Annenberg Foundation: Grants for Climate Change

OVERVIEW: The Annenberg Foundation makes a significant number of grants for environmental work in the Los Angeles area, with some of that funding going toward energy, sustainability and climate change. In addition, through some of its other focus areas, it supports education on environmental issues.

IP TAKE: Annenberg’s environmental priorities are not specifically about climate, so most of the giving in this realm is connected to city sustainability, and protecting resources in its geographic focus of Southern California. 

PROFILE: The Annenberg Foundation is a family foundation that provides massive amounts of support to nonprofits in a large number of focus areas, including media, education, health care and arts and culture. It also makes a lot of grants toward the environment, including support for climate change prevention and efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change. While it does support some select national and international efforts, most grant making is focused on its home base of Southern California.

The Foundation's approach follows an increasingly common "investment" model of grantmaking, and it tends to fund individuals and groups who have a strong community focus. That said, it openly expresses a willingness to take some risks with grassroots and emerging nonprofits, as long as they are offering innovative and dynamic approaches to solving huge problems, including environmental degradation and climate change. Annenberg’s giving is also less clearly delineated than many other large funders, to some extent influenced by the interests of head of the family Wallis Annenberg. 

That said, the majority of its grants are based in the Los Angeles region, and concerned with improving how well that region functions. The environment gets a decent-sized chunk of that giving, with more than $200 million in grants going to the cause over the past four years. It isn't one of those foundations heavily devoted to climate, but like most funders with green programs, energy and sustainability are on the radar. Most of this type of giving involves sustainable communities, as well as how climate and energy extraction affect the wellbeing of the region.

One example of this has been Annenberg’s work in hydraulic fracturing. The foundation has been making grants to stop the spread of fracking in California and protect the state’s water from gas drilling. Examples of grantees working on this issue are Food & Water Watch and the Center for Biological Diversity. 

Annenberg lends a lot of support to groups and initiatives that are designed to educate the public on climate change, including its causes and effects. For example, it provided considerable financial support to create a learning course entitled "The Habitable Planet: A Systems Approach to Environmental Science” which is designed to assist teachers and undergraduate college students in environmental science, and give them more and better content in their classrooms. The Annenberg Space for Photography has also chronicled the effects of climate change all over the world through pictures.

But there are other examples of direct grants to nonprofits in the areas of conservation and climate change in recent years including the following: 

  • $500,000 to the UCLA Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences to study climate change in the Sierra Nevada region.
  • $500,000 to the Natural Resources Defense Council supporting its Creating a Greener Los Angeles campaign.
  • $152,678 to Climate Resolve to raise awareness of climate change’s impact on the water supply in Los Angeles.
  • $250,000 to the Better World Fund in support of its Energy Future Coalition, a partnership between businesses, labor and environmental groups that addresses sustainable energy use.
  • $250,000 to Green LA to support its work in transforming LA into a more environmentally sustainable city.
  • $100,000 to Clean the Air supporting the organization’s public education campaign on improving air quality improvement.

The Foundation also provides significant support to Heal the (Santa Monica) Bay. Over a three-year period, it has granted $325,000 to support programs dedicated educating the public on environmental education, including marine conservation, biodiversity, and the effects of climate change. In the past, Annenberg granted $100,000 to TransFormCA to promote policies and investment to achieve Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32) targets for greenhouse gas emission reduction. 

KEY PEOPLE:

  • Cinny Kennard, Executive Director
  • Marsha Bonner, Director of Programs, Community Grantmaking & Special Initiative

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