Meet Lazar, a Funder Keeping the Pacific Northwest Green

Lazar is a Portland-based family foundation giving about million in grants annually to conservation groups in the Pacific Northwest. Green nonprofits in the region should definitely get to know this funder; here’s a little crash course. 

The Lazar Foundation is a small funder giving almost entirely to nonprofits in the Northwest, with something of a preference for work in its home state of Oregon. Based in Portland, it gives to a lot of the key local environmental groups, such as Oregon League of Conservation Voters and Bark. And while the major players get some attention for their work in the Northwest, a lot of small, local nonprofits in Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and California are also on Lazar’s list. 

Related - Lazar Foundation: Grants for Conservation

While giving is limited and the funder has a small staff, grants are in the $10K to $20K range, meaning there’s actually a decent-sized, and pretty diverse list of recipients. And it's open to letters of inquiry, so long as the geography and interests overlap, of course. Here are few other key things to know about Lazar: 

1. It has roots on the East Coast. Jack and Helen Lazar started the foundation based on wealth from their clothing company Kimberly Knitwear, which popularized the knit dress and other garments in the 1950s and 1960s. The company was based in Manhattan and the couple, since passed, were living in New Jersey. Their son Bill Lazar, who is now president, lives in Portland, presumably the impetus for the current geographic focus. 

2. Its focus is conservation, but also movement building. We see a lot of biodiversity, land and water conservation projects funded by Lazar. But another significant focus is on strengthening the environmental movement, whether that means broadening its allies or building its capacity. One example is funding for Back Country Hunters and Anglers based in Joseph, Oregon to engage with hunters on forest protection. 

3. Its ED is plugged into the Portland environmental community. Executive Director Sybil Ackerman-Munson got her law degree from Lewis and Clark and has spent years working with environmental groups. She was previously legislative affairs director for OLCV, and has also worked for Audubon Society of Portland. She’s also sat on a few Oregon state task forces and advisory boards. In other words, she's definitely made a name for herself in the area's green community.

To learn more about this player in Pacific Northwest environmentalism, check out our full IP profile here and the foundation’s website here.