February Environment Grants Awarded!

The Environment Program awarded 7 grants this grant cycle. Of this group, one is for Latin American Biodiversity Conservation, four for Sustainable Consumption & Production, and one for Media. Additionally, a grant was awarded to the Wildfire Project as part of the Environment Program's increasing focus on 'movement-building.' This does not include six pledge grants, three of which are for Latin American Biodiversity Conservation (Imaflora, Root Capital, and the Wildlife Conservation Society), two for Sustainable Production and Consumption (Environmental Paper Network and NRDC), and one for Media (Grist). Our two new grantees are the New York Harbor Foundation and the Wildfire Project. In total, the Environment Program awarded $205,000. 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

The Overbrook Foundation awarded the Environmental Investigation Agency a renewal grant of $55,000 for General Operating Support. This award comes on the heels of a recent victory for elephant conservation: the Obama Administration's decision to ban virtually all commercial sales of ivory in our out of the U.S., a victory for which EIA deserves no small amount of credit. It also published a widely-cited report on the illegal flow of timber from pristine Russian forests, to Chinese manufacturers, to big name brands in the U.S.

Sustainable Production and Consumption

If acting as watchdog for illegal timber harvesting in vast wildernesses wasn't challenging enough, aims to keep fossil fuels in the ground - and its production revenues out of the pockets of higher education. It's been mobilizing thousands of college-age students across the U.S. and around the world to push their colleges, universities, and foundations to divest from companies that engage in fossil fuel extraction. A critical endeavor, and one that requires constant pressure. Overbrook was able to award $40,000 to for General Operating Support.

The Dogwood Alliance - whose mission is to conserve the vast forests in the Southern U.S. through advocating and pushing for sustainable industry practices - has also seen important victories in 2013. It convinced several major companies to use Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paper and pulp, instead of the industry-supported Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), and successfully brought its first carbon credit project to market. We hope that our renewal grant of $15,000 will be of use to Dogwood in the continuation of its Paper Campaign and its Carbon Canopy Project.

UPSTREAM, née Product Policy Institute, was awarded a $15,000 grant for its Campaign for Sustainable Products and Packaging. While EIA and Dogwood Alliance focus on keeping the trees in the ground and holding producers accountable, UPSTREAM looks at returning responsibility to manufacturers for products once they've been used. The Campaign aims to prevent marine debris, plastic pollution, climate change emissions, and natural resource depletion through sustainable packaging and product policies. It builds stakeholder literacy and political power to achieve EPR packaging policy in the public’s interest and mobilizes citizens to put public pressure on brands through the Make It, Take It market campaign. It also continues to develop the CRADLE 2 Coalition into a powerful national network to build political support for EPR for additional products.

But recycling and reuse needn't be focused only on man-made pollutants! That's the premise of the New York Harbor Foundation's Billion Oyster Project, for which it was awarded a first-time grant of $35,000. The Foundation - which supports the innovative New York Harbor School on Governor's Island - aims to engage all New Yorkers in re-discovering their waterways. And what better way than through our stomachs? The Foundation is collecting oyster shells from restaurants to be used to build beds for the baby oysters (or "spats") and eventually, provide a home for oysters and the dozens of other flora and fauna that utilize them. Chilled Sauvignon Blanc at happy hour not included.


Sometimes, of course, one wants a feast for the eyes as well as the mouth. Real Food Media Project aims to satisfy both through informative visual media, busting 'Big Ag' food myths and supporting alternative sustainable visions. The grant of $25,000 for General Operating Support will also go to the publication of its inaugural film contest, which you can vote on here!.

Movement Building

And if you're still searching for that spark, look no further than the Wildfire Project. Founded by one of the lead architects of the Occupy movement, it fuses political education, skills training, group development, and direct organizing support in a curriculum tailored to specific needs of groups in actions. Too often have movements bloomed, only to wither on the vine through lack of interest or support. But if the movements have had the change to develop strong roots, there is a much greater chance of success for the social, political, economic, and ecological justice we are still lacking. We are proud to be able to support the Wildfire Project through a $20,000 General Operating Support grant.

