Press release: Jane Kleeb Receives 2023 Climate Breakthrough Award to Pursue Transformative Climate Action



SAN FRANCISCO, NOVEMBER 1, 2023 — Jane Kleeb of the United States has been named as a recipient of the 2023 Climate Breakthrough Award, the largest climate funding for individuals, award organizer and global philanthropy Climate Breakthrough said today.

Jane will receive US$3 million in multiyear, flexible funding along with comprehensive capacity-building resources to build alliances among rural Americans and advocate clean energy development that is beneficial to local residents.

Known as a key figure behind the successful fight against the Keystone XL pipeline, Jane is one of two recipients (the other is Gita Syahrani of Indonesia) for the distinguished award this year. They join 17 previous Climate Breakthrough Awardees who have used their funding to create or scale novel initiatives with strong breakthrough potential to tackle the climate crisis.

Jane is an inspiring leader who has already made remarkable contributions to addressing the climate crisis, and now she’s setting her sights on even more ambitious goals,” said Climate Breakthrough Executive Director Savanna Ferguson. “I’m grateful that Climate Breakthrough can serve as a catalyst for her transformative climate effort.”

Jane’s journey has demonstrated the power of unexpected alliances of farmers, ranchers, indigenous leaders, and climate campaigners in rural America—communities that can be the powerhouse of America’s clean energy future.

I am honored to have our collective work recognized by Climate Breakthrough. The past decade of stopping risky pipelines with unlikely alliances changed the status quo of climate organizing. I am excited and ready to take on the challenge of building clean energy across rural America with a new economic and cultural model that brings energy freedom and land justice,” said Jane Kleeb.

Jane plans to use the funding to build alliances among those communities around their land preservation, break down opposition to renewable energy development, and advocate clean energy development that is beneficial to local residents through what she calls the “American Energy Dividend.”

Jane is the third awardee from the United States, following Denise Fairchild in 2021 and Bruce Nilles in 2017.

With the two new awardees, Climate Breakthrough has now given 19 multi-million-dollar, multiyear awards supporting initiatives that could reduce global annual emissions by hundreds of millions of tons, affect entire industries or regions of the world, and materially change the lives of millions of people.

At its core, the Climate Breakthrough Award is an investment in the potential of climate breakthroughs. Relying on three tenets—larger grants, a longer time horizon, and more flexibility—the Award is a rare philanthropic model that invests in capable individuals to lead big-bet, transformational efforts rather than those with near-term metrics of incremental progress.

Candidates are scouted (no unsolicited applications), vetted rigorously and exhaustively, and then invited to in-depth interviews on their leadership skills and breakthrough ideas.

In addition to the $3 million grant, awardees receive separate funding for capacity-building services such as executive coaching, fundraising and communications support, legal support, and third-party impact and learning evaluations. Eligible awardees may also receive a $600,000 matching grant toward the end of the grant period to attract follow-on funding and further support their work.

Additional Information

Climate Breakthrough funds system-change initiatives that harness the immense power of cultural shifts, political reforms, and economic transformations in addressing the climate crisis. They do not fund technology advancements or for-profit strategies.

Over 60 percent of their awards have gone to women or women-led teams, and more than 70 percent have supported work in the Global South.

Their awardees have raised over $180 million collectively in follow-on funding.

Additional Quotes

Bill McKibben — Author, Educator, Environmentalist, Founder of and

If anyone ever deserved a Climate Breakthrough Award, it is Jane. I have never worked with anybody who’s worked harder, smarter, or in a better spirit.”

Justin J. Pearson — Tennessee State Representative, US

Congratulations, Jane. Thank you for bringing the same spirit that you brought to the pipeline fights to the movement to make sure that rural communities are given access to the wealth that is created by clean energy.”

Walt Reid — Founding board chair of Climate Breakthrough. Vice President of Environment & Science at the David and Lucile Packard Foundation

The strategies and solutions the world is pursuing today are not sufficient to achieve a safe climate future. We need bold new ideas and approaches. By identifying outstanding individuals with different backgrounds from different countries and giving them the resources to think big and launch novel, high-impact initiatives, Climate Breakthrough is generating the new solutions that the world needs.”


Climate Breakthrough is a global philanthropy supporting extraordinary leaders to pursue ambitious and transformative climate action that swiftly and justly closes the gap between the world today and a sustainable future. Launched in 2016 as a multi-funder collaborative, Climate Breakthrough is currently supported by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the IKEA Foundation, the JPB Foundation, The Lemelson Foundation, Quadrature Climate Foundation, and Vere Initiatives.

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