Summerlee Foundation: Grants for Animals and Wildlife

OVERVIEW: The Summerlee Foundation is dedicated to a wide range of animal welfare causes, funding projects involving both wildlife and domesticated animals throughout the United States, Canada, the British Isles, and Mexico through its Animal Protection Program. It's particularly interested in dog and cat sterilization and vaccination programs, and preserving and rehabbing threatened wildlife.

IP TAKE: Summerlee has only a moderate-sized endowment but a diverse set of priorities, and it really likes to spread its money around. Review its funding priorities carefully, and if you're a fit, you must contact the Director of the Animal Protection Program before applying.

PROFILE: The Summerlee Foundation was established in 1988 by lifelong animal advocate Annie Lee Warren Roberts, who made it her goal to help alleviate pain, fear, and suffering in homeless animals and captive wildlife. Roberts was known nationally as a leader in the field of animal welfare, having received the Founders Medal for service to animals in 1984, as well as the Animal Protection Institute’s Animal Philanthropist of the Year Award in 1989. She passed away in 1990 at the age of 94, with the foundation carrying on her legacy.

The Summerlee Foundation has an unusual dual focus of animal welfare and the preservation of Texas history, with an approximately equal amount of funding going towards each program area. The Animal Protection Program oversees all of Sumerlee’s animal-welfare funding. Its areas of interest are many and extend both to pets and to animals in the wild, alike.

On the domesticated animal side, the Animal Protection Program issues awards to many animal-rescue organizations, groups that find new homes for abandoned companion animals, and organizations confronting cruelty to animals. The challenges that Earth’s wildlife face from climate change, overhunting, and disease are program priorities, too, and the foundation funds numerous wildlife sanctuaries to address them.

Sumerlee funds different causes in different places. In the United States, it funds groups that work with domestic cats, but its grants for projects involving domestic dogs are limited to Latin America. Summerlee’s funding for wildlife is open to all of the above locales, on the other hand. And it emphasizes projects that use advocacy and ethical research to alleviate suffering in mountain lions, bobcats, coyotes, and bears.

One notable recipient of a grant is the Texas-based Animal Alliance of Galveston County, to whom Summerlee gave a grant for a comprehensive program of animal sterilizations, veterinary care, humane euthanasia, and animal rescues in Mexico. Another past grant went out to Saving Animals Across Borders, a Houston nonprofit, for its training and oversight of animal sterilization and euthanasia in the border cities of Monterrey, Juarez, and Patzcuaro. You can see more funded programs here.

Also of note: there is the possibility of multi-year funding, once a grantee demonstrates effectiveness with the use of one grant and has put in the time and effort to build a working relationship.

While the range of projects Summerlee funds is broad, it has a set of specific guidelines and program areas that it tends not to stray from. The most important to note is that it only funds projects in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and the British Isles.

Also, emergency grants are not in this foundation’s offerings. You can count on Sumerlee for program-development grants and grants for seed money, matching or challenge support, building renovations, equipment, research, and technical assistance.

However, a second philanthropic operation that Robert founded in her last few years of life does. It’s called the Anne Lee Roberts Emergency Animal Rescue Service fund, and it exists primarily for animals that have been abused, neglected, or abandoned. This fund is now managed by the Humane Society of the United States.