Christensen Fund: Grants for Global Development

OVERVIEW: Christensen works with organizations advocating for equitable land and sea rights of indigenous people living in the fund’s geographic regions of focus.

IP TAKE: The Christensen Fund’s global development grants are focused squarely on the rights of indigenous people. Would-be grantees will have a better shot at landing a grant if they connect their rights work with preserving the biodiversity and cultures of local communities.

PROFILE: Since it was established in 1957 by Allen and Carmen Christensen, the Christensen Fund has expanded beyond its San Francisco roots to address key policy issues predominantly related to the land rights of indigenous people in Africa, Central Asia, Northwest Mexico, Northern Australia, and Melanesia.

Across all of its grantmaking programs, the Christensen fund seeks to preserve the cultural diversity of its regional areas of focus. This is due to Allen and Carmen Christensen’s personal interest in fine arts and ethnographic artifacts in the San Francisco Bay area. Those interests have since expanded to include other regions of the world as well as to other areas of funding interest.

One of eight programmatic areas, the Global Program works with grassroots groups, global institutions, and advocates for equitable land and sea rights of indigenous people living in the fund’s geographic regions of focus. 

In efforts to improve international understanding of the link between cultural and biological diversity, Christensen focuses on three themes in its grantmaking including: advocating for representation of indigenous peoples in the international discourse on biocultural rights; developing resilient biocultural landscapes; and supporting agrobiodiversity and food sovereignty efforts.

The fund supports a variety of rights endeavors based on its geographic areas of focus: 

  • Melanesia. Grants are made to groups working in land rights, food sovereignty, and economic stability.
  • African Rift Valley. Christensen focuses its grantmaking on strengthening the livelihoods and sustainability of pastoral communities.
  • Central Asia. Support is given to outfits working to improve the livelihoods of pastoralists and farmers.
  • Northern Australia. Grants are made to those supporting the rights and cultures of indigenous peoples.
  • Northwest Mexico. The fund awards grants to organizations that are helping to strengthen the land rights of indigenous communities in the area.   

Prospective grantees should explore the fund’s searchable grants database for a broader sense of the types of organizations Christensen typically supports.

The Christensen Fund awards grants that range from $50,000 to $100,000. The fund accepts inquiries from August 1 to August 31 each year with the exception of the Melanesia program, which accepts inquiries from September 1 to September 31 every year.

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