Weeden Foundation: Grants for Conservation

OVERVIEW: The Weeden Foundation supports programs and projects that fund biodiversity programs, land-acquisition, sustainable population growth, and human consumption.

IP TAKE: With a narrow focus on biodiversity and habitat conservation, the Weeden Foundation is careful to match its giving philosophy with its personal philosophy—namely, that the greatest challenge to a sustainable future lies in human consumption habits and rapidly growing global population. 

PROFILE: Established in 1963, the Weeden Foundation seeks to address the "adverse impact of growing human populations and overuse of natural resources on the biological fabric of the planet." As a result, Weeden largely focuses on protecting biodiversity. Despite its small size, the Weeden Foundation has funded hundreds of small environmental organizations and helped preserve over 6,000,000 acres of critical habitat worldwide. The foundation's programmatic priorities include international and national biodiversity, land-acquisition, sustainable population growth, and human consumption.

With anywhere between 30 and 40 biodiversity grants made a year, Weeden rarely considers funding beyond its particular geographic areas of interests. Weeden focuses the majority of its conservation work beyond the U.S. Indeed, nearly 40% of Weeden’s total annual grantmaking supports conserving environmentally sensitive habitats.  

Weeden imposes strict geographic restrictions on its grantmaking. Currently, the foundation supports grantmaking in the Klamath-Siskiyou Bioregion in Northern California; in the High Divide in SW Montana; the Altai Republic in Russia, and in Chilean Patagonia. However, the foundation has supported programs in other countries in past years, so applicants should review Weeden's website often. 

Prior to his death in 1984, investment banker Frank Weeden, the foundation's founder and chief benefactor, requested that foundation funds be used to address the impact of growing human populations and overuse of natural resources on the biological fabric of the planet. While efforts to protect biodiversity directly represents approximately two thirds of Weeden’s total grantmaking, the other third aids programs that will help curb human consumption and stabilize the global population. The Weeden Foundation supports international and domestic population stabilization projects because it believes that a growing global population poses a significant challenge to protecting biodiversity.

The foundation’s consumption program currently focuses on sustainable paper consumption and production. Grantmaking in this area aims to expand the market for environmental papers through consumer-targeted education and efforts directed at the publishing industries and corporate and government procurement practices. Weeden also offers grants to organizations that holistically teach sustainability and conservation to K-12. 

Weeden tends to prioritize smaller organizations. The average grant is about $20,000. Although the foundation does not provide multi-year support requests, Weeden prioritizes funding experts, research and communications initiatives that both educate the public and establish a greater sense of urgency among influencers and policymakers about biodiversity loss and conservation.

With its origins in investment and banking, the foundation takes a business savvy and decidedly hands-on approach to its funding and programming strategies in order. It does so in order to broadly appeal to citizens who care about the environment, particularly those in the business world. In addition, through its Mission Related Investing program, Weeden invests in new and innovative models for conservation action, including real estate for conservation purposes and equity investments in environmentally conscious natural resource businesses.

KEY PEOPLE:

  • Don Weeden, Executive Director

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