Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation awards $20 million in environmental grants

Photo Credit: John Hassett

The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation  announced today its largest-ever portfolio of environmental grants, increasing the organization’s total direct financial impact to over $80 million since 1998. 

The new grants, $20 million to more than 100 organizations, have been awarded for wildlife and habitat conservation, to aide in the defense of indigenous rights, and to support innovative grass roots efforts aimed at combating climate change and solving complex environmental issues. These grants support the work of LDF partners around the world that range from major environmental organizations, to local partners who are fighting to protect and defend vital ecosystems, threatened species and at risk communities which are gravely impacted by an array of environmental crises including climate change.

During remarks delivered to a climate change conference at Yale University, hosted by former Secretary of State John Kerry’s Kerry Initiative, LDF Founder and Chairman Leonardo DiCaprio announced the grants, saying: “We are proud to support the work of over 100 organizations at home and abroad. These grantees are active on the ground, protecting our oceans, forests and endangered species for future generations – and tackling the urgent, existential challenges of climate change.”

Mr. DiCaprio went on to push for urgent action to drive a large-scale, global shift from a reliance on fossil fuels to a world powered by renewable energy, saying: "There exist today many proven technologies in renewable energy, clean transportation, and sustainable agriculture, that we can begin to build a brighter future for all of us."

Our challenge is to find new ways to power our lives, employ millions of people and turn every individual into an advocate for clean air and drinkable water. We must demand that politicians accept climate science and make bold commitments before it is too late.

Terry Tamminen, CEO of LDF commented, “This round of grants comes at a critical time. With a lack of political leadership, and continued evidence that climate change is growing worse with record-breaking heatwaves and storms, we believe we need to do as much as we can now, before it is too late.” 

The following grants were announced today across six areas: climate change, wildlife and landscape conservation, marine life and ocean conservation, innovative solutions, indigenous rights, and the California program:

Climate Program – $3,573,562 

LDF’s Climate Program is built on a strategy of action that accelerates the best solutions to climate change like the global transition to 100% renewable energy by 2050. LDF also places a priority on protecting ecosystems that serve an important role in mitigating climate change. We support organizations and efforts that not only protected and restored these critical habitats, but also improved the lives of participating local and indigenous communities.

Highlighted grantees include:

·  Solutions Project:The Fighter Fund and Leadership Fund providing direct grants to community organizations across the United States who are fighting for 100% renewable energy

·  RE-volv: Providing solar financing to non-profits through innovative crowdsourcing

·  SunFunder: Beyond the Grid Solar Fund – Innovative funding vehicle providing affordable access to solar in developing countries in Africa and South Asia

·  Adeso: Mitigating the effects of climate change through mangrove re-planting in Somalia

·  WildCoast: Protecting mangrove forests in Baja, Mexico

·  The Collective Action Fund (Resources Legacy Fund): to support precedent-setting legal actions to hold major corporations in the fossil fuel industry liable for the effects of climate change pollution

·  Interfaith Power & Light: An initiative working to encourage congregations to cut their emissions in half by 2030, and 100% by 2050

·  Energy Independence Now: Encouraging the adoption and expansion of renewable hydrogen infrastructure zero emission vehicles

Wildlife and Landscape Conservation Program – $6,360,000

LDF is protecting endangered wildlife by enabling cutting-edge, results-driven conservation and restoration projects in the world’s most biodiverse ecosystems. Only 12% of the world’s forests and natural wildlands are protected. As global demand increases for timber, fossil fuels, minerals, and agricultural products like palm oil, rubber and soy, corporations are encroaching deeper into the world’s last wild places. The foundation’s grant making strategy aims to improve the future for vulnerable wildlife on land by protecting and restoring natural habitats, ending poaching in critical regions, and reintroducing native species back into the wild. At the same time, the foundation’s partners on the ground work with local governments and communities to build successful, long-term solutions that benefit all stakeholders.

Highlighted grantees include:

·  Lion Recovery Fund (Wildlife Conservation Network): A new initiative investing in the most innovative and effective projects across Africa that can recover lions and restore their landscapes

·  Elephant Crisis Fund (Wildlife Conservation Network & Save the Elephants): Supporting the best ideas and efforts to protect elephants, end the trafficking of ivory and stop the demand

·  Leuser Ecosystem Action Fund (Sumatran Orangutan Society): Investing in a range of strategies to secure the long term preservation of the Leuser ecosystem in northern Sumatra

·  Quick Response Biodiversity Fund (RESOLVE): A rapid response fund to secure, expand and connect landscapes critical to protecting biodiversity

·  Congo Basin Institute at UCLA:  Conservation in the Congo Basin through the Bouamir Research Station

·  Tomkins Conservation: Restoring Jaguars to the Ibera National Park in Argentina 

·  Amazon Biodiversity Center: Conservation research efforts in the Brazilian Amazon 

·  Jane Goodall Institute: Creating a conservation action plan for the Malian chimpanzee population

·  Maasai Wilderness Trust: Working with the local Maasai community to conserve critical wildlife and wilderness in Kenya

·  American Prairie Reserve: Building a new large scale protected area in the northern shortgrass prairie

·  Sequoia ForestKeeper: Protecting and preserving the Giant Sequoia National Monument and ecosystems of the southern Sierra Nevada

·  Fund for Wild Nature: Support for a network of grassroots groups working to protect wildlife and wild places throughout North America

Marine Life & Oceans Program – $3,756,000

LDF is working to improve ocean health and protect key ocean ecosystems and marine wildlife by supporting innovative projects in underserved areas. Oceans provide half of the world’s oxygen supply, regulate the global climate system, and directly support the life of nearly 50% of all living species, yet only 3% are formally protected. LDF’s partners are working to safeguard endangered ocean habitats and species, constrain overfishing, and empower local fishing communities. 

