Shelling Out Green for Green: The Alumni Donor as Conservationist

Billionaire Louis Bacon, founder of Moore Capital Management, has long been known for his conservation philanthropy. The Moore Charitable Foundation (MCF) was established in 1992, and Bacon now oversees the foundation with his wife Gabrielle. MCF has a number of affiliates, each of which protects land in a specific region. The Trinchera Blanca Foundation focuses on Colorado's San Luis Valley, for instance, where Bacon has protected a vast swath of land. The Orton Foundation, meanwhile, protects the lands of eastern North Carolina, a region where Bacon traces his ancestry.

Now, Bacon has helped establish a preservation fund in another space where he has historyhis alma mater, Middlebury College. Bacon, who graduated with the Class of 1979, recently partnered with his school to establish the Bread Loaf Preservation Fund.

The fund has several aims. One of them is to preserve and maintain Middlebury's Bread Loaf Campus, where the college hosts its esteemed summer graduate programs in English. More intriguing, though, is how the fund also protects surrounding forests and fields. Through the Bread Loaf Preservation Fund, 2,100 acres will be protected through a conservation easement.

Bacon received his undergraduate degree in American literature from Middlebury where, in his words, he “spent many memorable days on or near Bread Loaf campus, hunting in the fall, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the winter, hiking in the spring."

And therein lies an interesting insight about the different ways that the college experience can move a person. A fair number of schools are located in beautiful natural settings, particularly upscale liberal arts colleges, and these settings can imprint deeply on students. Later, when they're thinking about giving back, a conservation pitch could well be the winning ticket. 

All for the better if conservation is wrapped up in a high-brow past. The poet Robert Frost was deeply involved with Bread Loaf during its early stages, and Middlebury owns and maintains the Robert Frost Farm, a national historic site also to be conserved through this Bacon-Middlebury partnership.

It's worth noting that the land that now houses Middlebury's Bread Loaf Campus was itself created by a bequest from Vermont environmentalist Joseph Battell. Bacon credits the college for fueling his own environmental advocacy: "Middlebury College helped shape my values and instilled in me a deep appreciation for nature and the environment.” Again, this goes to show the impact personal motivations can have in giving. 

One other environmental tidbit about Middlebury: The college has long provided a home base to climate crusader Bill McKibben, who is the Schumann Distinguished Scholar in Environmental Studies, as we have discussed in an earlier post

It's unclear how much of the Bacons' own money was put into the Bread Loaf Preservation Fund, but the gift is in line with his past land preservation efforts.

Bacon serves on the board of trustees at Middlebury and has previously been a donor to the school. Recently, Bacon gave $3.5 million to the Harvard Kennedy School’s Center for Public Leadership to form the Louis Bacon Environmental Leadership Program.

Related - Louis Bacon Goes From Land to Leadership