Marisla Foundation: Grants for Conservation

OVERVIEW: An environmentally engaged nonprofit born of oil wealth, Marisla launched in 1986 from some very unlikely beginnings. It has been a champion for the Earth ever since then. Preserving rainforests, restricting human and wildlife exposure to toxic chemicals, and protecting habitats in the American West, Latin America, and southeast Asia are a few of its many areas of interest.

IP TAKE: From its website, its "primary emphasis is on marine resources conservation with a geographic focus on the western North America, Chile, and the western Pacific. The Environment Program also supports the search for solutions to health threats caused by toxic chemicals."

PROFILE: Anne Getty Earheart comes from a line of oil executives—J. Paul Getty, founder of Getty Oil, was her grandfather. But the apple fell a bit far from the tree in this case, as Earhart decided to use her oil-based inheritance to start the nonprofit Marisla Foundation. From its debut in 1986, Marisla has been issuing grants for both humanitarian and environmental causes, with a strong focus on natural habitat conservation and sustainable management of ecosystems.

The foundation now maintains two official grant programs, one of which is the Environmental Program. U.S. and international projects are both within its scope of operations, though it gives first dibs to a few key regions: Latin America, especially Chile; Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific; and the North American West, particularly California, the foundation’s home state.

The grant amounts vary widely, from $20,000 on the low end to $750,000 or more at the high end. Some examples include a grant for over $100,000 that it gave recently to the Bolsa Chica Land Trust for protecting wetlands in Orange County, California, and regular awards of around $100,000 to the Endangered Habitats League, which leads habitat protection and sustainable land-use initiatives throughout California. For an example on the international side, the foundation has given $40,000 to the Belize Audubon Society to lead conservation, infrastructure improvement, and long-range planning discussions for the national wildlife sanctuaries Half Moon Caye and the Blue Hole Natural Monument.

The Amazon region is also an area of great interest for Marisla. It recently issued $125,000 in one year to the Amazon Conservation Team for working with indigenous and local communities in the Amazon on conservation and sustainable development.

Marisla seems to be very favorable toward certain strategies irrespective of locale. Education initiatives and projects that bring nature to the public are among these. The foundation gave $70,000 to Conservation del Territorio Insular Mexicano for organizing educational activities of the Northwest Mexico Environmental Information Center and for establishing an education- and outreach-oriented Community Center for Sustainability and Coastal Management in Baja, California. It has also given the Chilean nonprofit Fundacion Ottway a $40,000 grant for a comprehensive program of penguin conservation and environmental tourism and education on the island of Chiloe in southern Chile. Another $30,000 grant went to the California League of Conservation Voters for an Education Fund to raise public environmental awareness.

Other grantees have been awarded to steer business and commercial practices in a more sustainable direction. Grants for managing and reducing the use of toxic chemicals are also in Marisla’s repertoire.

All grant seekers with relevant projects are welcome to apply. Just pay attention to the calendar, because Marisla only accepts applications during four 60-day time periods throughout the year. The first one is February 15-April 15, the second is May 15-July 15, and the third and fourth are August 15-October 15 and November 15-January 15. Start the application process by logging onto the website during any of those four application periods and completing the online eligibility quiz, which will verify that your organization meets the criteria. If you do, then you will receive instructions on where and how to submit your proposal. You can also email Adminstrator Glenda S. Menges if you have questions.

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