Donor Circle for the Environment

Donor Circle for the Environment

To find out more about the circle’s activities, or to contribute to the Donor Circle for the Environment today, please contact

Making Environmental Philanthropy More Powerful

The Donor Circle for the Environment is a group of philanthropists interested in learning and grantmaking together to support and grow nonprofits addressing local and regional environmental issues. Since its inception, the donor circle has granted $1,235,000 to 34 nonprofits working throughout the Bay Area (usually with a Silicon Valley focus) on projects in its three concentration areas – climate change, land conservation and preservation and environmental education.

To increase the potential for learning, the donor circle selects a new overarching thematic focus each year. In 2020, a year of compounded crises, the group provided essential support for vulnerable communities, with a racial justice lens. In 2021, the theme was A Resilient Recovery: Wildfires and Climate Resiliency. Themes for 2022 are currently under consideration. As part of its guiding principles, the donor circle supports projects that enable small nonprofits at inflection points to scale their impact. All grants are delivered within two years, and the group considers issues of diversity and cultural relevancy as they apply to the long-term sustainability of projects.

The Donor Circle for the Environment is open to all donors at SVCF. We invite you to participate by adding to this pool of community dollars, or even better, by joining the circle.

Membership in the Donor Circle for the Environment offers:

  • Increased philanthropic impact by pooling resources with other donors
  • An opportunity to celebrate your passion for the environment and meet others who share this commitment
  • Participation in the selection of environmental organization grantees
  • Site visits to see how grantees and other organizations are creating an impact on the environment and people's lives

To find out more about the circle’s activities, or to contribute to the Donor Circle for the Environment today, please contact

Recovery: Wildfires and Climate Resiliency – 2021

Organization Area Purpose Amount
Amah Mutsun Land Trust (AMLT) Santa Clara County To support a Native Plant Propagation Steward to provide continuity for the AMLT’s plant propagation efforts $50,000
Nuestra Casa de East Palo Alto San Mateo County To support the design and pilot implementation of an Environmental Justice Academy Graduate Program to help East Palo Alto communities $30,000
San Mateo County Parks and Recreation Foundation San Mateo County To support and connect low-income BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and / or People of Color) youth and families to nature by increasing access to San Mateo County's parks and open spaces $30,000

Valley Verde

Santa Clara County To support the expansion of access to healthy food systems in San Jose communities of color by cultivating local gardening leaders, providing gardening skills, space and tools, and proliferating produce offerings that are preferred by San Jose's diverse groups $30,000

A Year in Crisis – 2020

A Year in Crisis – From COVID to Fire: Food Insecurity & Other Essential Support for Vulnerable Communities with a Racial Justice Lens

Organization Area Purpose Amount
Urban Tilth Contra Costa County To support expansion of their CSA program for new families driven by COVID-19 and poverty, including expansion of new BIPOC small and sustainable farmers and Urban Tilth’s sustainable North Richmond Farm $40,000
CA BIPOC Farmer/Land Steward Relief Fund California To provide immediate relief grants to farmers of color and indigenous land stewards struggling under COVID-19 and fire economic stress, and who have been left out of other relief funds. The longer-term goal is laying the foundation for a powershift for a POC-led infrastructure. $30,000
Ayudando Latinos a Sonar San Mateo County To provide immediate food, mental health, and other essential services to the farm worker community in Half Moon Bay struggling under COVID, fire and other farm closures $30,000

Puente de la Costa Sur

San Mateo County To provide immediate food and other essential services to the farm worker community in the Pescadero area struggling under COVID and fire stresses $30,000
Pie Ranch San Mateo County To support rebuilding efforts after the CZU fire, to ensure Pie Ranch can continue work on building healthy and just food system at its farm through food education, farmer training, and regional partnerships $30,000

Sustainability – 2019

Organization Area Purpose Amount
San Mateo County Resource Conservation District San Mateo County To support the San Mateo RCD's technical assistance to environmental leaders from underserved coastal communities, with key activities being a feasibility analysis of a mobile laundromat for Pescadero and a carbon farm plan for Rancho San Benito, a farm cooperative transitioning farm workers to farm owners $30,000
Open Architecture Collaborative Inc San Mateo County To embed equity in San Mateo County climate resilience planning by funding equity consulting by Open Architecture in collaboration with the County of San Mateo Office of Sustainability and community partners $30,000
The Tech Museum of Innovation Santa Clara County To support The Tech Interactive's work to develop and facilitate an Innovation Lab for the Sustainable Cities exhibit $30,000
Acterra: Action for a Healthy Planet San Mateo County To create the North Fair Oaks Climate Resilient Communities Fellowship and design an implementation plan for adaptation strategies identified by East Palo Alto community member $60,000