Environment Grants Awarded at November Board Meeting

The Environment Program awarded 17 grants this grant cycle. Of this group, four are for Latin American Biodiversity Conservation, six for Sustainable Consumption & Production, and one for Overbrook's newest program portfolio: Movement Building. This does not include six pledge grants, three of which are for Latin American Biodiversity Conservation (Amazon Conservation Team, Amazon Watch, People and Plants International), and three for Sustainable Production and Consumption (As You Sow, Forest Ethics, and ioby). Our two new grantees are the Grupo Ecologico Sierra Reserve and the Movement Strategy Center. In total, the Environment Program awarded $410,000 in November to its grantees and $2,012,500 in 2013. 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

The Overbrook Foundation awarded The Center for Responsible Travel (CREST) a second grant of $20,000 for its work as a research and advocacy organization whose mission is “to promote tourism policies and practices globally so that local communities may thrive and steward their cultural resources and biodiversity." Its Sinaloa Sur Initiative, begun in 2012 and covering some 100 kilometers of largely undeveloped coastline in Northwestern Mexico on the eastern shore of the Gulf of California, is an ambitious sustainable tourism project, for which CREST is providing tourism expertise.

Relatedly, The Overbrook Foundation continues its support for Pronatura Noroeste, a non-profit active in the Cabo Pulma region of Mexico and instrumental in shutting down a mega-development planned for the region - which holds the only coral reef in the Sea of Cortez. Pronatura received a grant of $50,000 for its work on integrating sustainable tourism into the region.

Grupo Ecologico Sierra Gorda I.A.P (GESGIAP) is Overbrook's newest grantee in its Biodiversity Conservation portfolio, and we are very glad to start our mutually beneficial collaboration. Sierra Gorda is a grassroots organization, founded in 1989 by a group of local Mexican citizens in an impoverished but ecologically rich area of central Mexico. Its objective is to conserve the rich biodiversity of the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve as well as build a sustainable economy based on environmental education, payments for environmental services, and the operation of a network of private nature reserves. It received a $25,000 grant on its payment for ecosystem services research, as well as its development of alternative ways to measure carbon capture.

Moving further south, into Ecuador, Nature and Culture International received a $45,000 grant for its work conserving and managing crucially important ecosystems in Southern Ecuador, including the dry Tumbesian forests, the Andean cloud forests and paramo, foothill Amazonian forests and the pacific foothill forests and wetlands in the El Oro province. The Conservation Fund will focus on the establishment and management of protected areas by municipal governments located in southern Ecuador, comprising land in four Provinces with an area of approximately 87,500 acres.

Sustainable Production & Consumption

The Alliance for Climate Education (ACE) received a $50,000 grant for general operating support. ACE was founded in 2008 to educate high school students about the science behind climate change and inspire them to take action. Not many organizations can say that their work has reached over 1.6 million five years into their formation. Nor could many claim that they’re actually changing peoples’ minds on climate change. However, ACE is doing both. It recognizes that it is critical not just to raise awareness of climate change and its effects among youth, but to actively engage them in the debate and encourage them to take leadership roles.

Tackling movement building and leadership development from the lens of business is the American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC), which received a $25,000 grant, also for general operating support. Since 2012 it has added 45,000 new businesses and 50,000 individuals, bringing its membership up to 165,000 and 300,000, respectively. Its top leaders have met with President Obama, testified at Congressional hearings, organized the first-ever Business Summit for a Sustainable Economy, and built a presence at state-level in 14 states, with a goal of creating a vision, framework and policies to support a vibrant, just and sustainable economy.

A world-wide coalition tackling one aspect of our currently un-sustainable economy is the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA). It received a $40,000 grant for its work in the U.S. and Canada (major hubs of incineration emissions). Its two-part strategy focuses on both stopping unsustainable practices and advancing solutions. In keeping with GAIA’s broad purpose, the network’s core activities include: organizing regional and global meetings for collective strategizing; hosting active e-mail lists that provide a virtual space for member-to-member support; and facilitating skill-shares and global days of action. GAIA also mounts multifaceted, proactive efforts to promote recycling, reuse, and composting as key environmental, climate, and job creation strategies.

