Core Fund - Environment

EJ Picnics Not Pipelines

Earth Justice

The Foundation’s Core Fund Environment Program supports a variety of organizations seeking to protect the natural and human environment and to create a sustainable future. Areas of interest include, but are not limited to: energy and climate, marine preservation, clean drinking water, and urban sustainability (targeted primarily in the New York City region). Over the past two decades, the Foundation has increasingly focused on climate change, one of the most fundamental and potentially catastrophic environmental challenges of the 21st century. In addition to efforts focused directly on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by curtailing the use of fossil fuels, increasing efficiency, and encouraging renewable technologies, the Foundation funds related mitigation and adaptation efforts in the areas of suburban sprawl, mass transit, green jobs, and bio-diversity. Because people experience and understand national and global environmental issues, including climate change, most palpably and deeply through local manifestations—in the loss or change of a local habitat, the health effects of a local coal-fired power plant, or through the creation of local high-tech/green jobs—the Foundation has emphasized efforts that mobilize residents to identify and advocate for community-initiated sustainable advances. Climate adaptation is a growing interest of the Foundation.

Recognizing that solid scientific, technological, policy, and economic analysis is a necessary, but not sufficient, driver of salutary environmental change, the Foundation supports public education, advocacy, and community organizing as critical strategies to broadly engage and mobilize the public. In particular, the Foundation supports grassroots organizing and leadership development, not only as an effective strategy to reach improved environmental outcomes, but also as a goal in-and-of-itself, based on the belief that a broadly active populace is critical to the creation of a just and healthy society and biosphere. The Foundation also focuses on the protection and mobilization of marginalized and low-income communities, as well as communities of color, recognizing that solving their environmental challenges drives society-wide environmental protection and sustainable innovation. In addition, the Foundation values legal and policy advocacy as a tool to leverage environmental gains.

GGs Phoenix Community Garden

Green Guerillas

Cities, with their high concentration of people, resources, and economic activity, create unique environmental challenges, but also offer unique opportunities to address climate change and other environmental concerns. The Foundation pays particular attention to New York City, working to improve its public transportation infrastructure, protect its drinking water supply and preserve and expand its parks and open green spaces, primarily in low-income neighborhoods.

The Foundation maintains its commitment to general operating support, especially to smaller neighborhood groups for whom the capacity to respond quickly and imaginatively to new opportunities and challenges is critical. For larger and policy-focused groups, and, in the case of collaborative campaigns, project-specific support may be appropriate.

Type & Size of Grants

General operating and project grants considered. Grants average $35,000 over two-years.

Core Fund Environment Program will not fund:

  • Land Conservation
  • Projects with a focus outside the U.S.

Rosin Fund - Environment

The Rosin Fund’s Environment Program will fund a limited number of innovative, short-term and high-impact projects that address critical environmental issues within the Program’s scope of interest. Target projects should demonstrate the potential to effect significant, transformative benefits both near-term and over time, within a project scope of one to three years and an overall budget in which the Fund’s grant plays a significant role. Proposals that reconceive environmental challenges as opportunities and present holistic, integrated solutions that address multiple problems will receive particular attention. Projects should offer measurable outcomes, preferably with the potential to multiply beneficial effects though scale and/or replication.

Projects may be focused internationally or domestically. Applicant organizations should demonstrate the ability to manage projects of the proposed size and complexity, as well as a commitment to the specific proposed project within any larger agenda. Proposals that seek to leverage Rosin Fund support with additional funds, as well as proposals that identify collaborative opportunities spanning multiple organizations, are welcome and encouraged.

The Foundation is interested in projects which cross its programmatic lines and, in particular, those that combine the Foundation’s environmental interests with the social justice goals of its Strengthening New York Communities Program. As such, the Foundation welcomes projects addressing the environmental concerns of low-income communities and communities of color, whether locally, nationally, or internationally.

Topic Areas

Building on the values and strategies of the Foundation’s Core Environment Program, the Rosin Fund Environment Program will focus on three areas: Urban Sustainability, Green Economy/Green Jobs, and Sustainable Drinking Water. Each area is described briefly below.

Urban Sustainability

Modern cities uniquely foster creative and economic activity by concentrating both people and resources. At the same time, continued urbanization creates increasingly distinct and daunting environmental concerns. Taken together, these factors create both a critical need and opportunities to address a wide variety of environmental challenges in the specific context of increasing urban density.

As one example, a United Nations Development Program report noted that more than 50% of the Asian Pacific region’s population will live in urban areas by 2020, while mega cities like Jakarta continue to lag in building the infrastructure to absorb these new residents. As another, New York City, with a per person carbon footprint already 60% smaller than the US average, is struggling to decrease that footprint further while maintaining quality of life and absorbing as many as a million more residents by 2030.

The Foundation will consider ground-breaking projects focused on new paradigms in sustainable urbanism including but not limited to: the redesign of the built environment, especially high rise commercial and residential structures, to improve quality of life and reduce harmful environmental impacts; the improvement of mass transit, as well as the expansion of transit-focused residential development; development of green infrastructure, from storm water management and drinking water systems to decentralized renewable electricity generation and green roofs; recycling and waste management; food quality and availability; urban agriculture; and open space development. Strategic approaches could include: advocacy and organizing; policy and regulatory and technical research and development; and public education.

Green Economy/Green Jobs

Despite the triple bottom line benefits of addressing unemployment, pollution-driven human health problems, and climate change, the transition to a green economy and the creation of green jobs has proceeded slowly. The RF Environment Program seeks projects that re-conceptualize the challenge to spur sustainable jobs, robust economic activity, and significant social equity benefits. Specific projects may include: creation of new capital vehicles that leverage both conventional and environmental value; the engagement of new partnerships between labor, business, anti-poverty groups, and environmental groups; creation of jobs and social benefits through innovative and scalable retrofits of residential and commercial buildings; or the promotion of green industry through policies and investments that drive the implementation of innovative renewable energy strategies and transportation systems.

Sustainable Drinking Water

The protection, and in some places the creation, of an adequate and accessible clean water supply is a global challenge of the first order. The challenge is inextricably linked to population growth and movement, as well as the current and potential impacts of climate disruption and competing demands for fresh water from agriculture and industry. Happily the visceral human connection with clean drinking water provides an opportunity to increase awareness of, and activism about, interconnected environmental issues.

The Foundation will consider breakthrough and replicable projects that seek to ensure that drinking water is clean and available, both domestically and globally. Areas of interest include but are not limited to: novel and improved water protection strategies and policies; efforts to create and deploy innovative new technologies; efforts to highlight corporate responsibility for water protection from a financially prudent, as well as a good citizenship, perspective; and the protection of water from extractive industries, including the growing threat of under-regulated hydraulic fracking. Strategies employed may include, but again are not limited to, demonstration projects, organizing and advocacy, policy and scientific research, public education, and media/communications, as well as unique approaches to catalyzing effective regulation and enforcement at the federal, state, and local levels.

Type & Size of Grants

Grants will range between $100,000 and $250,000 per year (with the possibility of larger grants for extraordinary innovations) and cover a period of one to three years.

To see our current grantees, please see the Katharine S. and Axel G. Rosin Fund.