Lazar Foundation: Grants for Conservation

OVERVIEW: The Lazar Foundation is an active environmental funder in the Pacific Northwest, giving almost a million a year to conservation, biodiversity, and strengthening the environmental movement in regional states (except Alaska). 

IP TAKE: Green groups that fit the areas of interest and geographic requirements may send an LOI on a rolling basis; however, proposals must be solicited. Applicants should submit their LOI and wait to be asked to submit a full proposal.

PROFILE: Established in 1956, the Lazar Foundation is based in Portland, Oregon, home to the couple’s son Bill Lazar, who now serves as president. Jack and Helen Lazar made a name for themselves in the fashion world in the 1950s and 1960s by popularizing the knit dress, under their brand Kimberly Knitwear. Jack Lazar had worked in a knitting mill starting at age 15, and when he returned from service in World War II, he and wife Helen became fashion trendsetters for a time. Other trustees include Michael and Jeanne Morency, the latter the couple’s daughter. The foundation's giving has evolved over time. Today Lazar is "dedicated to funding innovative and strategic projects that protect the environment in the Pacific Northwest."

The Lazar Foundation's conservation grantmaking invests in:

  • Conservation of large, biologically significant terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.

  • Preservation of biological diversity.

  • Projects that broaden the environmental movement.

  • Projects that strengthen or increase the capacity of the environmental movement’s ability to develop, shape, and communicate its message.

There are some areas they will not fund, which includes work on toxics, land trusts, urban projects, film, or other environmental education projects. 

Grants range from $10,000 to $20,000; however, established organizations may receive up to $100,000, as in the case of Pew Charitable Trusts. Past grantees also include the Audubon Society of Portland and Advocates for the West, based in Idaho. While the foundation makes grants beyond Oregon, its grantmaking prioritizes the Pacific Northwest. Here’s a sampling of some recent grants.

The staff decide on LOIs within a month and, if invited, they have an application form online. Grants are awarded a few times a year. Lazar discourages phone calls since its staff is modest, but they accept letters of inquiry by email, so long as applicants match up with their stated interests. 


Search for staff contact info and bios in PeopleFinder (paid subscribers only).