11th Hour Project: Grants for Climate & Energy

OVERVIEW: The 11th Hour Project’s climate and energy program seeks to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and accelerate the use of renewable energy in the United States.

IP TAKE: T11th Hour is not one of the more transparent funders out there. The best bet for would-be grantees is to reach out to program staff and highlight not only how their project aligns with 11th Hour’s mission, but demonstrate how it addresses the relationship between human rights and the environment. Most of its climate grants support nonprofits building cross-sector coalitions and mobilizing them to press for long-term policy and market-based reforms. 

PROFILE: In 2006, Wendy and Eric Schmidt established the Schmidt Family Foundation with the intent of advancing “the wiser use of energy and natural resources,” and to “empower communities to build resilient systems for food, water, and human resources.” Prior to launching the Schmidt Family Foundation, Wendy Schmidt created the 11th Hour Project. While the 11th Hour Project is a self-governing outfit, it is considered a subsidiary of the Schmidt Family Foundation. It shares the Schmidts' funding interests, and awards grants through its Renewable Energy & ClimateEcological Agriculture, and Human Rights programs.

The 11th Hour Project has grown since its 2005 debut and is now a self-governing operation headquartered in Palo Alto, California. It fosters sustainable use of water, energy, and food resources. Ecologically sound agriculture, marine conservation, and preserving the island of Nantucket, Massachusetts, are a few of its non-energy priorities.

The foundation's Climate & Energy program has two priorities: "reducing our reliance on fossil fuels, and upping our use of renewable energy." Its team seeks grantseekers that work towards renewable technologies, energy conservation, and upgrades to the grid infrastructure. Its grantees tend to involve environmental organizations and non-environmentalist partners, such as farmers or labor activists, all working hand-in-hand to organize concrete improvements in public policy and everyday business practice. Past grantees include the American Lung Association’s California chapter, which received funding for mobilizing the health-care community behind climate-change policy. It has also funded the California Climate and Agricultural Network, the BlueGreen Alliance, and the Catskill Mountainkeeper. 

Grants range from $15,000 to about $1.25 million. Most of its grantees are U.S. operations with a limited number of grants each year going overseas. It also prioritizes coalition builders. 

To get a broader sense of the types of human rights NGOs benefiting from 11th Hour’s support, prospective grantees should read its grantees list. The 11th Hour does not accept unsolicited proposals or letters of inquiry.


  • Wendy Schmidt, Founder

  • Amy Rao, President, 11th Hour Project

  • Joe Sciortino, Executive Director

  • Maria Koulouris, Program Director, Human Rights

  • Erin Strain, Program Manager, Human Rights

  • Lauren Davis, Program Manager, Human Rights