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What is 350 Colorado Springs?

350 (pronounced “three-fifty”) Colorado Springs is a grassroots group located in Colorado Springs, Colorado. We’re an environmental group focused specifically on addressing the climate crisis in the city we call home, moving away from fossil fuels and towards a renewable, sustainable future.

What is a grassroots organization?

350 Colorado Springs operates by grassroots principles. That means our Team Coordinator, Leadership Council, and volunteers all live in Colorado Springs or greater El Paso County. As residents and neighbors, we seek to create a mission-driven movement within our community for the common good.

Where does the ‘350’ come from?

The 350 in our name comes from what is considered a safe atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in Earth’s atmosphere: 350 parts per million (ppm). Let’s illustrate what that actually means: if you were to sample one million molecules in the atmosphere at random, and 350 or fewer of that million are CO2, things like atmospheric warming don’t pose a significant threat to life on Earth. Other greenhouse gases like methane and nitrous oxide are also associated with atmospheric warming. However, the main problem is CO2.

350 ppm is a maximum threshold identified by Dr. James Hansen, an atmospheric physicist and climate scientist. Dr. Hansen is known as one of the first scientists to create broad awareness of climate change through testimony to Congress in 1988. Dr. Hansen is a former director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, as well as the current director of the Climate Science department at Columbia University.

According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), the 350 ppm threshold was breached in May of 1986. In 2022, the estimated concentration of CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere was 417.2 ppm. The concentration of CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere is still increasing today. Higher concentrations of atmospheric CO2 worsen current impacts of the climate crisis and increase the likelihood that we will suffer new kinds of impacts.

There are lots of other environmental nonprofits with the number “350” in their name. That’s not a coincidence.

What is our relationship with other 350 organizations?

350 Colorado is the 501(c)3 nonprofit that the Colorado Springs Team operates alongside and with.

350 Colorado Springs and 350 Colorado are both separate from 350.org, an international nonprofit organization founded in 2007 by Bill McKibben. The 350 brand is used in nonprofits all over the world. The only thing that ties these organizations together is a common philosophical approach to addressing the climate crisis.

Where does our funding come from?

We are funded by individual donations. Someday soon, we hope to be funded by small-to-medium-size grants, too. 350 Colorado Springs will cultivate the expertise and capacity necessary to apply for grant money in 2023.

What is our mission?

350 Colorado Springs’s mission can be broken down into four Pillars of Action:

1. Build a powerful grassroots movement

2. Keep all fossil fuels in the ground

3. Promote just & equitable solutions

4. Defunding Climate Disaster

What is our geographic focus?

Despite our name, the strategic reality is that climate and other environmental justice issues bleed across Colorado Springs’s borders. Things like air pollution, groundwater contaminants, and natural disasters have no concept of city boundaries. Utilities projects throughout El Paso County often spill over town, city, and even county lines.

In 2023, 350 Colorado Springs will allocate its weight of effort inside the city limits of Colorado Springs. We will begin to cultivate the capacity and coalitions necessary to dynamically support other communities in El Paso County this year.