OVERVIEW: The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation is a large, Michigan-based funder that makes around $10 million in environmental grants annually. Its interests include freshwater conservation, sustainable development, and clean energy.
IP TAKE: The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation is highly focused on the Midwest and Great Lakes with its conservation funding, with a lesser and shrinking priority being the Southeast. Water is at the heart of this program, but giving targets biodiverse and sensitive ecosystems.
PROFILE: The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation was founded in 1926, and has grown into a huge philanthropy, with more than $2.3 billion in assets and in the neighborhood of $100 million in grants annually. About 10% of those grants are environmental.
The environment program’s strategy is organized into four areas of giving:
- Addressing the Freshwater Challenge [Read Inside Philanthropy’s guide to Mott’s lakes and rivers giving here.]
- Transforming Development Finance
- Advancing Climate Change Solutions
- Special Initiatives
The environment program operates in North America with a goal of supporting groups dedicated to restoring and conserving freshwater ecosystems, with a special emphasis on the Midwest, and a lesser emphasis on the Southeast. Regarding the types of programs funded, there are a few categories.
Through its freshwater category, it gives to programs that strengthen the environmental community, or build the greater movement. Mott has a grassroots approach to environmental change, and wants to see a strong web of nonprofits working together at a high capacity in freshwater issues. As such, partnerships, subgrants and technical assistance shared between nonprofits working at different levels are all celebrated. And again, while water resources drive the program, there are a lot of grants to general conservation groups that stand to build the overall environmental cause in the region.
Through its development finance reform work, it supports efforts that support sustainable development and reduce environmental degradation. Its focus is mainly on South America, and monitoring international investment in the region to prevent development from swallowing up the landscape. Many of these grants go toward local watchdog groups in South America.
Through its climate change work, it works to advance clean energy solutions at the grassroots level, both in the US and abroad.
Finally, the foundation gives one-time grants to special conservation projects in the US and abroad.
You can access its interactive grantee database here to learn about past and current grantees.
The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation does accept unsolicited proposals, but it much prefers letters of inquiry submitted on its website first. Grantseekers should expect to hear a reply from a staff member within two to three weeks after submission.