Groundswell received a $40,0000 to continue its work, both innovative in practice as well as in scope. Founded in 2009, it has developed a model for “civic consumption” that builds on the power of community infrastructure to help groups realize their power to achieve social outcomes through purchasing decisions. Its Community Power Project (CPP) helps mission-based organizations purchase clean electricity at a reduced price, and its Strong Homes Program helps homeowners and residents procure discounted home energy efficiency services as a group, reducing their energy usage and expenses. Through CPP, Groundswell has seen nearly $8 million funneled to clean electricity, 5,000 tons of carbon abated, and 120 non-profits seeing an average of 15-20% reduction in their energy bills. In 2014, Groundswell will expand its Community Power Program into Baltimore and Philadelphia.

The Overbrook Foundation awarded Health Care Without Harm - whose mission is to transform the health care sector, currently a major polluter, and to reduce harm to human health and the environment - $50,000 for its Healthier Hospitals Initiative. The Initiative has grown to 13 Sponsoring Systems, comprised of the largest, most influential heath care systems in the U.S., and with 850 hospitals participating, it is almost halfway to meeting its goal of enrolling 2,000 hospitals (35% of the entire healthcare sector). These hospitals represent more than $21 billion in purchasing power. The six specific Content Challenges of HHI are: Smarter Purchasing, Safer Chemicals, Leaner Energy, Healthier Foods, Less Waste and Leadership.

Movement Building

And last, but certainly not least, The Overbrook Foundation debuted its new program portfolio focusing on "movement building" by, appropriately, awarding $50,000 to the Movement Strategy Center (MSC). Intimately involved in the development of Overbrook's "Building Equity & Alignment Initiative" (of which more information may be found on Overbrook's main environment page), MSC is dedicated to transformative movement building. It partners with more than 300 grassroots organizations, alliances, networks and foundations that operate at local, regional and national levels. The organization places the experience and leadership of those most impacted at the center of its work, and the majority of its partners are organizations led by low-income, people of color, immigrant, youth and other marginalized populations. Unveils New Reporting Competition!

On August 5, the non-profit arm of Mongabay, the leading biodiversity news and reporting service, announced a new journalism competition! It will offer $20,000 for the winning journalist to focus on innovation in biodiversity conservation. The resulting work will be featured on and other news outlets.

The program is part of's new "Special Reporting Initiatives" and designed to bring more in-depth and focused attention on key environmental topics. You can read more about the competition, and how to apply here.

Grant Awarded to the North Star Fund's Community Fund for Sandy Recovery

At its most recent Board meeting, The Overbrook Foundation awarded a special grant to the North Star Fund for its Community Fund for Sandy Recovery. While you can find many more important details at the North Star Fund’s website (as well as information on their other programs), we want to outline why the Foundation believes it important to support a long-term rebuilding effort after Hurricane Sandy and why the Board has chosen to award this particular grant to do so.

As a New York-based Foundation, Overbrook has wanted to support longer-term recovery and rebuilding efforts since Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast in late October. It is clear that this storm has deeply affected our region. Many people were displaced from their homes or lost electricity for extended periods. Critical longer-term issues have emerged, including the challenges of sustaining livelihoods during vast economic disruption and the health issues arising from environmental hazards (i.e., mold infestations and a lack of access to services). Those who are most impacted by hurricanes, those who are assisted last and those who are left out of the government-led recovery efforts altogether must be central in filling gaps in service provision and in developing community-based solutions.

In recent years, Overbrook has awarded grants outside of the established Board of Directors grants program areas to respond to natural and man-made disasters. For example, the Board supported recovery efforts in the Gulf region following the BP oil spill and in South Asia following the 2004 Tsunami. Following 9/11, the Foundation awarded a grant to the Fund for the City of New York to assist in sustaining New York’s non-profit community as the City began to recover.  In all of these cases, the Foundation awarded grants to intermediaries with existing relationships to impacted communities. They also possess the expertise to identify appropriate grantee organizations with the capacity and credibility to execute equitable and sustainable grassroots recovery efforts. North Star regularly funds and partners with community-based groups advancing economic justice, equality and human rights across New York City.

