Skip to main content

The Brainerd Foundation


Last Updated: 2016-05-11

At A Glance

The Brainerd Foundation

1601 2nd Ave., Ste. 610

Seattle, WA United States 98101-1541

Telephone: (206) 448-0676


Type of Grantmaker

Independent foundation

Additional Descriptor

  • Family foundation

Financial Data

(yr. ended 2014-12-31)

Assets: $21,724,273

Total giving: $2,700,506






Established in 1995 in WA

Purpose and Activities

The foundation is a small family foundation which provides innovative grantmaking to Northwest communities and nonprofits to build a lasting conservation ethic at the local, state, and federal level. In addition to funding, it provides expertise to its nonprofit partners and collaborates with other foundations to find new methods of advocacy, policy implementation, and capacity building.

Program Area(s)

The grantmaker has identified the following area(s) of interest:

Conservation Capacity

The foundation defines capacity building as the growth of skills, competencies, and infrastructure needed to achieve a higher level of organizational performance. This program specializes in the areas of communications, leadership development, and planning and innovation. It offers grants that support both the individual organizations, or coalitions, that demonstrate an interest and readiness to increase their effectiveness and the regionally focused nonprofit service providers that serve them. Funding for individual organizations is earmarked for groups already receiving support from the foundation's Conservation Policy or Place-based Conservation programs. Grants in this program range from $20,000 to $75,000.

Conservation Policy

This program invests in state-level policy priorities that build a track record of success and demonstrate the benefits of pro-conversation policies to public officials. Policy grants support the work of organizations most integral to the development of state-level policy. The foundation's strategy is to invest in two or three critical organizations in each state as lead grantees. Resources are focused on those groups that demonstrate the leadership, capacity, and track record to achieve success. Grants in this program range from $20,000 to $50,000.

Grassroots Fund

This fund was established to strengthen the Northwest conservation community at its roots. Grants from this fund are typically made to small organizations confronting critical challenges in their communities. Working directly within the landscapes where they live, these groups have local perspective and knowledge, giving them unique leverage at the local level. Organizations requesting support should demonstrate leadership, offering innovative approaches at the grassroots level; work in geographies or on issues that build on the foundation's strategies and goals; collaborate with other organizations, campaigns or coalitions in the region; and operate with an annual budget (typically no more than $250,000) where a small grant can go a long way. Grants in this program range from $5,000 to $10,000.

Opportunity Fund

Because the best-laid plans can run into the unexpected, the foundation designates a limited amount of funds toward Opportunity Fund grants. These grants are awarded to Northwest-focused organizations confronted with a timely opportunity to impact critical ecosystems or significant conservation policy debates or address critical organizational issues. The foundation is specifically interested in meeting needs that pertain to outreach, but grants from this fund can also be used for emergent litigation, applied research, leadership, support, and other unexpected needs. Priority is given to requests that fit into a broader strategy or campaign being pursued by conservation advocates in the state or region. Grants in this program range from $250 to $3,000.

Place-based Conservation

The Place-based Conservation funding area recognizes the powerful connection between people and the critical landscapes that nourish the Northwest's ecosystems and communities. Priorities for funding in this program are grounded in the science of conservation biology, as well as the social and political sciences, with an emphasis on pivotal communities where the foundation's investments will have an impact beyond the immediate landscape. All of the foundation's investments in this program serve the larger goal of engaging citizens and communicating their interests to decision-makers. Grants are made to organizations conducting work in one more of these focus areas: the High Divide (in MT and ID), the North Cascades of Washington State, the Crown of the Continent (in British Columbia and MT), and Central Oregon. Although the foundation's place based conservation strategy is about investing deeply in three to four priority landscapes that engage diverse and strategic constituencies and build community support for protecting natural resources, the foundation also stays appraised of new areas and opportunities that might become ripe for near-term investments. Grants in this program range from $20,000 to $50,000.

Fields of Interest

  • Environment
  • Natural resources
International Interests
  • Canada
Population Groups
  • Academics
  • Adolescents
  • Children and youth
  • Economically disadvantaged people
  • Indigenous peoples
  • Low-income and poor people

Financial Data

Year ended 2014-12-31

Assets: $21,724,273 (market value)

Expenditures: $4,036,343

Total giving: $2,700,506

Qualifying distributions: $3,578,817