Kendeda Fund: Grants for Environmental Conservation

OVERVIEW: Kendeda invests in sustainability, the environment, and local grants in Atlanta and Montana.

IP TAKE: Kendeda’s take on the environment and conservation involves a mix of justice and sustainable living, while building populist support for the movement. While the foundation has become more transparent recently, it does not accept proposals or inquiries. 

OVERVIEW: Established in 1993, Kendeda broadly invests in "transformative leaders and ideas." Though it has become one of the most active and influential mid-level environmental funders, for more than 20 years, it operated with almost no public profile. Donor Diana Blank values her privacy, living a quiet lifestyle between Atlanta and Montana. Kendeda seeks to support "community leaders and underrepresented voices, emphasizing the connection between equity and the environment," and in doing so, invests in VeteransAtlanta EquityGirls' RightsGun Violence PreventionMontanaPeople, Place and Planet, and Southeast Sustainability

Kendeda is driven by a passion for sustainability and builds its appeal and popularity among different stakeholders including workers, faith groups, youth and local governments. Much of that involves projects that directly or indirectly address climate change. It conducts environmental and conservation grantmaking through its MontanaPeople, Place and Planet, and Southeast Sustainability programs. Each program aims to protect the environment, create sustainability, and educate the public. In addition, each reflects separate grant guidelines and goals. 

Kendeda grants range from a few thousand dollars to over two million. It supports both small and large organizations; however, it prioritizes established ones. In addition, each of the programs reflects different geographic restraints, the Montana program obviously restricting grantmaking to Montana. It currently gives between $40 million and $50 million annually, having given more than $500 million in total; however, it seeks to mostly spend down by 2024. Past grantees include Green For All, MIT’s Community Innovators Lab, UMass Lowell’s Center for Sustainable Production, the Tides Center, and Georgia Tech, which has received $30 million to create for a groundbreaking facility on campus.

The Kendeda Fund has accomplished major strides in transparency, but is still pretty difficult to access. It does not accept inquiries of any kind, and only makes grants invited by its small program staff. Connections in Atlanta and a community-based approach are key.


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