Highlighted grantees include:

·  Global Partnership for Sharks and Rays: Halting overexploitation, reversing declines, restoring populations, and preventing extinctions of the world’s sharks and rays

·  Mares Mexicanos: Generating local and governmental support to expand the Revillagigedo Islands marine reserve

·  National Geographic’s Pristine Seas: Exploring and protecting the last wild places in the ocean through science and compelling visual media

·  Oceans 5: Establishing marine reserves and combatting illegal fishing in all five oceans around the globe

·  California Waterkeepers: Protecting California’s coastal waters through municipal stormwater monitoring and integrated water management 

Innovation, Media & Technology Program (IMT)– $4,077,568

LDF’s Innovation, Media & Technology Program has three distinct portfolios. The Innovation portfolio consists primarily of grants to leading scientists, think tanks and NGOs, supporting the development of a new data-driven vision for the future in which human and natural systems harmoniously coexist. The Media portfolio funds prize-winning environmental journalism and communications efforts focusing on climate change, sustainable agriculture, and conservation efforts around the world. The Technology portfolio invests in cutting-edge technologies to accelerate conservation planning and implement digital tools to protect at-risk environments and communities. 

Highlighted grantees include:

·  Carnegie Airborne Observatory: Aerial mapping of biodiversity to advance conservation planning

·  Center for Large Landscape Conservation: Task force to create a new ‘Global Deal for Nature’

·  Digital Democracy: A mobile toolset for indigenous-led mapping efforts

·  Daily Climate: Turning hard science into climate change policy advances

·  Global Canopy Programme: TRASE, a big data dashboard for supply chain tracking 

·  Mongabay: Global reporting on at-risk environments and communities

·  Our Climate: A bold campaign to put a price on carbon

·  Project Drawdown: 100 solutions to reverse global warming

·  RESOLVE: Trailguard ground sensors for advanced conservation monitoring

·  World Resources Institute: Global Forest Watch Biodiversity Initiative

Indigenous Rights Program– $796,500

LDF supports indigenous communities who are on the front lines defending their lands, water, people and culture from mounting pressures. Around the world, the seizure of land for fossil fuel extraction and oil pipelines, and the clearing of forests for the exploitation of resources like timber, minerals and palm oil not only impacts the planet’s ecosystems – it also ravages countless indigenous and local communities. LDF funds indigenous led programs that teach local leaders how to map and document their territories, defend their indigenous rights, implement renewable energy solutions, develop sustainable livelihoods, and increase the impact of their public advocacy efforts.

Highlighted grantees include:

·  Standing Rock Sioux Tribe: Supporting the Tribe’s effort to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline

·  Peoples Action Institute Project: Supporting the Great Sioux Nation’s effort to restore traditional Native practices of water and land management.

·  Pine Ridge Girl's School: A curriculum on “The Politics of Water” which empowers Lakota youth to protect their water and lands

·  Indigenous Leadership Initiative: Strengthening Indigenous Guardians Programs across Canada  

·  Southeast Alaska Indigenous Transboundary Commission:  Supporting the Indigenous effort to stop large-scale mining development in the sacred headwaters of southeast Alaska

·  Indigenous Climate Action: Working to prioritize Indigenous peoples and communities as agents of change for climate change solutions in Canada 

·  Indigenous Environmental Network: Building capacity of Indigenous communities and tribal governments to fight exploitation 

California Program – $1,436,750

LDF has begun supporting local efforts in Los Angeles and across the State of California to make the transition to fully sustainable food, energy, and infrastructure systems possible. We are supporting pioneering innovators and grassroots leaders who are implementing new solutions and tackling the barriers to transformation. These breakthrough initiatives can serve as models to be replicated across the U.S. and the world.

Highlighted grantees include:

·  Carbon Cycle Institute: Scaling carbon farming and regenerative agriculture in California

·  Community Services Unlimited: South Central’s first beyond organic marketplace

· From Lot to Spot: Building healthy community-designed green spaces in low-income neighborhoods in Los Angeles

·  Center for Third World Organizing (formerly People’s Grocery): Rebuilding communities through a farming apprenticeship program 

·  Comite Civico Del Valle: Expanding air monitoring across the Imperial Valley, an area impacted by rampant pollution

·  Liberty Hill/STAND LA: A coalition of organizations working to protect the health and well-being of local communities living in close proximity to oil drilling sites in Los Angeles

·  National Wildlife Federation: Supporting the development of a wildlife crossing in the Los Angeles area that is critical to the survival of California’s mountain lion population

·  California Wildlife Center: Rehabilitating the marine mammal facilities

·  TreePeople: Transforming the LA region into a model of water security and climate-resiliency 

Last updated September 19, 2017

Through collaborative partnerships, we support innovative projects that protect vulnerable wildlife from extinction, while restoring balance to threatened ecosystems and communities. Our work is divided into six main program areas – Wildlands Conservation, Oceans Conservation, Climate Change, Indigenous Rights, Transforming California, and Innovative Solutions.

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