How We Work

As the only national philanthropic initiative focused solely on coal community transition, the Just Transition Fund is uniquely positioned to serve as a hub to build, connect, and sustain the transition movement.

Based on our experience in the field, we’ve discovered that communities need both investment and technical assistance to advance transition efforts. 

To help, the Fund awards grants and provides direct transition planning and support, and creates and curates resources for the field as well as holding convenings.

Our grants support effective projects, policies, and programs that:

Connect rural and urban markets.

We work to boost investment and support for resilient economic development strategies that yield the greatest impact on building community wealth. We help support the development of sustainable, low-carbon solutions and establish economic development links between rural areas and the nearest metro centers.

Stimulate entrepreneurship.

We help build entrepreneurial ecosystems to foster innovation. We support opportunities for collaboration, including information and resource-sharing among entrepreneurs, capital providers, and researchers.

Prepare workers for the jobs of tomorrow.

We support and scale innovative wraparound workforce development programs that train former coal workers and community members for new economy jobs. The most effective workforce training programs take the specific needs of affected workers into consideration to help workers complete them.

Advance state and federal transition policies.

We provide grants and resources to strengthen existing policies and advance new ones that expand key sectors (like clean energy), provide the necessary infrastructure for transition (like broadband), and create new state funding pools for transition.

Incubate newly developing transition efforts and build local community capacity for transition

 Projects that show communities what’s possible in a post-coal economy—like solar on schools or community solar—help build political will for a just transition and climate solutions.

Through our technical assistance we:

Provide direct planning support to affected communities.

In key communities, we help community leaders launch community-driven planning processes and engage all affected stakeholders, especially those who have been historically marginalized.

Hold regional and issue-specific convenings.

We hold a national convening for our grantees and partners every other year, with regional and issue briefings in the “off” years. During these events, we highlight the best practices, model programs, and innovative solutions that have emerged in different parts of the country, enabling leaders to learn from each other and more quickly move toward success.

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