Resilient and Sustainable Communities - 2018

Organization Area Purpose Amount
Menlo Spark San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties To help local cities adopt a zero carbon building policy for new developments $15,000
Collaborative project between San Francisco Estuary Institute (SFEI) / SPUR / Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority Santa Clara County To support a collaboration between SFEI, SPUR, and SCVOSA to improve regional integrated landscape planning efforts by identifying and quantifying nature-based solutions for more resilient cities and rural areas $100,000 over two years

Strengthening Underserved and Underrepresented Voices - 2017

Organization Area Purpose Amount
Asian Pacific Environmental Network Bay Area / California For support of local and statewide organizing and strategic policy campaigns to improve air quality in the East Bay and across California $20,000
California League of Conservation Voters Education Fund California For support of the California Voices effort to engage non-traditional environmental stakeholders in raising the profile of conservation issues with decision-makers and the media $20,000
California Environmental Justice Alliance California To support local organizing efforts with low-income communities and communities of color to advance efforts around civic engagement, climate and environmental justice, and energy equity $20,000
Youth united for Community Action East Palo Alto For support of the “Our Human Right to Water” effort and other priority environmental justice programs $20,000
Aim High Bay Area For support of the Environmental Home program to help minority and low-income youth increase exposure to and appreciation for the natural environment $10,000

SF Bay -  2016

Organization Area Purpose Amount
Baykeeper Bay Area To support the organization’s important work as a watchdog to keep San Francisco Bay clean and healthy $5,000
Audubon California Bay Area To explore the potential of San Francisco Bay estuary eelgrass as a source of “Blue Carbon” that could be used for carbon credits to help mitigate climate change $30,000
San Francisco Estuary Institute Bay Area To develop a plan to create a new Center for Resilient Landscapes to accelerate and incorporate state-of-the-art science into Bay Area climate adaptation policy decisions for more resilient communities and ecosystems  $30,000
Save the Bay Bay Area To support Bay Area wetlands restoration to help improve the health of SF Bay and better adapt to climate change $35,000

Local Food System -  2015

Organization Area Purpose Amount
California Climate and Agriculture Network (CalCAN) California To help lay the groundwork for successful implementation of new state funding programs in support of low-carbon and sustainable agricultural practices $30,000
Carbon Cycle Institute Bay Area To implement CCI’s Ag Carbon program and scale effective low-carbon farming and regenerative rangeland management practices around the Bay Area $30,000
Kitchen Table Advisors San Mateo County To support KTA’s transition from a pilot phase to a full-scale program providing business and financial advisory services to sustainable small farms $15,000
Pie Ranch San Mateo County To support the “Youth & Emerging Farmer Eco-Science Research” project which teaches the environmental impacts of farming and sustainable farming practices $15,000
Sustainable Conservation California To support the development of sound manure management practices and markets that will greatly reduce methane emissions from livestock $30,000

Water -  2014

Organization Area Purpose Amount
Point Blue Santa Cruz Mountains To restore native vegetation while providing hands-on environmental education for underserved students and teachers $20,000
San Mateo County Resource Conservation District San Mateo Coast To construct, repair and enhance farm ponds for environmental, agricultural and economic benefits $40,000
Sustainable Conservation Santa Cruz County To develop metrics and incentive mechanisms to accelerate adoption of water management practices that balance sustained agricultural productivity with protection of natural resources $40,000

Donor Circle for the Environment Grantees - 2013

Organization Area Purpose Amount
Bay Area Climate Collaborative Bay Area To ensure that schools in low-income communities are able to maximize the benefits of clean energy investments $40,000
Canopy / Environmental Volunteers East Palo Alto To enable students to participate in inquiry-based science programs in the classroom combined with field trips to explore local ecosystems $15,000
Foundation for Youth Investment Bay Area To develop future leaders and meet the need for culturally diverse, qualified instructors in the outdoor education field $15,000
Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy San Mateo County To bring the Roving Ranger to San Mateo schools to introduce students to our parklands $10,000
Greenbelt Alliance Bay Area To help local conservation organizations address the threats facing the Bay Area’s greenbelt $40,000