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The Christensen Fund


Last Updated: 2016-04-15

At A Glance

The Christensen Fund

260 Townsend St., Ste. 600

San Francisco, CA United States 94107-1719

Telephone: (415) 644-1600


Type of Grantmaker

Independent foundation

Additional Descriptor

  • Family foundation

Financial Data

(yr. ended 2014-12-31)

Assets: $255,999,116

Total giving: $12,515,957






Incorporated in 1957 in CA - The grantmaker is a signatory to Philanthropy’s Promise, an initiative of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP). By signing on, the grantmaker has committed to allocating the majority of its grantmaking dollars to marginalized communities and at least 25 percent to social justice strategies, such as advocacy, community organizing, and civic engagement

Purpose and Activities

The fund believes in the power of biological and cultural diversity to sustain and enrich a world faced with great change and uncertainty. Focus is on "bio-cultural" - the rich but neglected adaptive interweave of people and place, culture and ecology. The fund's mission is to buttress the efforts of people and institutions who believe in a biodiverse world infused with artistic expression and work to secure ways of life and landscapes that are beautiful, bountiful and resilient. The fund pursues this mission through place-based work in the region chosen for their potential to withstand and recover from the global erosion of diversity. Focus is on backing the efforts of locally-recognized community custodians of this heritage, and their alliances with scholars, artists, advocates and others. International efforts are also funded to help build global understanding of these issues. The fund works primarily through capacity and network building, knowledge generation, collaboration and mission-related investments.

Program Area(s)

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

Global Program

This program (formerly known as "Cross Cutting") focuses on building global understanding of the relationship between culture and environment in an era of rapid change. In addition to the focused work in the four selected regions, the fund will also support efforts involving those regions and the wider world including: studies, writing, events, networks and multi-media dissemination efforts that build and share practical knowledge worldwide around the concepts of "bio-cultural diversity", resilience and adaptive change, and the consequences of global warming for diversity. Projects of artistic expression that can reach the global community to reshape understanding of how biological and cultural richness are interdependent and require passionate attention are also considered. Opportunities to contribute towards international conferences around such issues of cultural and biological diversity and resilience and climate change so as to support global learning and exchange, in particular regarding participation from the fund's priority regions. The fund will not make individual grants to conferences. The fund invites applications from institutions based anywhere in the world for grants within the program's framework. Maximum grant size is $200,000 over two years (grants over two years are by invitation only).

Regional Programs

The fund focuses its grantmaking on maintaining the rich diversity of the world—biological and cultural—over the long run, by focusing on five geographic regions: 1) The Greater Southwest (Southwest USA and Northwest Mexico); 2) Central Asia and Turkey (current focus on the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan with some grants in the mountains and associated valleys of Northeast Turkey); 3) The African Rift Valley (especially Southwest Ethiopia and Northern Kenya); 4) Northern Australia (current focus on Arnhem Land, Far Northern Queensland, the Kimberley and the Torres Strait Islands); 5) Melanesia (current focus on Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu). Grants within the regional programs are generally directed to organizations based within those regions or, where appropriate, to internationally based organizations working in support of the efforts of people and institutions on the ground. Grant size is typically in the $50,000 to $100,000 range over one year or two years, with larger grants being available generally per invitation only and to previous grantees. New Melanesia applicants should apply initially for up to 12 months duration. Projects longer than 12 months are currently only being considered for previous Melanesia grantees. Applicants are encouraged to submit their inquiries or pre-proposals by deadline dates noted on the fund’s web site for each program, preferably during the calendar year immediately preceding the proposed project or as invited by a Program Officer. See fund web site for more information.

San Francisco Bay Area Program

The fund welcomes opportunities to support activities that connect its mission and/or geographic priorities with communities of the San Francisco Bay Area, CA. In particular, the fund supports activities by San Francisco Bay Area institutions centered on: 1) maintaining and sharing the cultural and artistic life of Diaspora communities from the fund's focus regions now residing in the San Francisco Bay Area; 2) engaging young people and wider publics here in the world's biological and cultural diversity; and 3) valuing the connection to landscape and the threats of such things as global warming. The fund awards grants mostly in the range of $10,000 to $40,000 to Bay Area institutions within the program's framework.

Fields of Interest

  • Biology
  • Cultural awareness
  • Ecology
  • Environment
  • Museums
  • Natural resources
  • Visual arts
International Interests
  • Asia
  • Australia
  • Ethiopia
  • Kenya
  • Kyrgyz Republic
  • Mexico
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Tajikistan
  • Turkey
  • Vanuatu
Population Groups
  • American Indians
  • Australian Aborigines
  • Economically disadvantaged people
  • Indigenous peoples
  • Low-income and poor people

Financial Data

Year ended 2014-12-31

Assets: $255,999,116 (market value)

Gifts received: $1,161,400

Expenditures: $21,259,401

Total giving: $12,515,957

Qualifying distributions: $17,272,301