The Community Fund for Sandy Recovery also builds on two rounds of prior grantmaking through North Star’s Grassroots Hurricane Relief Fund from earlier in 2012 and 2013. North Star staff has thoughtfully directed resources to those grassroots organizations that already know and provide services to constituencies affected by Sandy and who have expanded those services since the hurricane. These service providers also partner with city and state advocacy groups to advocate for better more equitable and sustainable governmental recoveries going forward. As a part of this grant, North Star will work with grantees to write and distribute a report based on the lessons learned from this and past hurricane recovery responses (i.e. Hurricanes in the Gulf and in El Salvador) to inform future preparations and recoveries. These findings will inform efforts to respond to storms in the future.

Congratulations to North Star on this grant and we thank them for their excellent work to support an equitable and sustainable recovery in our city and the surrounding regions!

Human Rights Grants Awarded at June Board Meeting

When The Overbrook Foundation’s Board of Directors met on June 5, it voted to award 14 grants through its Human Rights Program.  A total of $455,000 was awarded to human rights organizations in June.  The Board is pleased to announce these grants in recognition of the important work of the Foundation's grantees promoting human rights at home and abroad!


Most of these awards renewed previous grants; however, first-time grants have been awarded to the US Human Rights Network and Rights Working Group. Rights Working Group, a coalition of 340 local, state and national organizations striving to promote racial justice, immigrant rights and human rights, and end racial profiling, received a $25,000 grant for general operating support. The US Human Rights Network was awarded a grant of $30,000 to support its conference - Advancing Human Rights 2013: Dignity. Justice. Action. This conference, taking place from Friday, December 6, 2013 to Sunday, December 8 2013, will consist of sessions along four thematic tracts: immigration policy and enforcement; criminal justice and mass incarceration; economic policy and workers rights; and, environmental and climate justice. It will be a great opportunity for a wide variety of grassroots and national organizations to come together, share, learn and build a stronger inclusive and connected movement for human rights in the United Sates. As national organizations, both Rights Working Group and the US Human Rights Network play critical roles bringing together and supporting the work of grassroots groups advocating for human rights domestically.


Next, we would like to list the grantees receiving renewals from the Foundation at this meeting. These organizations further the following Foundation initiatives: building a domestic human rights movement, expanding reproductive justice in the US, advancing media reform, defending Latin American Human Rights Defenders and promoting gender rights in Latin America. Throughout the summer, we will be highlighting many of these grantees on the blog so that readers can learn more about their strategies and initiatives, as well as specific victories and accomplishments. Below we have simply outlined the grants awarded, the projects supported by Overbrook and links to our grantee partners’ websites with more information:


Domestic Human Rights
Domestic Human Rights Movement
• The NYCLU received a grant of $70,000 over two years for Advancing New Yorkers’ Human Rights
• The Urban Justice Center’s Human Rights Project and Sex Workers Project were awarded a grant of $40,000


Reproductive Justice
• A $30,000 grant for general operating support was awarded to the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program
Forward Together also received a $30,000 grant for general operating support for its Youth Organizing Program and its leadership role in the Strong Families Initiative
Freedom Network USA was awarded a grant of $20,0000 for Training, Technical Assistance and Mentoring: A Road to Rights Based Advocacy in Human Trafficking
Human Rights Project for Girls received a general operating support grant of $20,000


Mother Jones received a $20,000 for its reporting on human rights, environmental issues and the role of money in politics
WNYC has been awarded an $80,000 grant over two years for On the Media


International Human Rights
Human Rights Defenders
• A $60,000 grant over two years was awarded to Peace Brigades International for protecting Human Rights Defenders in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and Colombia
Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights – Latin America received a $40,000 renewal for general operating support
WITNESS received $90,000 over two years for promoting Human Rights in the Americas Through Video-For-Change


Gender Rights
• The 2013 International Human Rights Fellowship Program at the University of Chile Law School’s Centro de Derechos Humanos will be supported with a grant of $50,000


These are all fantastic organizations and we encourage you to explore their work through their websites and social media outlets. As we renew and initiate partnerships with these 14 groups, we thank them for the innovation, dedication and tireless activism that they bring to their work advocating for and building a more just and equitable world, a world with strong movements for social justice where human rights are respected.

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 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,, to facilitate in-depth reporting on key issues affecting forests and the communities that depend on them.’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 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.