Robert W. Woodruff Foundation: Grants for Environmental Conservation

OVERVIEW: The Robert W. Woodruff Foundation was established by a Coca-Cola CEO, also an avid outdoorsman, who established a 29,000-acre quail-hunting reserve in the 1920s. The foundation invests in large-scale conservation and natural resource stewardship efforts in the Atlanta metro area, and throughout Georgia.

IP TAKE: The Woodruff Foundation has a Georgia-specific mission. Only apply for funding if your project will somehow benefit nature areas within the state. It only supports grantmaking beyond George that benefits Georgia from without in some significant way. While the foundation prioritizes health grantmaking, it makes sizable grants benefitting conservation efforts.

PROFILE: Founded in 1937 by a twentieth-century Coca-Cola CEO and environmentalist, the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation sits atop a large pile of cash that it shares exclusively with recipients in its home state of Georgia. Woodruff’s asset base, which totals $2.8 billion, makes it the state’s largest private foundation by far. It is one of the state’s top grant makers, as well, with annual giving that surpasses $115 million in most years. Its grants fund a full range of causes including health, education, cultural activities, public affairs, human services, and environmental conservation.

Through its environmental conservation program, the foundation tends to support well-established organizations that have innovative projects in need of funding. Making up a significant portion of its grantmaking, environmental conservation receives consistent support. The program’s center piece centers on the Joseph W. Jones Ecological Research Center, which is a legacy of Mr. Woodruff’s lifelong love for the outdoors. It focuses on the “science of natural resource management through programs in conservation, research and education.”

The Foundation’s investments in the environment make up a significant part of our average grants portfolio (see graph). The Foundation provides annual support to the Jones Center and makes other grants for natural areas preservation, Atlanta parks and greenspaces, and environmental education.

Environmental conservation grants are sizable and number in the millions. Grantmaking benefitting conservation prioritizes large, established organizations, rarely grassroots efforts. Past grantees include The Conservation Fund and Trust for Public Land. Examine past grantees here.

Applicants can submit a proposal any time of year; however, the foundation requests first sending an LOI before submitting a full proposal. Submit by February 1 to be considered for a grant by April or by September 1 if seeking funding by November.

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