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PagerDuty Responds to the Climate Imperative By Addressing Injustice With New Philanthropic Partners

by Olivia Khalili February 15, 2022 | 8 min read

PagerDuty launched the PagerDuty.org Fund two years ago to deploy funding in the area of Time-Critical Health, with a mission to help save lives by reaching people faster. Since then, the world has experienced the far-reaching impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and a reckoning over racial injustice. One lingering legacy of the pandemic is that it has further exacerbated structural inequities in our public health systems. In response, PagerDuty deployed $1,000,000 in funding, product and technical support in 2021 to organizations focused on distributing vaccines to the most marginalized communities around the world. 

Our World, Our Goals

With a commitment to combatting systemic discrimination, we’ve expanded our work in addressing health inequities to another area impacted by structural racism—the effects of climate change and environmental pollution. With extreme weather events increasingly affecting more of our day-to-day lives and well-being, we are seeing more clearly the harm that climate change brings to the health of our communities. While these changes affect all of us, it is those with the fewest resources who will suffer the most. Notably, the health inequities we’ve witnessed in the pandemic response are mirrored in the way that persistent racial, class and gender inequalities leave many groups more vulnerable to the impacts of environmental hazards and climate change. A growing body of research is documenting how people of color, low-income communities, and indigenous people are disproportionately harmed by water and air pollution and toxic contamination. Though the practice of redlining was banned more than 50years ago, its effects continue to hurt communities of color today as historically redlined neighborhoods in U.S. cities experience hotter temperatures, with fewer trees and green spaces than non-redlined neighborhoods. Furthermore, these same groups are more likely to suffer the most severe harms from climate change—being least able to prepare for and recover from heat waves, flooding, wildfires, and the impacts of other extreme weather events. 

In order to tackle the disinvestment in communities of color, a root cause at the heart of this inequity, we must focus on a vision for environmental justice that is centered around the meaningful involvement of all people, especially those who have been disproportionately, and systemically, affected by the effects of pollution and climate change. In this window of opportunity, we have to reimagine a more equitable future, we need a socially just approach that doesn’t redline the effects of our environmental crisis. Ensuring that the most marginalized are protected from environmental hazards and the impacts of climate change, as well as emerging health threats, requires a collaborative and systemic approach.

In researching the field of climate philanthropy, we learned of another inequity: only 1.3% of funding from climate-focused funders was directed to BIPOC-led organizations addressing environmental justice. This imbalance has led the Donors of Color Network to create the Climate Funders Justice Pledge, asking the nation’s largest climate funders to commit publicly to greater transparency and to deploy at least 30% of their climate funding to BIPOC-led frontline groups

Investing in Future World Leaders

With a goal of advancing equity, we have been intentional across all our funding initiatives in supporting diverse leaders and organizations that empower communities of color. PagerDuty.org is building on our history of investing in organizations with women and BIPOC leaders by deploying a total of $250,000 in unrestricted funding to four organizations working toward environmental and climate justice. These organizations, all of which are led by a BIPOC executive director, are part of national, regional, and international community-led movements, with some also using open-source technology to advocate for a more just future. These partners include:

Earth Guardians trains and empowers youth to be effective leaders in the environmental, climate, and social justice movements across the globe. With thousands of engaged youth across six continents, Earth Guardians provides the platform, resources, and opportunities to connect, amplifying their voices and the impact they are having in their communities. Whether through music, art, and culture, or by organizing climate strikes and rallies, Earth Guardians youth leaders are inspiring others to imagine a regenerative future.

“Having gone through a transition in the organizationThis is the first time since the founding in 1992 that we are led by a BIPOC woman under 40. We are grateful for PagerDuty.org publicly supporting Earth Guardian through this transition and the work we do. With this donation, we will directly support our youth empowerment to create powerful change using arts, storytelling, organizing, and legal action, all while inspiring impactful solutions to the critical issues we face as a global community.”

-Catherine Mongella, Executive Director, Earth Guardians

Earth Hack’s vision for inclusion is a global community in which intergenerational and multinational connections form and students engage together in hackathons as a form of environmental action. Prior hackathons have worked on solutions to inequity problems such as urban heat islands, an issue disproportionately impacting communities of color stemming from the historical discriminatory practice of redlining. Harnessing the innovation capacity of hackathons, their open source project library serves as a launching point for thousands of university students to engage in critical thinking and get a jump start on potential solutions. 

“Earth Hacks is grateful to the PagerDuty.org Fund for their generosity in supporting our work harnessing hackathons as a form of environmental action. This grant enables us to support more students than we have in previous years, push forward constellations of small, meaningful environmental solutions, and continue to drive a justice-focused culture shift in the environmental tech space.”

-Sanjana Paul, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Earth Hacks

OpenAQ is a nonprofit organization with the mission to connect individuals and communities with open data to advance science, impact policy, and empower people to fight air pollution. The OpenAQ Platform is the largest open-source air quality data platform, aggregating and harmonizing 16 billion data points from 135 countries across the globe with 15 million data requests per month. The OpenAQ Platform serves as the foundation underpinning global, regional, and local action for cleaner air. They also bring together diverse stakeholders to collaboratively develop data design and action plans to catalyze equitable solutions for cleaner air.  

“OpenAQ is thrilled to be a PageDuty.org grant partner. Support through this partnership will help OpenAQ better fulfill its vision of a world where access to data is no longer a barrier to achieving clean air. We will be able to make air quality data more accessible to those who are most affected by poor air quality and bring together a coalition of air quality advocates who will harness the power of open data to catalyze solutions for cleaner air.”

Chisato Fukuda Calvert, Interim Director, OpenAQ 

The Solutions Project (TSP) is a public foundation that funds and amplifies climate justice solutions created by Black, Indigenous, immigrant, women and People of Color-led organizations across the U.S. In 2021, TSP made $10 million in grants to 127 grassroots organizations and provided $1 million in communications capacity to grantees. This supported celebrated wins from the phase-out of oil production to stopping a pipeline, to the development of wind turbine and electric vehicle manufacturing to the creation of community solar and water systems.

“The movement is asking philanthropy to further collaborate with grassroots organizations who are creating climate justice solutions on the ground that tackle a multitude of issues simultaneously. The Solutions Project envisions a world where everyone has affordable housing, good green jobs, and equitable access to resources. The only way we can get here is moving in solidarity with frontline communities and we are excited for industry leaders like PagerDuty to recognize this path to climate justice.”

-Gloria Walton, CEO of The Solutions Project

One positive outcome from the COVID-19 pandemic has been how it prompted funding partners to increase the speed and flexibility of their funding. PagerDuty.org continues to follow the precedent set in this regard, structuring our grants as unrestricted funding, allowing these organizations to advance their missions as they see fit. We are also grateful to a group of PagerDuty employeesleaders from our employee resource groups, our Social Impact ambassador council, and some of our most dedicated environmental championsfor weighing in on our selection process and providing a number of diverse perspectives that helped inform our decisions.

Support and Encourage

As one of our partners, Earth Guardians, has shown us, the youth-led climate movement is pushing philanthropy to step up to the urgency of the moment. Insights and learnings from our partners will continue to inform our strategy as we evolve our approach to addressing systemic discrimination. We are honored to support these exceptional organizations and encourage others to join us in this effort to help protect the health of all humans and the planet.