Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation: Grants for Animals & Wildlife

OVERVIEW: The DiCaprio Foundation, overseen by the California Community Foundation, is becoming a major philanthropic player in conservation, wildlife and oceans, through grants and public education campaigns.  

IP TAKE: The foundation's animal and wildlife conservation grantmaking is not restricted geographically, but prioritizes animals endangered by irresponsible fishing practices and poaching. It also appears to invest where the need to preserve biodiversity is greatest. Past interests include Nepalese tigers, African elephants, and sharks. 

PROFILE: Perennial Academy Award runner-up Leonardo DiCaprio has long been a devoted environmentalist, and founded the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation in 1998. The foundation, a component fund of the California Community Foundation, is dedicated to "the long-term health and well-being of all Earth's inhabitants." It supports projects across the globe that "build climate resiliency, protect vulnerable wildlife, and restore balance to threatened ecosystems and communities." The foundation invests in six programs: Wildlife and Landscape ConservationMarine and Ocean ConservationClimate ChangeIndigenous RightsTransforming California, and Innovative Solutions

The foundation conducts its animal and wildlife grantmaking through its Wildlife and Landscape Conservation program, which "scale[s] projects protecting critical eco-regions around the world and connecting often isolated islands of habitat to restore threatened wildlife populations." The program's interests in animal welfare focuses on iconic animals, vulnerable ecosystems, and ocean protection. In particular, LDF tends to go after international trade that threatens sensitive species like sharks and elephants, but also emphasizes protecting ecosystems, both land and sea. 

Grants are generally larger, sometimes in the millions, and generally support established, iconic organizations. DiCaprio himself sits on the board of several such organizations. For instance, he sits on the board of WWF, the NRDC, and the International Fund for Animal Wlefare. While LDF does not prioritize specific wildlife or animal species, it prioritizes grantmaking to iconic wildlife. Past grantees include established, large organizations like the World Wildlife Fund and Oceana. Applicants can also explore past grantees here

The best way for grantseekers to contact LDF is through its online inquiry form or through the California Community Foundation, or Executive Director Justin Winters. However, contacting celebrity funders like this one often requires serious networking, so consider discussing with staff or board members from other environmental players with which the team interacts, whether that is the WWF, NRDC, IFAW, or the Gorilla Organization. 

There is not regarding how to apply for funding, which suggests LDF does not accept unsolicited proposals. 

PEOPLE: 

  • Justin Winters, Executive Director
  • Leonardo DiCaprio, Donor

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