I’m excited to announce the launch of CREDO Climate Heroes, an activist grant program that will give $500 to 50 activists or small groups who are protesting, blockading and confronting the fossil fuel industry and the decision-makers who are standing on the wrong side of history.

In launching CREDO Climate Heroes, we’re taking inspiration from folks like the Shell No protesters in Portland. When our elected leaders fail us and greenlight carbon-intensive extraction, these are the folks who step up, put their bodies on the line, and physically stop the machines that are warming the planet.

President Obama’s recently announced carbon rule is getting wall-to-wall press coverage right now. That’s not totally unwarranted – it IS historic, but only because the bar for federal action on climate change is so low. And nevermind that the Obama administration has cut its own climate rules off at the knees with its all-of-the-above energy policy.

But there’s a bigger, more important climate change story that’s getting a lot less attention: A massive, grassroots wave of resistance to fossil fuel extraction and infrastructure. This is the movement that has stopped the Keystone XL pipeline from being built, created the political context that makes President Obama’s carbon rules possible, and challenged oil trains and pipelines, coal plants and mines, and fracking in every state in the country. It’s the people leading this ground-level challenge to the fossil fuel industry’s stranglehold on our government who we hope the CREDO Climate Heroes activism grants will support.

Just look at what happened last week in Portland, where we saw what it meant for individuals to stand up to fossil fuel companies and the irresponsible leaders who refuse to hold them accountable.

For nearly 40 hours, dozens of kayakers, 13 people hanging from a bridge, and 13 people supporting them, succeeded for a while in shutting down Shell’s march toward catastrophic arctic drilling.

With Shell’s Arctic drilling season lasting mere weeks, those 40 hours cost the company dearly. The St. John’s bridge blockade in Portland showed that every day matters in this fight – and was yet another example of the increasingly powerful fossil fuel resistance across the country, a resistance of everyday people like you stepping up.

Greenpeace was a leader in this fight. But many of those putting their bodies on the line were individual activists and small local climate collectives. As the clock ticks faster, the years get hotter, and the carbon piles up in our atmosphere, the responsibility to challenge the fossil fuel industry has increasingly fallen on courageous individuals organizing in their own communities. They are climate heroes.

CREDO wants to support the work of local activists working on the ground to slow climate change with direct action including by nonviolent civil disobedience.

Whether they are blocking Shell’s drilling ship, organizing against tar sands pipelines from South Dakota to Maine, packing local hearings against refinery and oil train expansions, sitting-in in a corporate lobby to demand an end to mountaintop removal, fighting back against their electric utility’s attack on solar power, or urging their city council to pass a local fracking ban, these climate heroes are emerging as our last, best line of defense against the extraction, policies, leaders and political system that is literally threatening our lives.

Challenging the richest, most powerful industry on earth has never been a lucrative endeavor, though, and many front-line activists lack the funds for even basic campaign materials. We hope these grants will empower local organizing including actions that literally might not have been possible otherwise.

If you’re a climate hero, or know someone who is, please check out the application here. The deadline to apply is August 26.