Building a nation where communities of color thrive and race is never a barrier to opportunity



We envision a nation where communities of color thrive and race is never a barrier to economic opportunity.

Our Work

Founded in 1993, The Greenlining Institute is a policy, research, organizing, and leadership institute working for racial and economic justice. We work on a variety of major policy issues, from the economy to environmental policy, health care and many others, because we recognize that economic opportunity doesn’t operate in a vacuum. We don’t see these issues as being in separate silos, but as interconnected threads in a web of opportunity.

“The Greenlining Institute often says what other nonprofits only think.”

The Nonprofit Quarterly, September 23, 2011.

Headquartered in California, Greenlining’s approach focuses on bringing grassroots community leaders face to face with leading public and private sector leaders. We design and support policies designed to open doors to opportunity. We don’t see these interactions as a zero-sum game in which one side must win and the other must lose. Instead, we reach for win-win solutions that expand the size of the pie for all Americans.

Our Leadership Academy trains the leaders of the future to be effective advocates for justice and fairness. Through its programs, the Academy has trained and empowered over 1,000 young leaders since 1996.

Driving everything we do is a vision of equity in which the American Dream is truly within reach of all. The majority of babies born in the U.S. today are of color. The number of new businesses owned by people of color is growing at three times the rate of white-owned businesses. For our nation to succeed, communities of color will have to succeed, and we are determined to make it happen.

Our History

In the mid 1970’s a group of grassroots leaders from the African American, Asian American, Latino, and disabled communities came together around a new and visionary set of ideas: Instead of simply fighting institutionalized discrimination and redlining – the illegal practice of denying services to communities of color – we should work to proactively bring investments and opportunity into these communities. Instead of redlining, we would work to create greenlining.

Just as important, this new effort would be based on communities working together across racial and ethnic lines. Instead of different groups fighting for slices of a too-small pie, we would work together to increase the size of the pie for everyone.

What began as an informal coalition soon evolved to the point where it needed a more concrete organizational structure, so The Greenlining Institute was established in 1993. The Greenlining Institute was founded on the belief that diverse communities are a source of unrealized assets and strength, and it is that diversity that leads to greater effectiveness. Our now-retired co-founders, Robert Gnaizda and John C. Gamboa, paved the way with their vision, tenacity, and courage, fighting for social change in unexplored policy areas.

The Greenlining Institute remains connected to the grassroots via the Greenlining Coalition, a diverse group of over 50 African American, Asian American and Latino community-based organizations that comprise one of the nation’s most effective and longest lasting multi-ethnic coalitions. By combining the grassroots energy of these organizations with the institutional strength of The Greenlining Institute, we are able to leverage the unique capabilities of each into an effective engine for social change.

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