Shedding Light On The Sunrise Movement

Robbie Jaeger
10 min readDec 6, 2019

How The Group’s Shady Financials Keep Us In The Dark

Social change doesn’t come cheap. It costs time, sweat, will, and of course, money. We live in a society now that is rapidly evolving; voices are being amplified, movements are building — and none of these are more prevalent than the ones regarding the topic of climate change. Since 2016, the subject of what our species is doing (or not doing) to mitigate the damage we inevitably cause to our planet has become front and center in the minds of many. While environmentalists have long since dominated their own corner of the lobbying universe, there has been another battle cry being sung— this time centering around the “Green New Deal", a legislative proposal that many environmental groups — and voters — have embraced as a gold standard of sorts. One of the most prominent faces of this issue is The Sunrise Movement. The Sunrise Movement describes themselves as a grassroots organization “building an army of young people to stop climate change”. On top of a national office, they have set up branches in states across the country, and one would think that this “movement”, as large as it is becoming, is stunningly natural. They’ve organized marches, massive protests, and even sit-ins in the name of climate change. A truly grassroots movement, one that is wholly organic, is one of the greatest signals of a societal sea change. However, philosophical problems can arise when it comes to the issues of funding — more specifically, the organizations writing the checks and their reasoning for doing so. In order to understand the present, we first must take a look at the organization’s past.

The Sunrise Movement’s origin is a bit of a complicated tale, and one that has been documented before. Evan Weber, Matthew Lichtash, and Michael Dorsey, (who at the time was a Director at The Sierra Club) joined forces with Sara Blazevic and Varshini Prakash, two young, promising activists, and The Sunrise Movement was launched in 2017, as a 501(c)(4). Sunrise also has a 501(c)(3) and a Political Action Committee, which was started before Sunrise officially incorporated into the entity they are now. Dorsey, one of the founders of Sunrise, came over with The Sierra Club’s influence, brand recognition, and their money. In fact, The Sunrise Movement got their first big break when they received a reported $30,000…

Robbie Jaeger

Independent Investigative Journalist. Sociopolitical Critic. Following The Money Down The Rabbit Hole And Back Again.