Our Vision

We envision a future where communities of color can build wealth, live in healthy places filled with economic opportunity, and are ready to meet the challenges posed by climate change.

Our Work

Founded in 1993, The Greenlining Institute is committed to building a just economy that is inclusive, cooperative, sustainable, participatory, fair, and healthy. Our multifaceted advocacy efforts address the root causes of racial, economic, and environmental inequities in order to meaningfully transform the material conditions of communities of color in California and across the country. We act as an incubator of new policy ideas, a bridge builder between people, communities and government, and an advocate to build momentum for transformative change. Because economic opportunity has many parts, and they all connect, we work on a variety of major policy issues, from the economy to environmental policy, health care and many others. We don’t see these issues as being in separate silos, but as interconnected threads in a web of opportunity.

Driving everything we do is a vision of equity in which economic opportunity is truly within reach of all. For our nation to succeed, communities of color must succeed, and we are determined to make that happen.

Headquartered in Oakland, California, Greenlining’s approach connects community leaders with policymakers, researchers and private sector leaders. We design and support policies designed to open doors to opportunity, recognizing that America’s racial wealth gap was created by deliberate policy choices and it will take deliberate, race-conscious choices to end it. 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 opportunity 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. Our graduates have gone on to occupy influential positions in government, business and the nonprofit sector, including multiple elective offices and a seat on the California Supreme Court.

"The Greenlining Institute often says what other nonprofits only think."

The Nonprofit Quarterly

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 grew so much that 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 diversity leads to greater effectiveness.

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.

Our Solution

We advance Greenlining, the affirmative and proactive practice of providing economic opportunities to communities of color. We envision communities of color with the full potential, power, and influence to actively shape their lives and neighborhoods. We work to harness that power to bring forward solutions that advance racial equity.

We do this by publishing research and policy frameworks, advancing practical policy solutions, and monitoring and influencing actual implementation of policies that:

  • Expand access to safe, affordable, and sustainable capital and investments that promote employment and business opportunities for communities of color
  • Increase access to key products and services that empower communities to thrive
  • Ensure people of color can access and remain in healthy, sustainable, and climate resilient communities
  • Promote leadership, community capacity, and governance that advances racial equity

We target decision-makers in the California state legislature, local, state, and federal government agencies, and private corporations in key parts of our economy, including energy, the environment, financial services, technology, and health. We see California and its regions as the key testing ground for equity-minded solutions that can spread across the nation.

We see our work as a continuation of the civil rights movement, working at the intersection of race and economics. When communities of color succeed, America will succeed.

Our Impact

Since 1993, we’ve passed policies and negotiated with banks and other corporations to direct over $339 billion in investments into communities of color. We have pioneered cross-sector solutions and advanced a racial equity lens in leading industries that have traditionally been overlooked by civil rights leaders. And, we have worked closely with local jurisdictions to implement policies and practices that maximize benefits to disadvantaged communities as a foundation for systemic change. This has brought real, practical benefits to underserved communities, from jobs in clean energy industries to protection for low-income Californians against unfair utility shut-offs.

Our over 1,000 Leadership Academy graduates continue to spread our values of diversity, empowerment and racial equity throughout the corporate and nonprofit worlds, city councils, school boards and even the California Supreme Court.