When F5 launched the Tech for Good grant four years ago, we knew investments in technology infrastructure were often the first line items to be cut from nonprofits’ tight operating expense budgets. Many an early aughts laptop running an unpatched version of Windows XP has been asked to squeak out one more year of use for a nonprofit! It was important to F5—and remains so today—to help close some of those critical funding gaps for those first 25 nonprofit grantees that could attest to the role technology played in expanding their reach and accelerating their impact.
One year on and the cataclysmic events of 2020 made it glaringly obvious we could do a better job of reflecting F5’s overarching commitment to build a diverse and inclusive culture internally with our external commitments to the communities in which we live and work. Specifically, that meant focusing our 2021 and 2022 Tech for Good grant funding on technology investments for nonprofits that serve majority Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC), and other underrepresented communities. We knew we were on the right track when we saw our Tech for Good grant applications increase 135% and our employees, who make up all of our grant selection committees, choose some of the most promising nonprofits F5 had ever funded.
That brings us to 2023, a year punctuated by climate catastrophes—flooding in Pakistan, wildfires displacing Indigenous communities in Canada, and prolonged drought in the Horn of Africa, to name but a devastating few. Time and again, it is the most vulnerable populations that suffer outsized effects from climate change, despite the fact these majority-BIPOC communities have contributed little historically to the greenhouse gas emissions that are wreaking havoc on the planet. More to the point, many such BIPOC communities are the climate stewards protecting the majority of Earth’s biodiversity in the forests, deserts, grasslands, and marine environments in which they have lived for centuries.
But what many organizations, including my own Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG) team here at F5, are now attempting to address on the environmental front does not take into account the social cost of climate change. This rests at the core of the climate justice movement—to consider not just the technical and operational changes required to cut emissions, but also to address the issues of human rights and social inequality that comes with climate change. It is that gap—between the environmental and the social—that inspired this year’s focus on climate justice for the Tech for Good grants.
We received 310 applications from nonprofits around the world and each one was a testament to the fact that while everyone needs to do their part to address the climate crisis, the burden should not be borne by those who have contributed the least. Of the many great applications we received, there were 10 organizations that our employee committee found stood out from the rest for their highly localized approaches to the global issues of climate justice.
These organizations represent ecosystems as unique as rainforests to coastlines and causes as diverse as climate-resilient crops to clean energy. Together, the 2023 grantees will apply technology solutions to some of the most intractable climate challenges affecting BIPOC and underrepresented communities. F5 is very proud to play even a small part in advancing their work.
If you work for a nonprofit organization addressing climate issues that impact majority BIPOC or underrepresented communities and would like to be notified when the 2024 F5 Tech for Good grant application opens, please add your information here.
Our congratulations go to the 10 nonprofits that each received $25,000 Tech for Good grants in 2023!
Mission: Coalition for Rainforest Nations supports countries that did little to cause the climate emergency but are experiencing catastrophic effects from climate change including flooding, drought, and hunger.
“Our ultimate goal is to get to zero forest-related carbon emissions in all rainforest countries. A Tech for Good grant will help us get there faster by enabling rainforest countries to more quickly and accurately measure their emissions.”
-- Aaron Rashba, Development Director, Coalition for Rainforest Nations
Mission: CONASU is working to prevent further deforestation, protect forest resources, and promote sustainable livelihoods for local communities, including marginalized women, youth, and Indigenous people in Tanzania.
“Deforestation in Gairo district is a pressing concern, threatening both forests and marginalized communities. Embracing IT technology is vital to address this challenge effectively. With innovative solutions, we can safeguard forests and empower communities, ensuring a sustainable and equitable future.”
-- Angelus Runji, Executive Director, CONASU
Peru, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Gabon, and Papua New Guinea
Mission: Created in response to the climate emergency, Cool Earth is a network of community-led conservation partnerships that demand and deliver rainforest protection.
“We won’t save the rainforest without putting the people who live there at the heart of everything. The climate crisis is an inequality crisis, and we all need to recognize urgently that this is about fixing injustices.”
-- Nog Sawdon, Trusts Manager, Cool Earth
Mission: Dedicated to advancing the vision of sustainable, equitable, and resilient cities, Ecocity Builders helps numerous cities around the world implement ecologically sound projects and policies.
“This project will make it possible for us to build an effective, low-cost open technology system connected to a brick factory in Nepal that will reduce severe air pollution for the indigenous Newari living next to the factory.”
-- Kirstin Miller, Executive Director, Ecocity Builders
Mission: ENVenture equips community-based organizations with business skills to become rural distributors of clean energy technologies throughout Uganda.
“We’ve incubated over 171 off-grid clean energy enterprises, which, in turn, have saved households more than $4.5 million as they’ve transitioned to clean energy technologies. We need to support thousands of clean energy entrepreneurs in off-grid communities to bring affordable off-grid solutions to over 27 million Ugandans who still lack access to electricity.”
-- Julius Mujuni, Country Director, ENVenture
Mission: National Root Crops Research Institute Umudike conducts research into the genetic improvement of roots and tuber crops to produce climate resilient crop varieties and carry out training of rural farmers, especially those underrepresented in sustainable agriculture, to improve their resilience to climate change and increase their productivity and income.
"The current production system in Nigeria and Africa is characterized by the conventional cropping system, which uses agro-chemicals and inputs that degrade the environment. A sustainable alternative such as agroforestry production systems must ensure diversification, increased productivity, and natural resource and environmental conservation."
-- Dr. Paul Ekeledo, National Root Crops Research Institute Umudike
Indonesia and Brazil
Mission: People’s Planet Project envisions a world where Indigenous peoples can halt deforestation from encroaching industries on their land and are able to live undisturbed on their own territories.
“As those most vulnerable to the negative consequences of deforestation, Indigenous peoples should be active in discussions around solutions and their implementation.”
--Andra Enuica, Donor Relations and Impact Coordinator, People’s Planet Project
Mission: Resilience Action International is a refugee led NGO working with youths in Kakuma refugee camp, Turkana county, Kenya. The NGO distributes solar energy to residents of Kakuma refugee camp through its subsidiary company Okapi Green Ltd, trains youths on environmental conservation, provides resource management for small businesses, and offers digital skills for climate change for young adults interested in STEM careers.
“A Tech for Good grant will help us improve climate resilience while minimizing the need for refugees to use non-renewable sources of energy that further degrade the already dire environment.”
-- Gloria Bitutu Mairura, Communications and Development Officer, Resilience Action International
Mission: Originally founded to stop rampant poaching of Kenya’s Black Rhino population, Rhino Ark Charitable Trust has since evolved to supporting conservation of other mountain forest ecosystems.
“By safeguarding Kenya's critical ecosystems, Rhino Ark contributes to the well-being of both wildlife and human communities, ensuring a more sustainable future for all.”
-- Gabby Mora, Development Manager, Rhino Ark Charitable Trust
Mission: WEP ensures the rights of Nigerian women and youth through sustainable environmental, socio-political, and economic development.
“As the forces of climate change have wreaked havoc on communities in Nigeria, we observed women disproportionately bear the brunt of extreme weather events, food insecurity, and water scarcity.”
-- Anne-Marie Abaagu, Executive Director, WEP