The Russell Family Foundation

OVERVIEW: This funder gives to the Puget Sound region and Pierce County in Washington State. It primarily supports environmental education and preservation, but it backs other, more general causes, too. 

FUNDING AREAS: Environmental education and preservation in the Puget Sound area, education, homelessness, youth and families

IP TAKE: In the spirit of self-evaluation, this foundation took a step back from accepting unsolicited inquiries. Call to inquire about its current strategy before submitting anything.

PROFILE: The Russell Family Foundation, based in Gig Harbor, Washington, works in the Puget Sound region and Pierce County. The foundation was established in 1999, when the Russell family sold the Frank Russell Company to Northwestern Mutual Life. Jane and George Russell established the foundation with the proceeds of that sale. Learn more about the founder and chair emeritus of Threshold Group here.

These are the 12 counties in RFF’s Puget Sound portfolio: Clallam, Jefferson, Kitsap, Mason, Thurston, Pierce, King, Snohomish, Skagit, Whatcom, Island and San Juan. RFF awarded over 800 grants for the protection and restoration of Puget Sound, totaling $41 million, over a 17-year period. For the past several years, Russell has supported efforts by organizations that pursue change by influencing government agencies, private property owners and local residents. These grants are invitation-only, but you can email your idea for critique by grants and operations manager Linsey Sauer at

The foundation has an environmental education program for the counties of King, Pierce, Kitsap and Thurston. Recent environmental work includes a long-term commitment to the Puyallup watershed. RFF supports outdoor environmental education opportunities for 5th through 12th graders in the Puget Sound area; in a 13-year period, it gave 353 grants totaling more than $10.5 million to this cause. In past years, the foundation operated an open letter of inquiry process for this program, however, other years have been invitation-only.

The late Jane Russell was an active volunteer and philanthropist in the community. Jane’s Fund awards grants by invitation only, with a focus on education, scholarships, homelessness, youth and families. In a 12-year period, this fund supported at least 30 organizations with over $1.4 million in grants.

Jane’s Fellowship assists local grassroots leaders who live and work in Pierce County. This fellowship was established in 2004 and offers a 15-month leadership experience for up to 13 leaders in the county.

The George F. Russell Jr. Fund supports local and basic community needs. Unsolicited proposals are not accepted.

You can find information about which programs are currently accepting unsolicited inquiries here. If any open application processes are available, the process is conducted entirely online. This funder typically provides program and project support, but general operating support requests have been considered as well in the past. It may be possible to speak with a staff member about your idea before LOI submission.

Today, the foundation is led by a professional staff of eight and a board composed of multiple generations of the Russell family. General questions can be directed to the staff at 253-858-5050 or Keep up with this funder at its news section.


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