Topic: Social Equity

A Personal and Organizational Mandate for a Just and Equitable Future

My 70-year-old mother recently told me about a friend of hers who started walking with a cane, not to steady her gait, but to fend off potential attackers. Though my mom isn’t quite ready to carry a would-be-weapon, she said she chooses her daily walking routes with more care these days. As an Asian American woman, anecdotes like these make me incredibly sad and angry. I immigrated to the United States when I was nine years old but consider myself an American. My English is far more fluent than my Korean, and during hot summer days, it’s burgers on the…

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Boreal Strategic Advisors

Boreal Strategic Advisors (BSA) was created in 2017 to provide strategic direction, campaign management, and fundraising support for the International Boreal Conservation Campaign (IBCC). The IBCC, launched in 2000, has been working to conserve and sustainably manage at least one billion acres of intact boreal forest in Canada by the end of 2022.  At the heart of this campaign is collaboration with and support for First Nations leading the effort to manage protected areas. Benefits of this work include: biological diversity, carbon sequestration, clean water and air, healthy communities, and sustainable economic development.


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Western Communications Hub

RLF established the Western Communications Hub in 2018, in partnership with the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, to strategically support conservation organizations across the West to develop communications capacities, messages, and tools that enhance the effectiveness of their programs and outcomes. Grantees help protect priority fish and wildlife corridors, advance conservation policy and funding, and build diverse coalitions protecting natural resources. The Western Communications Hub awards targeted grants that support community-driven organizations in honing their storytelling skills and raising their voices to reach historically marginalized groups, motivate people to act, and move levers of power.

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Transportation, Housing, and Land Use

Working at the intersection of transportation and land use policies the Transportation, Housing, and Land Use program seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, promote affordable housing and climate resilient communities, advance equity, and protect natural resources. 

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Parks Forward Implementation Initiative

In 2015, California’s Parks Forward Commission, with support from leading California philanthropies, set forth an ambitious ten-year vision for California parks. The Commission’s recommendations call for modernizing the California Department of Parks and Recreation to improve and diversify partnerships, provide access to all Californians, and ensure stable, diverse funding for parks. RLF collaborates with the Department, California Natural Resources Agency, and park partners to implement high priority Commission recommendations that deliver tangible outcomes in parks for all Californians.

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Montana Parks Program

RLF launched the Montana Parks Program (MPP) in 2018 to support Montana’s Parks in Focus Initiative, an effort modeled after California’s Parks Forward Initiative, aimed at addressing the ailing Montana state parks system. Through MPP, RLF has conducted extensive public outreach and education, and is helping to shape and advance a set of recommendations that create more diverse and stable funding sources for state parks; broaden and strengthen the constituency for parks; and connect state parks to larger recreation and economic initiatives and community needs. 

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Equitable Infrastructure for Los Angeles

With the passing of Measures A, M, and W in Los Angeles  and California Proposition 68—all developed and passed with the help of our partners—Los Angeles is poised to transform communities with billions of dollars of public funding for parks, transportation, drinking water, and coastal protection. Working with local groups, RLF is advancing a vision that will drive these new public funds toward priority parks and multiple-benefit infrastructure projects in disadvantaged communities. This Los Angeles-focused program, launched in 2019, builds on RLF’s successful track record of policy and funding work and community engagement to leverage and mobilize recently created public funding sources to ensure the funds deliver on their promise to reach the county’s neediest communities.

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California Conservation Innovations

The California Conservation Innovations program seeks to strengthen land and water conservation policies in California, increase long-term public funding for land and water conservation, and engage younger and more ethnically diverse conservation constituencies to help shape program conservation initiatives and increase conservation benefits for their communities. It works toward these goals by supporting efforts to advance policy goals related to parks access and stewardship, water resources, and climate change adaptation and resiliency; increase public funding and expand finance mechanisms for conservation; and increase participation and influence of under-engaged communities in conservation.

RLF Statement on Events of January 5-6, 2021

Today has been an extraordinary and scary day in American history, its developments generating feelings across an unimaginably broad emotional spectrum. We have been riveted, watching unprecedented violence in the nation’s capital (and, literally, in its Capitol building) that was driven by at best disingenuous and arguably seditious actions, taken at the highest levels of government. This jaw-dropping, mesmerizing spectacle almost eclipsed events of the last 24 hours in Georgia. Almost, but not quite. For in Georgia we are once again able to celebrate the effectiveness of fair and inclusive elections, led by dedicated, strategic grass roots organizing and advocacy…

Kids with binoculars, from Outdoor Outreach

Tomorrow’s Solutions Will be Found Where Issues Intersect

The lessons of 2020 are harsh and profound: science and leadership matter, resilient natural systems are essential to our health and security, and we have a long way to go on racial equity. As much as we all wish for 2021 to usher in a new era of hope and positive change, the work to achieve that reality is up to us.  The last nine months have made clear that we need to think about and solve our problems in different ways. If we are to ensure a just and resilient future in which people and nature thrive, we must…

Pandemic Spotlights Importance of Local Farms to Food Security

COVID-19 has hit our economy like a wrecking ball. While news headlines have been filled with stories about bars re-closing and shuttered hair salons, even the most fundamentally essential of industries, farming, has been hard hit. Now, as wildfires rage across more than a million acres of California, dense smoke fills the air, further compromising the health and well-being of those working to put fresh food on our tables. Just as the first spring crops of asparagus and strawberries were beginning to show up at California farmers markets in March, schools and restaurants throughout the nation abruptly closed and entire…

