Environmental Grants Awarded at June Board Meeting!

The Environment Program awarded 12 grants this grant cycle, one in environmental media, four in the biodiversity program, and seven on sustainable production and consumption.

In total, the Environment Program in June awarded $440,000 to its grantees, whose work is listed below. The Foundation is extremely proud of the work of all its grantees, and congratulates them on their many and impressive successes!

Biodiversity Conservation in Latin America

Earthworks received a twelve-month grant of $35,000 for its Protecting Ecosystems and Communities from Dirty Mining initiative. Earthworks, a non-profit organization, is dedicated to protecting communities and the environment from the impacts of irresponsible mineral and energy development while seeking sustainable solutions.  In that vein, it is helping to launch the “Initiative for Responsible Mining” (IRMA) this year.

The Overbrook Foundation awarded a first-time grant of $50,000 to Mongabay.org for its Special Reporting Initiative. Founded in 1999 by Rhett Butler, Mongabay is a leading environmental web site with a special focus on tropical forests. In 2012 Mongabay launched its non-profit arm, Mongabay.org, to facilitate in-depth reporting on key issues affecting forests and the communities that depend on them. Mongabay.org’s Special Reporting Initiatives Program on “Innovation in Biodiversity Conservation” will enable a professional journalist to do a series of articles on a particular issue (candidates and topics will be selected by a panel of expert judges). The resulting articles will published on Mongabay.com under an open Creative Commons license that allows for re-publishing elsewhere.

From new grantee to established partner! Overbrook continues its relationship with the New York Botanical Garden with a $50,000 grant for its Professional Woodsmen for Managed Forests in Amazonian Brazil program. Following the successful implementation of a second Training Course for Amazonian Woodsmen in 2012, the Garden proposes to extend the project’s scope and scale by continuing the course in the Saracá-Taquera National Forest in eastern Amazonia and bringing human and institutional resources from eastern Amazonia into the project. Changes in policy and practice at this scale have the potential to affect the sustainable forestry of over millions of hectares of forest in the Brazilian Amazon. Recently, the mateiros (woodsmen) training program was adopted by the Brazilian Forest Service, with the aim to standardize the training process.

The Rainforest Action Network (RAN) will continue its Rainforest Agribusiness Campaign to persuade Cargill to adopt sustainable palm oil policies. RAN began this effort with its “Cargill Friends and Family Campaign,” a robust print and online ad campaign where it infiltrated the ad space of the Wayzata community (home to many Cargill executives) using values-based messaging. In expanding the project, RAN will focus on strategically persuading Cargill customers to adopt sustainable policies of their own,  and in turn, put pressure on Cargill to overhaul its practices. Overbrook is supporting this work with a $40,000 grant.

Sustainable Production & Consumption

Clean Production Action received a $45,000 grant for General Operating Support. Its mission is to design and deliver strategic solutions for green chemicals, sustainable materials and environmentally preferable products.The organization’s unique role is to translate the systems-based vision of clean production into the tools and strategies that NGOs, governments and businesses need to advance green chemicals and sustainable materials. Projects include GreenScreen (GS), currently the leading application for identifying safer chemicals, and BizNGO, which is at the center of cross-sectoral efforts to transform the chemical and material economy. Another useful development will be the “List Translator” – a software tool that will enable users to quickly evaluate whether a known chemical is of concern.

And toxic chemicals shouldn't be in our products, let alone our food. New Overbrook grantee the Food Tank aims to align agricultural systems with nutritionally sound and environmentally responsible production, and connect sustainable growth for farmers with healthy food for eaters. Launched in 2013, the Food Tank will provide original research and an aggregation of agriculture news and commentary, curated and produced several times daily. In furtherance of its efforts, the Foundation is giving $35,000 to the Food Tank for General Operating Support.

The Foundation has also awarded $25,000 to the Green Press Initiative for General Operating Support. The purpose of the Green Press Initiative is to advance systemic changes within the paper production and consumption cycle which result in the preservation of endangered forests, greenhouse gas reductions, conservation of natural resources and protections for affected communities. In addition, it will work with the Project for Improved Environmental Coverage, a fellow initiative of SEE Innovation.

The Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE) will receive $70,000 over twenty-four months for its Don't Waste LA campaign. LAANE has seen impressive and rapid success in its efforts to create a franchised commercial recycling system, which began in 2010. After a hard fought campaign by LAANE’s team and allies, the City Council voted in November 2012 in favor of converting to a franchise system. Regulations and an ordinance are presently being developed with LAANE’s input. For 2013, LAANE’s objectives are to ensure that the competitive franchise policy to be finalized by late 2013 will maximize recycling and reuse, establish safety, labor and environmental standards for hauling and processing facilities, and will be implemented in the most sustainable manner.

But wouldn't it be nice if there was less waste to recycle in the first place, and the burden wasn't all on the consumers? The Product Stewardship Institute (PSI) aims to address exactly those issues as well as promote the expansion of extended producer responsibility (EPR) laws. In 2013, it will focus on the materials and states where such battles have the greatest likelyhood of winning. To that end, The Overbrook Foundation is awarding PSI $20,000 for its Building Capacity to Pass EPR Legislation for Packaging, Batteries & Mattresses initiative.

The Story of Stuff will receive $40,000 for General Operating Support. The Story of Stuff Project was founded in 2008 by Annie Leonard to leverage the remarkable success of The Story of Stuff, a 20-minute web-film that explores the hidden environmental and social consequences of America’s love affair with its Stuff. The Project seeks to fundamentally transform systems of production and consumption — the way we make, use and throw away Stuff — so that they serve, rather than undermine, environmental sustainability and social equity. In 2013-14, The Story of Stuff will produce and release its ninth webfilm, The Story of Solutions; produce, beta test and launch an innovative, online Citizen Muscle Boot Camp; and create and introduce three, Community-generated campaigns on reducing plastics volume and toxicity, increasing sharing of infrastructure and diminishing political corruption, with a focus on overturning Citizens United.

Urban Green - the New York City arm of the U.S. Green Building Council - will receive $80,000 over twenty-four months General Operating Support. Urban Green Council’s mission is to lead the advancement of sustainability in the urban built environment and to serve as a model for other cities through education, advocacy, collaboration and research. It helmed the Green Codes Task Force, which released 111 proposals to green New York City’s codes in February 2010. Through the Council’s advocacy, 35 proposals have been adopted with more under consideration. Urban Green also provides a wide range of educational and networking events for its members and the green building community at large; conducts research; and advocates for change that will make cities more sustainable. After the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, Mayor Bloomberg asked Urban Green to chair the Building Resiliency Task Force.

Media & Other

Longtime Overbrook grantee Island Press received $25,000 for General Operating Support. Its mission is to provide the best ideas and information in the field to those seeking to understand and protect the environment and create solutions to its complex problems. In 2013, it will continue to expand its online focus: in 2012, it converted the majority of its backlist to e-book formats, which has enabled it to increase its presence with both e-tailers like Amazon, Nook, and Apple, and e-textbook sellers like Chegg and University Readers. Its e-book sales grew from about $37,000 (1.3% of sales) in 2011 to more than $140,000 (5.1% of sales) in 2012.