Entrepreneurs working together with communities can build an equitable and resilient climate future.
We support builders and thinkers working on innovative climate solutions. Through a combination of philanthropic and venture investments, our goal is to support a just transition to a regenerative economy that helps communities most impacted by our changing climate. Our work in Environment includes Elemental Excelerator.
5 Questions With EC Environment
Questions and answers
What excites you about climate solutions today, and what does EC look for in a company before investing?
Today’s climate-tech ecosystem is significantly more robust than ever before in terms of resources, research, and creativity for tackling big problems. Our investees are “following the carbon,” leading work focused on decarbonizing the industries that represent the largest sources of greenhouse gases and accelerating our transition to a healthier planet. We look for mission-aligned organizations that are seeking partners to help them accelerate restoring the balance between humanity and nature. Additionally, we seek companies looking to be catalysts in addressing large climate problems, while creating value for all of their stakeholders.
Environment & Energy Emerson Collective
How does community wisdom impact how the deployment of climate-tech solutions can scale?
No new innovation or technology is deployed in a vacuum. At Elemental Excelerator, we fund first-of-a-kind projects that can help solve climate change. After funding more than 130 startups and 70 projects, we've found that the most impactful projects engage community partners. But the gap between climate-tech and community investment is widening, hindering the work of the nonprofits creating climate solutions on the ground—who are also our best partners for getting pathbreaking technologies to communities on the front lines of climate change. That's why we spend about 50% of our time building up markets, communities, and policy environments. Seaming these areas together is how real progress will be made.
Founder & CEO, Elemental Excelerator
What does it mean to have a lens of justice and equity in environmental work?
It means listening to frontline communities and building mutual trust, and continuously asking who is not being represented in the room. It also means learning from those who have long been stewards of our planet, such as Indigenous communities or regenerative farmers. It requires following the gathered wisdom of grassroots leadership—when confronted with new opportunities and environmental solutions, we must ask, “Who makes these decisions; who benefits; what will be the unintended consequences; how does this shift power; who gets to tell the story?” It ultimately requires rooting our work in values that advance a just transition to a regenerative economy and an equitable society.
Director, Philanthropy, Environmental Justice, Emerson Collective
Elemental believes in the power of “Equity In/Equity Out.” Why is this model important for Elemental’s work?
Put simply, this is the idea that the work of equity must happen in an organization in order to build equity out in the world. It’s a framework that helps us ensure that diversity, equity, and inclusion aren’t compartmentalized at Elemental, but funneled throughout every level and team. We’re working to redesign systems at the roots of climate change, which relies on our ability to develop this mindset and capacity in our companies’ leaders. A company that understands this connection prioritizes things like hiring and partnering locally, and building an inclusive team and supply chain because they know their work is stronger for it.
Managing Director, Equity & Access, Elemental Excelerator
What is the role of markets in driving climate solutions at scale?
In a lot of ways, climate is a market problem because of its scale, which means market solutions are needed. We make climate decisions every day that engage with the market—filling our cars with gas, opting to ride a bike instead, buying groceries, flipping a switch to turn on power. Because markets are so good at persistence and magnitude, they have also created a lot of climate challenges—think of how bringing low-cost energy to the market for people created the externality of waste and fossil-fuel combustion. But because markets are in perpetual motion, as the market creates value, there’s more value to reinvest in climate solutions that work.
Environment & Energy Emerson Collective
Stay Up to DateGet our newsletter
more from our work
- Learn MoreWe partner with nonprofits to create a more just and equitable future for individuals and communities.
Venture CapitalLearn MoreWe are a multi-stage venture team focused on accelerating the growth of companies positively impacting the world.
ImmigrationLearn MoreAmerica benefits economically and culturally when immigrants are celebrated for their contributions.
EducationLearn MoreEvery child deserves an education that will prepare them to thrive in a competitive and rapidly changing world.
Media and JournalismLearn MoreHigh-quality journalism and storytelling are crucial to a healthy democracy.
Gun Violence Reduction in ChicagoLearn MoreA radical reduction in gun violence is within reach.
Race and Equity in the SouthLearn MoreA more just, inclusive, and equitable South is possible if we confront racism head-on.
FellowshipsLearn MoreOur Fellows are advancing important new work in education, immigration, the environment, social justice, media, and health.
InternshipsLearn MoreEmerson Collective’s two internship programs help college students develop experience in impactful areas of work, building the next generation of young leaders.