Curtis & Edith Munson Foundation: Grants for Marine Conservation

OVERVIEW: The Curtis and Edith Munson Foundation supports conservation in eastern North America and the Caribbean Basin, with an emphasis on the United States. It supports environmental and marine conservation projects.

IP TAKE: While Munson requires very specific guidelines, such as geographic limitations to for site-specific projects, it also supports overall public outreach and education. It makes several medium-sized grants a year.

PROFILE: Established in 1987, The Curtis and Edith Munson Foundation is run by Wolcott Henry, an underwater photographer and president of both the CEM Foundation and the Henry Foundation. Wolcott Henry's partner, Angel Braestrup, worked in environmental policy in the U.S. House of Representatives early in her career, before eventually becoming executive director in 1994. Together they orchestrate a notable portfolio predominately devoted to marine conservation. Indeed, it awards more than 85% of its grantmaking to marine conservation and protection in eastern North America and the Caribbean Basin. Marine resources are not the only priority, but they are the largest one by far. Fisheries, in particular, draw the foundation’s sustained interest. 

Munson's limits its marine conservation grantmaking to South Florida ecosystems, and its environmental giving to Alabama and Washington D.C., which is not open to proposals. Grantseekers should also keep in mind that most grants require a 1:1 match following receipt of the grant, and they require that all members of an organization’s board contribute financially.  South Florida ecosystems, including the Everglades, Biscayne Bay, Florida Bay, and the Florida Keys, are a top priority. 

The Munson Foundation appears to prioritize projects that focus on environmental education, public outreach, media work, and strengthening the overall community of people working toward marine conservation. In other words, it funds a lot of work to educate through conferences, film projects, aquariums, or environmental publications. 

While the foundation makes a large number of grants, none are especially big. All range between $10,000 to $50,000. The average grant ranges between $15,000 and $25,000. While the foundation does fund some renown organizations like the Nature Conservancy, Surfrider and Trout Unlimited, smaller groups with compatible missions have a solid chance of securing a grant from Munson as well. To see a list of previous grantees, click here.

The foundation asks grantseekers to submit a 1-2 page letter of inquiry by email (in regular document form) before sending additional materials. Letters of inquiry by encouraged and due on the first Friday in April or the second Friday in September. 

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