The Winners So Far in Wells Fargo’s Adventure in Green Giving

Wells Fargo is a huge bank with a huge corporate giving program, making $275 million in grants last year. The company foundation amped up environmental giving starting in 2012 with a goal of granting $100 million by 2020. Here’s where it’s gone so far.

Like many corporate foundations, Wells Fargo Foundation has a track record of making community grants, focusing on education and disadvantaged populations. Like many banks, Wells Fargo (which made $22 billion in profits in 2013) has been working on repairing its reputation on Main Street since the financial collapse. But the funder also has a focus on the environment, which got a huge boost in 2012 when the foundation announced the $100 million commitment

The program is still driven by a goal of building stronger communities, but through sustainable agriculture, conservation of land and resources, restoration of urban ecosystems and clean energy infrastructure. There are two grant programs within the commitment so far, one administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and another for clean energy technology. As a result, Wells Fargo in 2012 made around $8 million in grants, an 80 percent increase from the previous year. 

In 2013, the NFWF program gave out $3 million, and the latest round, just announced this month, sent another $3 million across 54 grants.

Grants from the NFWF program (see full list and details in pdf) cover a mix of topics, including several of your more typical conservation projects run by groups like The Nature Conservancy and local stewardship groups. This covers projects like wetlands restoration in Seattle, river cleanup in Austin, and urban waterfront restoration in Delaware.  

Other urban projects include the renovation of an abandoned commercial facility for hydroponics agriculture in St. Louis, and the construction of a one-acre community garden site in New Mexico. There are also a number of programs for at-risk youth, and for education, including for young people and for neighborhood residents on sustainability.

Based on the recent round of grants, most amounts are in the $25,000 to $50,000 range. But they do hit the six-figure mark, such as a $100,000 grant in North Carolina for an invasive species management strategy in one nature preserve. 

Meanwhile, the last round of $2 million from the Clean Technology and Innovation program made grants to clean tech incubator and accelerator programs, and research projects at universities. Winning projects pursue scalable solutions to reduce carbon use. Past grantees include Rice University, receiving $100,000 for its support of startups. Another $100,000 went to Hass School of Business for campus research on environmental technologies.

Each program makes annual calls for proposals. See details at the links. 

Wells Fargo Foundation: Bay Area Grants

Wells Fargo Foundation IP Profile

Wells Fargo Environmental Grants Program