Heinz Endowments: Grants for Climate and Energy

OVERVIEW: Heinz environmental grantmaking focuses on the health and sustainability of Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania; however, this also includes giving toward clean water and watershed protection.

IP TAKE: This large regional funder predominately views the environment through the lens of cities, specifically Pittsburgh, but is also deeply involved in protecting and restoring the state’s rivers. Heinz funds work related to coal and fracking pollution. The foundation only funds organizations in Pennsylvania.

PROFILE:  Led by Chair Teresa Heinz Kerry, the Heinz Endowments represents two separate funds, one founded by Howard Heinz, the other by Vira Heinz. With formidable combined assets of around $1.5 billion, Heinz is a powerhouse in Pennsylvania and its home base of Pittsburgh. The Endowments seek to "help [its] region thrive as a whole community, economically, ecologically, educationally and culturally, while advancing the state of knowledge and practice in the fields in which [it works]." It supports arts & culture, children & families, community & economic development, education, and environment.

Launched in 1994, the Heinz environment program funds projects and programs that address Pittsburgh's industrial history of Pittsburgh and its water and air pollution legacies while rendering the city more sustainable for the future. As a result, its environmental grantmaking is not strictly focused on conservation or energy, but a mix of urban sustainability and environmental health. It also supports some land protection of environmentally sensitive areas and parks. Climate change related grantmaking supports planning, innovative technologies, and technical assistance for green construction. It also supports smart development, urban revitalization, and green business development. Past grantees include 10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania and the Green Building Alliance. 

Heinz also heavily invests in reducing air pollution—from more of a public health standpoint, but with undeniable overlap in the areas of energy and climate. One of the program’s more prominent initiatives is the Breathe Project, an initiative to vastly improve Pittsburgh’s traditionally dismal air quality. Grantees include the Clean Water Fund  and Group Against Smog and Pollution.

Third, the foundation also funds efforts to increase clean energy and to reduce pollution and rehab damage from fossil fuel use. Past grantees include the Center for Coalfield Justice, which works to protect communities from the environmental and health threats from coal mining. In this last category, the Center for Sustainable Shale Development and the foundation came under fire from the environmental community. Former Heinz President Robert Vagt also had significant financial and professional ties to the oil and gas industry. The foundation has since ousted some of its leadership. 

Competition for Heinz funding is difficult, but the foundation accepts applications online. 


Search for staff contact info and bios in PeopleFinder (paid subscribers only).