How We Work

As the only national philanthropic initiative focused on coal community transition, JTF is uniquely positioned to serve as a “hub” to build, connect, and sustain the transition movement. The Fund supports and connects frontline communities through four key strategies:

Boost Investment

Frontline communities feel the impact of the energy transition in very real ways—through job loss, declining public services, and economic distress. A just transition starts with tangible projects that create economic opportunities through workforce development, business creation, and market sector development.

The Fund channels national foundation grants directly to frontline communities and supports advocacy for increased public and private investment. Through our Impact Investing Initiative, the Fund will connect impact investors — who recognize the power of fossil fuel divestment and the complementary strategy of investing in clean energy solutions—to new opportunities with promise for large-scale economic impact and job-creation in coal-impacted communities.

Increase Capacity

The Fund helps leaders in coalfield and power plant communities engage local stakeholders, connect with expert resources, develop effective transition strategies, and compete for public and private resources. The Fund also supports the broader transition movement by advancing the work of stakeholders, including policy groups and other critical state-based organizations, labor, environmental and economic equity advocates, and regional and national partners.

Recognizing that advocates in many coalfield and power plants regions are in the early stages of planning and need support, the Fund supports nascent transition efforts, including those with unusual promise for advancing a new economy, and connects them to expert resources. 

For more information on the Capacity Building grantmaking program and the Transition Movement grantmaking program, please read more about our Grantmaking Approach.

Build Political Will

A just transition for coal communities will require significant public investment, as we have seen with other historic economic transitions. Successful, local transition projects break down the political barriers that stand in the way of public policies that support a new economy by countering the narrative about benefits of the coal economy and showing public officials the viability of renewable energy solutions.

The Fund is looking to accelerate action at the state level, in addition to working to advance longer-term national policies that support coal communities. We will support grassroots organizing and advocacy efforts to promote policies that support coal communities, with a particular emphasis on clean energy solutions, at the local, state and federal levels.

Foster Learning

Operating at the cross-section of a variety of transition stakeholders — nonprofit advocates, communities and workers, resource experts, and public and private funders — the Just Transition Fund is uniquely positioned to convene diverse partners and help foster learning.

Each year, the Fund hosts a convening of community partners, resource organizations, labor leaders, public agencies, and foundation partners. The event fosters learning across sectors and regions, and enables partners to share best practices, learn innovative strategies, and network with like-minded peers. The gathering also enables foundations to engage and learn first-hand from those on the frontlines of the energy transition.

Heinrich Boll Foundation Germany Tour

In November 2016, the Just Transition Fund and ten grantees and partners traveled to Germany for a week-long tour, sponsored by the Heinrich Boll Foundation, to learn from German coal communities in transition. In addition to visiting different regions and touring communities at various stages of transition, attendees met with labor leaders, elected officials, nonprofit organizations, and policy experts. Just Transition Fund attendees represented organizations engaged in transition across the United States, including Appalachia, the Great Lakes, and the Powder River Basin.

“Perhaps the single most useful thing about the tour was witnessing the transition away from coal—complete with varying concepts, models, successes, and failures—actually playing out in coal communities in Germany.” –Tour attendee

“We were able to bring back the experience, knowledge, and the pictures from this tour and share them with leaders working on the ground…” –Tour attendee