guidelines in fall 2020.

Until the new guidelines roll out, we continue grantmaking under our current guidelines. A reminder that we use a closed application process.

Given the urgency of reducing carbon emissions to slow climate change, and the magnitude of the problem, the program leverages its limited philanthropic funding by supporting efforts that address systemic and structural barriers to a clean energy transition. Our program directs grantmaking primarily toward key drivers of change, including: capital flows, utility motivation, growing consumer demand, applied research and analysis, institutional evolution, and champions for clean energy throughout the economy. Our program seeks to foster supportive policy and regulatory environments at state and local levels.

In keeping with the Foundation’s Strategic Framework, the program’s approach is grounded in continuous learning and adaptive action as the economic, political, and social context in which we operate continues to evolve. The program’s direct grantmaking is focused primarily in Minnesota and supports work throughout the Midwest through grantmaking partners.

Our Strategies
two people doing construction work

Clean power

Power the grid with more carbon-free energy sources. Electric power generation must rapidly switch to renewable, nuclear, and other emissions-free sources. In the long term, avoiding the worst impacts of climate change may require capturing and sequestering carbon from power generation or other sources and removing carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere.

a family standing next to an electric car

Electrify the economy

Transform sectors such as transportation to run on carbon-free electricity instead of fossil fuels. Electric load should be grown smartly: to increase grid flexibility, cost-effectiveness, and reliability, and to maximize the environmental benefits.

a sunset in a field

Optimize energy demand

Increase the efficiency of our built environment, transportation system, and electrical grid. While electrical demand may grow from end uses like transportation, maximizing efficiency in buildings, industrial processes, and in the delivery of energy will enable more rapid and cost-effective decarbonization.

Geographic Focus

The program’s direct grantmaking is focused primarily in Minnesota and supports work throughout the Midwest through grantmaking partners.

Drivers of Change

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