In April 2015, the Rockefeller Family Fund (RFF) and the Appalachian Funders Network (AFN) created the Just Transition Fund in conjunction with six additional national and regional foundation partners: blue moon fund, Chorus Foundation, Hewlett Foundation, The JPB Foundation, The Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, and the Mertz Gilmore Foundation.

The Fund was initially created in response to President Obama’s POWER Initiative, which provided the first-ever federal funding to help communities impacted by the changing coal economy and power sector. In a span of eight weeks, RFF and AFN created the Fund to quickly help coal-affected communities take advantage of this opportunity. The launch of the Fund also jumpstarted the engagement of national philanthropy and showcased the innovative, bottom-up ways that local communities are working to reframe and redefine their local economies.

The complex, multifaceted nature of the transition problem requires a new philanthropic approach. To address the problem, we’ve created a new philanthropic model—which has already demonstrated impressive results. Our direct investments are improving the effectiveness of the field and accelerating communities’ ability to respond to the energy transition. Our direct technical assistance is helping high-level stakeholder groups create innovative funding streams for transition projects and helping communities understand core transition strategies. 

To date, JTF grants have helped inject nearly $24 million in federal funds to support and scale community-driven transition projects. Based on input from partners and stakeholders, the Fund expanded its mission and scope to more broadly address the coal community transition movement.