Threat to Energy Efficiency and Weatherization Program Could Hurt California’s Resilient Future

Threat to Energy Efficiency and Weatherization Program Could Hurt California’s Resilient Future

Legislators this week started discussions to decide the fate of the Low-Income Weatherization Program (LIWP), a program that brings energy efficiency and utility bill savings to low-income California families. The program, whose funding Gov. Brown proposed eliminating in his proposed budget, is financed through the state’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, which directs money collected from polluters through cap-and-trade and invest it in cleaning the environment and encouraging economic growth within the most vulnerable communities. Eliminating funding for LIWP — a program that brings low-income families #energyefficiency and utliity bill savings — would be a step backwards for California. LIWP provides free or deeply discounted energy efficiency upgrades and solar power…
Read More Continue reading


Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Are Racial Justice Tools

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Are Racial Justice Tools

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are buzzwords we see often. With big companies launching brand campaigns to communicate their commitment to diversity (did you see the Superbowl ads this year?) and job boards seeing an increase in DEI roles, it’s clear that more people and organizations know that DEI work should be a priority. However, the case for DEI has become highly centered around business instead of the communities the concepts were designed to empower. It’s time to reframe diversity, equity, and inclusion as tools that focus on people and racial justice. Enter our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Framework, which explains how diversity, equity and inclusion can close the racial wealth…
Read More Continue reading


Warning of the 2008 Financial Crisis – and Stopping a New Wave of Predatory Lending

Warning of the 2008 Financial Crisis – and Stopping a New Wave of Predatory Lending

It’s considered rude to say, “I told you so,” but as far as the 2008 financial crisis goes, we did. Now a new wave of financial deregulation could set up a rerun of the predatory lending boom that devastated communities of color and tanked our entire economy. We’d had a fairly cordial relationship with Federal Reserve Board Chair Alan Greenspan going back to Greenlining’s early days in 1993-94, so we hoped that he’d listen when we told him we were worried about what was going on with adjustable-rate mortgages and subprime lending. As the housing boom started to take off in the late 1990s and early 2000s, something of a…
Read More Continue reading


Brownfields, UC Merced and Fighting for Environmental Equity

Brownfields, UC Merced and Fighting for Environmental Equity

The environment is a key civil rights issue, but when I started to get involved in environmental issues, we didn’t often see other people of color in the room and at times it seemed like mainstream environmentalists were more concerned with saving trout than with getting clean water to low-income children. In the aftermath of the L.A. uprisings in 1992, several Greenlining Coalition members, led by our coalition partners at West Angeles Community Development Corporation and F.A.M.E. Renaissance, started an effort to revitalize their communities that had been torn apart by redlining. They particularly wanted to address the numerous vacant and abandoned sites found in California’s inner cities, called “brownfields.”…
Read More Continue reading


Young People Changing Policy: The Birth of Greenlining’s Leadership Academy

Young People Changing Policy: The Birth of Greenlining’s Leadership Academy

I found out about the Greenlining Leadership Academy during the spring semester of my first year in graduate school at the University of Michigan, where I was working on my master’s degree in public policy. Everyone was finding summer internships, and I really wanted to get back to the Bay Area. A friend of mine saw a brochure for the Leadership Academy and said, “You need to apply for this.” The Academy brought together different elements that I didn’t think anybody else had: policy and advocacy on issues that were important to low-income communities and communities of color, and the brochure made it very clear that this was a, multiethnic…
Read More Continue reading


Taking a Federal Reserve Official on a Tour of South Central L.A.

Taking a Federal Reserve Official on a Tour of South Central L.A.

The Greenlining Institute was still a new organization in 1995. We’d just had our first Economic Development Summit the year before, featuring U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer and Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, and in 1995 we did something that apparently no one had thought of before: We took Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Alan Blinder on a tour of South Central L.A. – the sort of neighborhood where federal financial regulators never set foot, a community totally outside their experience. My day job back then was working for the Urban League in Arizona, where I’d moved two years earlier. I’d been on the board of Public Advocates where Bob Gnaizda was working, and…
Read More Continue reading


CRA “Reform” Is an Attack on Communities of Color

CRA “Reform” Is an Attack on Communities of Color

By this point, it’s no secret that the Trump administration is in open warfare with communities of color, the working class, and regulations that safeguard our interests. Now, it seems, they’re coming after the Community Reinvestment Act – CRA for short. Heads up: Trump’s administration is going after the Community Reinvestment Act, a bill that helps close the racial wealth gap. CRA, a civil rights law passed by Congress in 1977 to address redlining, is reportedly next on the administration’s hit list. The effects of redlining — the refusal of banks to lend and invest in communities of color and low-income areas for decades – linger today. By enacting the CRA,…
Read More Continue reading


Why I Don’t Speak Spanish: The Collateral Damage of Prejudice

Why I Don’t Speak Spanish: The Collateral Damage of Prejudice

I wish I knew how to speak Spanish. Not only would it be incredibly useful in my current job here at Greenlining, I can think of hundreds of occasions in the past when it would have helped. But I don’t speak Spanish for precisely one reason: prejudice. In 6th grade – the last year of grade school in my district – we’d learned a smattering of Spanish via a teacher who came into our class once a week, Señora Rosa. Starting middle school the next year (1968, for anyone who’s counting – but please don’t) offered me my first chance to take a foreign language class every day. With a…
Read More Continue reading


More than Fighting Redlining: The Origins of The Greenlining Institute

More than Fighting Redlining: The Origins of The Greenlining Institute

I was born and raised in South Central Los Angeles – Watts — a child of Mexican immigrants. We used to jokingly call it Hollywatts. So I saw first-hand what it was like to live in a community that had been victimized by redlining. My parents didn’t speak English, so I did all the translating for them. My parents always taught me that we should help people, so they’d bring people by the house and I would translate for them. We always had that tradition of service. I also saw tragedy. My brother was shot in a drive-by shooting and didn’t have health insurance, so he was bounced around by…
Read More Continue reading


25 Years of Fighting for Racial Justice

25 Years of Fighting for Racial Justice

2018 marks an important milestone for us: On March 8, 1993, The Greenlining Institute officially incorporated, making the leap from an informal coalition to an actual organization. This anniversary comes at a moment in our nation’s history when the fight for racial justice has never been more important, a moment when everything we fight for is under more intense threat than we’ve seen in decades. And that fight has never been more crucial. So over the next few months – here on this blog, on Greenlining’s social media accounts and at our Economic Summit on May 24 — we will be revisiting some key moments in our history and reflecting…
Read More Continue reading