WestWind Foundation: Grants for Climate and Energy

OVERVIEW: WestWind is a small, Virginia-based funder that invests in the environment and reproductive health and rights. Its environmental grantmaking predominately funds projects to combat climate change, with emphases on the American South and stopping new coal plants. 

IP TAKE: While somewhat regional, this funder supports groups across all of North America. WestWind prioritizes groups that build public support and partner with business. 

PROFILE: Founded by Edward and Janet Miller with wealth derived from the former’s Caribbean-focused, express shipping company, the WestWind Foundation seeks to "fight climate change and improve access to reproductive health care." It evenly invests in reproductive health and rights, as well as the environment.

WestWind conducts grantmaking for climate change through its environment program, which exclusively focuses on the climate. The foundation take a broad approach to its climate change grantmaking preferring to support non-profit organizations across the Southeast United States in order to "build public support for immediate action on climate change." While it considers a variety of strategies, the foundation prioritizes promoting "state and/or regional collaborative action through creative partnerships with business; launch[ing] grassroots campaigns and educational efforts, particularly to stop the construction of new coal-fired power plants; or enabl[ing] state and/or local government action by working with local leaders." 

Grants have a mean of about $42,000; occasionally, some grants reach about $300,000. Past grantees include the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, the Alaska Center for the Environment, the Alaska Conservation Foundation, and national groups like Earthjustice and Greenpeace.

A small foundation, WestWind features only two trustees in the Millers, and very few staff. In fact, Roxana Bonnell, who came from the Open Society Institute, is the only program staffer, aside from a consultant working in reproductive issues. Applicants should monitor the group's website  to determine timing on letters of inquiry, as the foundation only accepts them during certain windows of time.


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