Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation: Grants for Climate Change

OVERVIEW: The Moore Foundation's biggest environmental focus is on conservation. But Moore gives money to various organizations that are tackling environmental and energy issues from different angles, particularly through scientific research.

IP TAKE: Moore is a proactive funder with its own agenda. The foundation doesn't accept unsolicited proposals, so getting in the door can be tough. On the other hand, grants are spread pretty widely to grantees that include small groups and universities. Another issue grantseekers need to keep in mind is that Moore does not have a specific climate change grantmaking program. Related grants are typically awarded through its Environmental Conservation program.

PROFILE: The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation was founded in 2000, but after only a few years in existence has it become one of the top environmental funders in the United States. The foundation draws on the multibillion-dollar fortune of Gordon Moore, a pioneer in the early semiconductor industry and co-founder of Intel. Moore doesn't always give to climate issues at the level of the Hewlett and Packard foundations, but the foundation has still made significant grants in the area.

Like Packard, Moore is a member of the Climate and Land Use Alliance (CLUA), a collaborative giving initiative that deals with how practices such as deforestation and agriculture are contributing to climate change. This area dovetails nicely with the Moore Foundation's interest in stopping deforestation in developing countries, noting the Amazon Basin as its overriding focus. Within CLUA, Moore's contribution has hinged on protecting vast expanses of forest from being razed and thereby adding to the buildup of carbon in the atmosphere. Specifically, Moore has funded efforts to allow the protection of international forests to be credited toward a state's carbon reduction.

The other climate change area funded by the foundation is scientific research, which is not surprising given Moore's background. The foundation is a huge science funder, and in particular has given hundreds of millions of dollars to Gordon Moore's alma mater, the California Institute of Technology, or Caltech. Those hundreds of millions of dollars are spread across a number of programs and disciplines at Caltech, including the school's Center for Sustainable Energy Research and its Sunlight to Solar Fuels via Water Photo-oxidation program. The foundation gives quite a bit to climate change projects, but mostly related to its other interests in conservation and science.

Beyond its long-term initiatives related to land use and science, Moore funds an ever-changing variety of special projects, some of which relate to climate change. The looser guidelines for special projects can provide an opening for groups that are not working on deforestation or scientific research.

Finally, it must be noted that for all his giving so far through the foundation, Gordon Moore remains a living donor, now in his 80s, with an estimated net worth of $7.2 billion. So there are huge resources waiting in the wings here, and the foundation's spending — how much, on what, and where — may easily change, with big new initiatives added. This a funder to keep a close eye on if you're in the climate field.


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