Northwest Fund for the Environment

OVERVIEW: The Northwest Fund for the Environment supports environmental causes in Washington state related to aquatic ecosystems and growth management for local lands.

FUNDING AREAS: Environmental causes in Washington State

IP TAKE: This foundation funds highly specific causes and types of nonprofit programs in Washington, so contact the foundation to discuss an idea before submitting any paperwork.

PROFILE: Established in 1971, the Northwest Fund for the Environment (NWFE) is committed to environmental causes in Washington State. In the early years, this foundation raised and distributed funds to environmental groups before becoming inactive for a few years and reorganizing itself with an endowment with the help of an anonymous donor. The foundation aims to promote change “in the uses of natural resources which will increase their protection and preservation in the State of Washington.” It is based in Seattle and prioritizes the protection of wild fish, natural forests, shorelines, free-flowing waters, and native wildlife.

The foundation has an aquatic ecosystem program that aims to “protect and restore the extensive network of fresh and saltwater ecosystems in the State of Washington and the native species that inhabit these ecosystems.” Grants are made to benefit freshwater ecosystems, such as rivers, wetlands, streams, and riparian areas and to address water quality, quality, and connectivity issues. Grants are also made to benefit saltwater ecosystems of the Puget Sound and Washington coast, such as saltwater shorelines and estuaries.

Another foundation grantmaking program is the growth management program, which is designed to encourage smart growth land use policies and preserve environmentally sensitives areas that are vulnerable to development and climate change. These grants go towards land use planning and management, better land use practices, compliance with growth management laws, and boosting the capacity of nonprofits working in this field in Washington.

NWFE grants typically range from $3,000 to $20,000. In the past, the foundation has also awarded community response fund grants, which were available in amounts between $500 and $3,000. Grantseekers can view a list of past grantees by year and the amounts awarded on the funder’s website. Grants are only awarded to groups that benefit Washington State. Standard NWFE grants are for 16-month periods and grants do not fund capital projects, land acquisition, structural restoration, K-12 educational activities, youth group support, museum displays, academic research, or art projects.

NWFE accepts unsolicited grant inquiries from qualified and locally focused candidates. The application process begins by contacting the foundation by phone or email to discuss a project. From there, the staff will email documents to invited nonprofits to complete. The application is in two parts, and nonprofits must be invited by the foundation to apply for each part. General questions should be directed to the foundation staff at 206-386-7220 or


Search for staff contact info and bios in PeopleFinder (paid subscribers only.)