Sustainable Path Foundation

OVERVIEW: This funder uses collaborative giving circle model, and emerged from a local biotechnology company called Immunex. Seattle and the Puget Sound region are in focus.

FUNDING AREAS: Environmental sustainability, product safety, wildlife, watersheds

IP TAKE:  SPF awards only a few grants are awarded each year, but this is an interesting philanthropy outfit and model to know if you’re working on environmental issues in the Seattle area.

PROFILE: The Sustainable Path Foundation (SPF) is a nonprofit community organization based in Seattle, Washington. It was founded on the belief that the principles of science can help solve challenges in the region and that the act of bringing together people who have common concerns will have more of an impact than any single donation. SPF was previously called The Yet To Be Named Foundation (YTBN Foundation) and the Seattle Biotech Legacy Foundation.

SPF awards grants with a collective model, pooling money from various sources to support local nonprofits. It enlists the help of donors, who are called partners and who also make an annual minimum contribution of $250, join an Impact Circle, participate in grant cycles, plan seminars, network with others, or use SPF to make a leveraged gift. SPF was founded by colleagues at biotech company Immunex in 2002 and focuses on the Puget Sound region.

SPF typically funds projects in environmental health, wildlife, safe children’s products, and regional watersheds. It has awarded over $1.2 million for projects since 2001. SPF also hosts seminars on topics of regional interest, such as green chemistry, biocarbon storage, and ocean acidification. Other SPF interests include climate change, farming practices, and oil spills.

SPF’s grantees from Impact Circle 8, for example, includes Emerald Cities – Seattle: Expand Green Up Funds for All, Re-Sources For A Sustainable Community, and Sightline Institute: The Thin Green Line for land use law reform to prohibit new fossil fuel infrastructure. The Wild Fish Conservancy also received an SPF grant to help local fishermen transition from gillnets to reef nets. The funder typically makes about four grants per year. Past grantmaking themes have included innovations in sustainability and sustainable communities.

For some previous grant cycles, the foundation has not accepted unsolicited applications, however, SPF will typically post a notice on its website if this is the case. The foundation also awards an annual Founder’s Award: recipients include Zero Waste Washington and the Ocean’s Initiative. All donors who give $250 or more per year are invited to be part of SPF’s grantmaking process.

General questions can be directed to the foundation staff at or (206) 914-7131. The address is Holyoke Building, 107 Spring Street, Seattle, Washington 98104. Lee Benner is the director and has worked for various nonprofits centered on education, civic engagement, and the environment in the past. She can be reached at Foundation news and events are posted on the website.


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