McKnight to Join International Battle on Climate Change
March 19, 2009, Star Tribune — The McKnight Foundation is announcing today that it will spend an unprecedented $100 million over the next five years to attack global warming worldwide.
The state's largest private foundation, McKnight is joining forces with other large U.S. foundations, including the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, in pledging more than $1 billion to prevent climate change.
McKnight's President Kate Wolford said the highly coordinated strategy among foundations is unique, but that's what is needed.
She called climate change an "extraordinary challenge" that must be addressed within the next decade to prevent irrevocable harm to the planet. "Without immediate action, climate change will put at risk all those served by our programs," she said.
In 2008 the foundation provided $99 million from its $1.6 billion endowment for a variety of programs, including the arts, housing, children and families, sustainable agriculture and the environment. About 70 percent of McKnight grants in 2008 went to Minnesota organizations.
Wolford said the foundation will distribute the same amount of money in 2009. However, some programs will receive smaller grants because McKnight focuses $20 million annually on climate change. The change represents a dramatic "ramping up" internationally of programs originally developed in the Midwest, she said. The foundation is not seeking applications from those who might desire grants; it has committed most of the money to two foundations working on climate change policy and strategy.
About $5 million a year is going to the Energy Foundation, a grant-maker that has received McKnight money to develop renewable and sustainable energy policies in the Midwest that do not rely on coal and other fossil fuels.
Much of the rest will go to the new ClimateWorks Foundation, which has coalitions in several countries with the highest greenhouse gas emissions. ClimateWorks is a network of international philanthropists, policy and clean technology experts. Their goals are to stop building new sources of carbon emissions, to promote a carbon cap and trade system to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S., and to help establish an international system to reduce global warming gases.