The Lazar Foundation

OVERVIEW: This funder supports very specific environmental causes in the Pacific Northwest. It accepts letters of inquiry via email and has two yearly grant cycles.

FUNDING AREAS: Environment, ecosystem conservation, strengthening the environmental movement

IP TAKE:  Biodiversity and strengthening the environmental movement’s reach are key. Lazar won't hold your hand through the process, but environmental groups in Oregon can find support here.  

PROFILE: The Lazar Foundation is based in Portland, Oregon, and is dedicated to protecting the environment in the Pacific Northwest. The founders were Jack and Helen Lazar, who were involved in the fashion industry in the 1950s and 1960s. Their brand was Kimberly Knitwear, which was later acquired by General Mills. Jack Lazar later became General Mill’s VP and director. They established their foundation in 1956 and sold their businesses in the 1970s.

This foundation has very specific environmental interests in the region. It accepts unsolicited inquiries for conservation of large and significant aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems and preserving biological diversity. It also accepts inquiries to broaden the environmental movement and strengthen the movement’s ability to communicate key messages.

In a recent year, Lazar donated a total of $717,500 for these types of causes. The foundation provides both general operating support and specific project support. A list of previously funded grants is here. The foundation has given most past grants to groups in Oregon, such as the Oregon Natural Desert Association, the Audubon Society of Portland and Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. Recent grants have been between $12,000 and $50,000. Alaska is not part of this funder’s focus.

The following issue areas are not open to proposals: toxics, land acquisition, environmental education, individuals, computer expenses, civic projects, endowments or capital campaigns. Lazar does not like to fund film projects, urban or suburban issues, or conservation-based research.

Lazar awards grants two times per year, and proposals are due by April 15 and October 15. The first step to a Lazar grant is a letter of inquiry via email. Don’t bother with a phone call before you sent that email because it won’t be returned. If you don’t get a response to your LOI, you should just assume that your proposal hasn’t been accepted. If Lazar is interested, you’ll receive an invitation to submit a full application within a month.

All correspondence should be directed to the foundation’s executive director, Sybil Ackerman, at 503-225-0265 or She has a J.D., is certified in environmental law from Lewis and Clark Law School, and has a master’s in environmental management from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. The three trustees of the Lazar Foundation are Bill Lazar, Jeanne Morency and Michael Morency. Bill Lazar is the son of the founders, and Jeanne Morency is their daughter. The foundation’s address is 715 SW Morrison Street, Suite 901, Portland, OR 97205.