The Lawrence Foundation: Grants for Marine and Rivers

OVERVIEW: The Lawrence Foundation is a family foundation whose giving focuses on the environment, youth development and human services.

IP TAKE: The environment is the foremost grant-getter for this foundation, with marine and river issues most certainly addressed. Grant amounts are typically no more than $5,000, but there are no geographic restrictions either in the U.S. or around the world (so long as the work is generated by a U.S.-based nonprofit) and the foundation provides you with the flexibility of operating grants, as well as the more typical program grants.

PROFILE: The mission of The Lawrence Foundation is vague. The foundation merely declares that its mission is to “support organizations that are working to solve pressing environmental, educational, human services and other issues.”

The throughline for this giving is also vague. A family foundation established by Jeff Lawrence and his wife, Diane Troth, with cash accrued when Lawrence sold his Trillium Digital Systems to Intel, the website says that the couple “feel it is important to give something back and support organizations that are trying to make the world a better place.”

More information can be gleaned through the foundation’s actions than its words, which emphasize environmental causes, including marine and river preservation.

You'll have competition here. The foundation says it receives over 1,000 grant requests per year (while bragging that most family foundations only receive “about 150”). They add that they're only able to fund “about 5%” of those 1,000 annual requests. Quick math translates to 50 grants distributed per year. (Tax records for 2015, the most recent year currently available, show that the foundation gave out 48 grants that year.) In total, The Lawrence Foundation’s website currently states, they've made 525 grants totaling almost $4.6 million total since their establishment in 2000, with current assets of “about $4 million.”

That said, grant amounts given out by The Lawrence Foundation are modest. They typically range from $2,000 to $10,000, with the vast majority at the $5,000 mark. The foundation’s application is fairly basic; it uses the Common Grant Application (which leadership of The Lawrence Foundation helped create). There is a standard request for goals/objectives/outcomes—a good strategy would be to communicate how a $5,000 grant would support your goals. 

Note: the foundation “does not typically” give funding for computers/software, audio/video equipment, music or theater programs/equipment, gardening programs/equipment, physical education or recreational programs/equipment, or hospice/"old age home" programs.

While The Lawrence Foundation has no geographic restrictions, giving both domestically or internationally (so long as the international project is operated by a U.S. nonprofit), marine and river grantees unquestionably trend towards California groups. Recent grantees include:

The Lawrence Foundation’s grant application is open to all, and has two grant cycles each year, with deadlines in April and November.


Jeff Lawrence, Founder and Trustee

Diane Troth, Trustee

Lori Mitchell, Executive Director