The Barr Foundation believes Boston can become a national model for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, and it is committed to helping the city do so. In 2010, the foundation announced it would devote $50 million to help Boston combat climate change. Shortly thereafter, leaders in the foundation worked with City Hall to establish the Green Ribbon Commission. In 2013, the Barr Foundation ordered the report "A City at Work" to detail the commission's evolving efforts. The 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 cofounder Amos Hostetter and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino to bring together heads from the city's leading economic sectors. The commission includes more than 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."
The Barr Foundation's 2013 report on the commission emphasizes its broad base of expertise and the importance of partnerships. From the beginning, Barr believed that networks of people would be important when confronting a problem as large as climate change. 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 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 grants largely go toward improving building efficiency and green transportation efforts. However, grantseekers applying to the Barr Foundation may be smart to brush up on the activities of the Green Ribbon Commission. Its emphasis on partnerships and networks is telling. And on its website, the Barr Foundation mentions the importance of strengthening networks to advocate policy and to educate stakeholders on best practices. Emphasizing such points may give grantees the edge they need.