A Minneapolis-based family foundation that has pledged $100 million to fight climate change worldwide announced today that it will focus its efforts closer to home.

The McKnight Foundation’s new Midwest Climate and Energy program will launch with $25 million in grants — $5 million to RE-AMP, the network of nonprofits that also publishes Midwest Energy News, and $20 million to the Energy Foundation.

“Over the past five years, McKnight has invested over $60 million globally which has yielded major advances in carbon reduction and helped draw other funding into key areas around the world,” said McKnight president Kate Wolford in a news release. “Now building on the Foundation’s history as a place-based funder, we will concentrate attention and funding in the Midwest.”

McKnight cited the Midwest, with growing renewable energy sources, ongoing reliance on coal and strong industrial base, as having “enormous potential in reducing carbon pollution.”

“America’s Midwest contributes 22 percent more greenhouse gas emissions than the national average,” said board chair Ted Staryk in a statement. “That hard truth also means we’re uniquely well-positioned to turn the dial the other direction.”

McKnight is a longtime funder of RE-AMP and is one of 14 foundations that are member organizations. The San Francisco-based Energy Foundation, also a RE-AMP member, provides a portion of the funding that supports Midwest Energy News‘ original journalism.

In a statement, Energy Foundation president Eric Heitz said the funding “builds on the successes of our 20-year partnership with McKnight.

“We agree the Midwest should lead the nation in advancing clean energy markets — and
at the same time reap the economic, health, and environmental benefits that come from this work.”

Ken is the director of the Energy News Network at Fresh Energy and is a founding editor of both Midwest Energy News and Southeast Energy News. Prior to joining Fresh Energy, he was the managing editor for online news at Minnesota Public Radio. He started his journalism career in 2002 as a copy editor for the Duluth News Tribune before spending five years at the Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Washington, where he worked as a copy editor, online producer, features editor and night city editor. A Nebraska native, Ken has a bachelor's degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a master's degree from the University of Oregon. He is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors.

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