Cornell Douglas Foundation: Grants for Conservation

OVERVIEW: The Cornell Douglas Foundation is a small foundation that funds projects and efforts around environmental health and justice, land conservation, sustainability of resources, mountaintop removal mining, and watershed protection. It accepts proposals year round.

IP TAKE: If you’re looking for a small amount of extra cash to put toward an environmental project somewhere in the United States, this funder is worth a close look—especially if you're a progressive activist outfit. 

PROFILE: A small operation situated in Bethesda, Maryland, the Cornell Douglas Foundation has been advocating for resource sustainability, environmental stewardship, and the health of ecosystems everywhere since its founding in 2006. It’s not so well known in the nonprofit world, but its name gained some traction in West Virginia when it gave grants to aid the response to the infamous Elk River chemical spill, which left tens of thousands of residents of Charleston, West Virginia, without safe drinking water.

The Cornell Douglas Foundation is run by Ann Cornell. She is the granddaughter of Henry A. Wallace, who is remembered as as FDR's Secretary of Agriculture, his vice president, and then an independent progressive candidate for president in 1948. What's less well-known is that Wallace also made a fortune by developing hybrid seeds and founding the first commercial hybrid seed company back in 1926.

The Cornell Douglas Foundation accepts applications throughout the year, but only if they arrive by regular mail. It doesn’t accept applications by email or fax. And don’t expect a big windfall of award money. Most of its grants are small, ranging from $5,000 to $15,000 tops. More importantly, read over the foundation's grant application check list very carefully, it is very specific and goes through the foundation's likes and dislikes. For example, addressing cover letters to the president, executive director or administrative director falls into the 'like' category. Addressing cover letters with generic salutations such as 'to whom it may concern,' on the other hand, "will likely receive the briefest of review," according to the foundation.

PEOPLE:

  • Ann Douglas, President
  • Alex Cornell, Director
  • Holly Cornell, Director

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