Barr Foundation: Grants for Climate Change and Clean Energy

OVERVIEW: The Barr Foundation prioritizes Massachusetts-based environmental organizations, particularly those that address climate change. It invests in arts and culture, climate, and education.

IP TAKE: Barr primarily seeks to make Boston and Massachusetts more environmentally sustainable; however, the foundation also supports grantmaking at the regional and national levels.

PROFILE: Established in 1999, the Barr Foundation is one of the largest foundations in Massachusetts, with an asset base of more than $1.5 billion and an outlay of grants averaging nearly $60 million a year. The foundation seeks to "invest in human, natural, and creative potential, serving as thoughtful stewards and catalysts" and funds arts and culture, education, and climate.

Barr directs its climate change grantmaking through its climate program, which works to "advance solutions for clean energy, mobility, and resilient communities." Believing progress should occur from the "ground up," Barr works to "catalyze and advance solutions and leadership" across Boston, Massachusetts, and the United States. While it funds organizations beyond Boston, Barr prioritizes grantmaking to Boston-based organizations or those that directly service Boston. Its climate program focuses on two areas that it believes produces the most greenhouse gas emissions: 1) how people generate and use energy; and 2) human mobility. To learn more about its climate strategies and grantmaking priorities in each of these areas, explore Barr's Clean Energy and Mobility focus areas. The foundation states it wants to help Boston and Massachusetts meet or exceed their 2020 and 2050 goals for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. 

Barr grants range from a few thousand to over a million; however most grants are lower than $150,000. Past climate grantees include the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA), the Environmental League of Massachusetts, and the Conservation Law Foundation among many others. Past grantees beyond Boston include the Delta Institute and the Florida-based Funders Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities. Grantseekers are further encouraged to reach explore the foundation's grantee list.

Wherever organizations are based, they are welcome to reach out to the Barr Foundation at any time throughout the year. The first step is to complete an inquiry form, in which the applicant describes his or her organization and its mission and goals, via the website. Barr staff review each completed inquiry form and decide if it indicates a promising endeavor. If they are interested, the applicant receives a request to submit a complete proposal. For inquiries related to its Climate programs, grantseekers are best advised to email the appropriate program assistant.