Recovery with Resilience: Public Investments for a Sustainable, Equitable Future

Image: Montana Conservation Corps crews, made up of high school and college students from the Wind River Indian Reservation, helping Chicago Botanic Garden interns collect seeds for the Seeds of Success program in the BLM Lander Field Office area. As America’s COVID catastrophe worsens, inflicting a depth of social and economic distress unprecedented in modern times, policymakers have a moral duty to implement a socially and environmentally just recovery, one that rectifies past systemic harms and steers our nation toward a brighter, greener, and more resilient future. Seven months since the first case of COVID-19 was detected here, our country…

RLF Statement on the Appointment of Armando Quintero as Director of California State Parks

Resources Legacy Fund (RLF) was pleased to learn of Governor Newsom’s appointment of Armando Quintero as the new director of California’s Department of Parks and Recreation (State Parks). Quintero’s appointment resonates with California’s long-standing heritage of protecting its cultural and natural resources and public lands while also promising strong guidance for leading State Parks into a more accessible and equitable future, especially important as our state and nation shift towards a greater consciousness of racial justice. “Director Quintero brings deep experience to the preservation and stewardship of public lands for people,” said RLF Vice President Matt Armsby. “We look forward…

Even a Child Can See: Parks Access is More Important than Ever

The other day, my daughter asked if it was safe for us to have a family beach day again. She immediately frowned when I reminded her that even if a nearby beach were open, we would have nowhere to park because the lots are closed. “So, only people close enough to walk there, get to go to the beach?” she asked. “How is that fair?” She’s only 11 years old, but she already understands something many adults don’t: That everyone needs access to outdoor spaces, but not everyone has it. The COVID-19 crisis is reminding us how essential parks and…

George Floyd protest DC

RLF Statement about Death of George Floyd and Other Recent Racist Acts

The death of another unarmed African American man—George Floyd—at the hands of police is outrageous and horrifying. The origins and history of the United States are steeped in racism, colonialism, and violence. We have come a long way, but these recent events underscore what was already clear: we still have much to do as a society, as individuals, and as an organization to build a more equitable and just future. The timing of this tragedy—occurring during a pandemic that is disproportionately harming and killing African Americans and other communities of color—makes Floyd’s death even more appalling. Two other recent incidents…

River confluence Grand Canyon

Strong and Resilient: Supporting Western Conservation Communications

In early March, seemingly a lifetime ago, Alastair Lee Bitsói and I were excitedly preparing for Utah Diné Bikéyah to host the Advisory Board meeting of the Western Communications Hub (the Hub)* in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Hub, which supports non-profit organizations in advancing high-priority communications efforts, received 44 compelling project proposals and the board was tasked with selecting just six to fund. This work is perhaps more important now than ever as in-person communications have screeched to a halt, making digital communication vital to the ongoing work of so many organizations. I have the honor of managing the…

Equity is at the Heart of Innovation in California

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to take a heavy physical, emotional, and economic toll across the globe. As devastating as it is in the moment, we must brace ourselves for the enduring impacts of this crisis, which will last long after we contain its viral growth. As with many crises, the hardest hit and the slowest to recover will be low-income communities. Through our work in the California Conservation Innovations (CCI) program, we hope we can provide support, thought partnership, and comradery as we continue to support new, ethnically diverse leaders and their important work in California’s underserved communities. The CCI…

CCI Constituency Engagement Strategy Evaluation

RLF commissioned this report to evaluate the constituency engagement strategy of its California Conservation Innovations (CCI) program. A research team conducted 19 interviews, two focus group sessions, and an online survey of 75 grantees to describe CCI’s grantmaking approach and its impact. This report summarizes the findings and makes five recommendations to RLF that can further evolve CCI’s constituency building strategy and outcomes.

Measures Matter: Ensuring Equitable Implementation of Los Angeles County Measures M & A

RLF commissioned this report, in collaboration with other funders, to define equity in the context of infrastructure funding, explain why equity matters, and identify strategies and recommendations for measuring equitable implementation of infrastructure funding. The report provides a simple framework for funders, advocates, and government agencies to use in advancing inclusive and integrated implementation of Measures A and M in Los Angeles County. These funding measures, passed by voters in 2016, will make available billions of dollars for years to come to support parks, open space, and transportation projects.

Climate Justice Report

In 2018, RLF supported preparation of an inaugural Climate Justice Report to summarize peer-reviewed research and stimulate discussion on how California can ensure that no group of people disproportionately bears the burden of climate impacts or the costs of mitigation and adaptation. The report, available here, was incorporated into the California Natural Resources Agency’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment,which provides actionable science to guide state policy.

Parks Forward

After a budget crisis in 2012 nearly forced the closure of many state parks, RLF worked with the State of California to create an independent, collaborative effort to develop an action plan for a financially sustainable State Parks system that meets the needs of California’s increasingly urban, young, and diverse population. Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. established the Parks Forward Commission to make reform recommendations. The Commission’s final report can be found here.

Finding Hope in the Moment

When I sat down to write this blog, I began by reflecting on the first 20 years of RLF’s work and what the next 20 years will bring. Coronavirus had yet to upend the lives of many outside the Asian continent. Just a few weeks later, most of the country is on lock-down, the economy has imploded, nearly 10 million Americans have applied for unemployment, and the global death toll has topped 45,000, rapidly accelerating.* As devastating as this new reality is, I find comfort in the fact that we are coming together as neighbors, Americans, corporations, philanthropists, and global…