The Barr Foundation believes Boston can become a national model for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and it is committed to helping the city and the rest of the state do so. In 2010 the foundation announced it would devote $50 million to help Boston and Massachusetts combat climate change. Shortly after, leaders within the foundation worked with City Hall to establish the Green Ribbon Commission, and in 2013 commissioned a writer to document its work so far. “A City at Work,” the resulting report, emphasizes the foundation’s dedication to fighting climate change by building partnerships and networks across various stakeholder groups.
The Green Ribbon Commission is a volunteer advisory group working to share strategies to fight climate change. It was initially organized by Barr’s co-founder Amos Hostetter and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino to bring together heads from Boston’s stakeholder groups. On the commission there are over 30 men and women from various businesses, institutions, and civic groups including folks from the energy, health care, real estate, construction, tourism, and financial fields. In the past Mayor Merino has called it “the biggest team effort in our city’s history.”
Barr’s 2013 report on the commission emphasizes its broad base of expertise and the importance of partnerships. The Barr Foundation from the beginning believed networks of people would be important when confronting a problem as large as climate change; and as the report states “the story of Boston’s efforts to activate a wide-ranging and powerful network to work toward a common goal deserves a wide audience”. Today, the commission functions through a variety of working groups and networks in order to share expertise and minimize duplicative efforts.
The Barr Foundation continues to fund climate change grants outside of its Green Ribbon Commission commitments. These largely go towards improving building efficiency and reducing transportation-related emissions. In the local climate program’s theory of change, network building is part of the strategy the foundation outlines, so when considering approaching Barr, keep in mind this emphasis on networks and partnerships.