Wells Fargo: Grants for Climate Change

OVERVIEW: Wells Fargo Foundation invests in education, housing, community development, the environment, and arts and culture. Specific focuses and agendas vary by state and region. Its climate change and energy prioritizes clean technology and innovation, and its own cleantech incubator. 

IP TAKE: Wells Fargo Foundation’s giving is subdivided by state, and sometimes also by regions within those states. Of the 44 states where the foundation gives, the vast majority of them emphasize arts and culture. 

PROFILE:  Wells Fargo Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the big banking and financial services institution, seeks to create "solutions for stronger, more resilient communities." Its corporate sister remains the fourth largest bank in the United States; it made $22 billion in profit in 2013. Wells Fargo continues to undergo investigation by the SEC and federal government for its lending practices, before and after the financial crash. Its grantmaking invests in the environment, veterans, disaster relief, sustainable housing and ownership, financial education, and education.

The foundation conducts its climate change grantmaking through its Environmental Grant program, which seeks to "accelerate a transition to a “greener” economy, break down barriers, and positively impact our environment." In 2012, the company unveiled its new environmental goals, which include a commitment to give $100 million in grants by 2020. The company’s environmental giving has two main avenues to which to apply: Resilient Communities site, which is a partnership through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and its Innovation Incubator (IN2) program. Its IN2 program funds a mix of renewable energy, energy efficiency, green buildings, alternative transportation, water, and sustainable agriculture. IN2 ultimately seeks to create scalable solutions for a low carbon economy, and one-time grants range between $50,000 and $200,000. In addition, Wells Fargo also finances green businesses. In addition to the $100 million in grants, the company intends to provide $30 billion in financing to “environmentally beneficial” business opportunities.

Wells Fargo grants range from $25,000 to about $200,000. Past grantees include accelerator/incubators such as the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator, Rice University, and UC Berkeley’s Cleantech to Market Commercialization Program. The foundation has also funded  Santa Clara University and Boston University, which received a grant to conduct energy efficiency training for urban housing. 

Currently application to Wells Fargo is by invitation only.

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