Wallace Genetic Foundation: Grants for Conservation

OVERVIEW: The Wallace Genetic Foundation supports land and water conservation across the United States and beyond, with a particular interest in conserving farmland and natural resoruces, as well as helping farmers realize their role in ensuring resource sustainability. It's particularly interested in groups and individuals with innovative, long-term ideas to benefit the country and world.

IP TAKE: If you have a nonprofit working in rural areas on conservation issues, or a research institution studying rural sustainability, you and the Wallace Genetic Foundation already have much common ground. Small organizations with limited resources are also welcome, and it accepts unsolicited proposals.

PROFILE: Long before there was a GMO crop industry, there was hybrid-crop pioneer Henry A. Wallace. In 1913, this Iowa farmer started up a corn enterprise, the Hi-Bred Corn Company, whose product was ears of corn made extra savory by the organic blending of the best available strains. No other farmer in the country was attempting hybrid corn just yet, but they would catch on — by 1940, hybrid stalks constituted 90% of the U.S. corn crop. Wallace's company lives on today, albeit under the name DuPont Pioneer. And his innovative-farming legacy carries on in the Wallace Genetic Foundation, an institution that continuously spurs new research and development in sustainable agriculture practices since its founding by Wallace in 1959.

The foundation has a midsize endowment base of around $150 million, out of which it dispenses $4 million to $11 million or more in philanthropic contributions annually. Grant programs include sustainable agriculture, farmland preservation, conservation of natural resources, biodiversity protection, reduction of environmental toxins, global climate issues, and sustainable agriculture. Grant recipients range fairly equitably across the United States and include some groups that specialize in international conservation work, too. 

Unsolicited applications for grants are welcome, by the way, and are processed on a rolling basis throughout the year. Winners can typically expect awards in the $25,000 to $50,000 range. While these amounts may sound modest compared with larger sums that some larger foundations give out, they are also easier for small nonprofits that lack national brand-name recognition to win. Also, the foundation can be quite generous to projects that particularly impress it. Quite a few grant recipients receive successive strings of these modest grant sums over time, and they add up to totals in the hundreds of thousands or even millions.

Agriculture-related research is a key funding target. Conservation initiatives to confront climate change, halt habitat destruction, protect threatened species, mitigate environmental pollution, protect farmland near cities, and stop the overuse of natural resources are a few others. Universities thus feature frequently among Wallace's grant recipients. The foundation has awarded numerous funds to academic programs pertinent to conservation and to university outreach campaigns that engage the outside community.

Many nonacademic research bodies and associations have benefited from Wallace grants, too.

In keeping with its founder's vision and values, the foundation shows a strong interest in those who work in issues involving farming.

Farmland is by no means the foundation's only area of interest, though. A wide swath of other land and water conservation and environmental advocacy groups involved in habitat restoration, public awareness campaigns, and wildlife protection get support from Wallace as well.

To see a list of past grantees, click here.

PEOPLE:

  • Joan D. Murray, President
  • Ann Cornell, Vice President
  • David Douglas, Vice President

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