Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment: Bay Area Grants

OVERVIEW: This Oakland-based funder doesn't have an endowment and supports itself through donations, grants, and cy pres money. It's primarily oriented toward environmental and health related causes through a large number of programs, but also supports a few other civic interests. 

FUNDING AREAS: Environment, consumer health, public health, youth leadership, environmental justice

IP TAKE: Some of the best opportunities here for Bay Area grantseekers are in watershed protection, local wildlands and environmental conservation. Navigating the different funds at this foundation can be overwhelming, but don’t be afraid to reach out to the executive director with questions.

PROFILE: The Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment raises money for grants, but it also works directly in local schools and the community and engages at policy research and advocacy at all levels. Unlike many foundations that have an endowment, this is a grantmaking public charity that has to raise the money it gives away for grants each year. Its funding comes from donations, grants from other foundations, legal restitution payments and cy pres funds.

This Oakland, CA-based foundation was established by Jill Ratner and Tim Little in 1992 in memory of Rose Ratner. The foundation’s grantmaking programs are organized into separate funds, each with its own mission and geographic scope. State and federal courts have appointed the foundation to be a trustee of over 300 restitution and cy pres funds that are tied to consumer and environmental issues.

Pooled grantmaking is made in partnership with other foundations, such as the Northern California Environmental Grassroots Fund. The Rose Foundation also works with individual donors to establish donor advised funds. Finally, fiscal sponsorship grantmaking goes towards fresh ideas, emerging projects and the creation of new organizations.  

Environmental grants are a huge part of this funder’s strategy. The foundation has two grassroots-oriented funds in California, watershed-oriented funds in California, Washington and Oregon, county-specific placed-based funds, and other specialized funds. The foundation also awards small grassroots grants to community-based groups that had $100,000 or less in expenses the previous fiscal year. There are two grassroots funds in California: the Northern California Environmental Grassroots Fund and the California Wildlands Grassroots Fund.

The foundation also supports groups that promote issues of consumer privacy and financial education. Your project may be a fit for the foundation’s consumer financial education fund, consumer privacy rights fund, or consumer products fund. Finally, the Rose Foundation has partnered with the David and Lucile Packard, James Irvine, and the William and Flora Hewlett foundations on the Community Leadership Project to build the capacity of community organizations that serve low-income people and communities of color. The Rose Foundation is supporting nine San Francisco Bay Area organizations over a three-year period as part of this partnership.

This is a foundation that likes to work with groups that promote civic participation, especially by traditionally disempowered communities, and alliances between diverse interests. In a recent year, the foundation contributed over $1.7 million to grants. Check the funder's website for the most up-to-date financial information. You can learn about past grantees in the Grants Database and sort by grantee name, fund, or year. Check out the How to Apply page for instructions for online grant submissions and how to use the foundation’s online grant system. Several of its grantmaking funds are on this system.

To learn more about Rose Foundation grantmaking programs, contact the executive director, Tim Little at or 510-658-0702. There are a lot of different funds and specialized categories of grantmaking at this foundation, so take some time to study the funder’s website and contact the staff for any needed clarifications.


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