Bullitt Foundation

Bullitt Foundation


* Assets: $93,212,841 (2017)
* Grants Received: $371,200 (2017)
* Grants Awarded: $5,020,252 (2017)

The Bullitt Foundation (BF) was established in 1952 by Dorothy S. Bullitt (1892-1989), a prominent Seattle philanthropist and businesswoman who created the King Broadcasting Company. In 1992 the Foundation hired the internationally prominent environmentalist Denis Hayes as its president, a post he continues to hold.

Aiming to “safeguard the natural environment by promoting responsible human activities and sustainable communities in the Pacific Northwest,” BF focuses its philanthropy mainly on organizations based in coastal Alaska, British Columbia, Idaho, western Montana, Oregon, and Washington State.

With an emphasis on helping to create “equitable” living conditions, the Foundation apportions its grantmaking to the following major program areas:

1) Ecosystem Services: BF views free-market capitalism and societal prosperity as forces that are inherently destructive to the natural environment. In a “President’s Report” that was posted on the Bullitt Foundation’s website in the mid-2000s, for example, Denis Hayes wrote that while “it is an article of faith among economic conservatives that prosperity is good for the environment,” in reality “the richer the society, the more creatures it squeezes to the brink of extinction.” Backing efforts to “restore and protect the natural green infrastructure that provides ecological goods and services to the region’s major metropolitan areas,” BF funds numerous environmental organizations that seek to: “retain remaining natural areas and open space within or near major urban regions”; “restore or enhance the provision of ecosystem services in urban areas where past activities have harmed natural capital and ecological processes”; and “minimize urban demands for ecosystem services to reduce stress on natural systems and natural capital.”

Proceeding from the premise that the pollution associated with human industrial activity contributes to potentially catastrophic “climate change,” the Ecosystem Services program advocates the use of market mechanisms, taxes, fees, subsidies, and public education to complement regulation as environmental policy tools. Most notably, BF supportscap-and-trade approach to energy policy.

2) Energy and Technology: By means of this program, BF seeks to: promote regional policies that achieve “dramatic reductions in industrial energy use through conservation and efficiency”; “accelerate and maximize the installation of renewable energy technologies”; promote an ethic of “zero waste practices” that can motivate people to “reduce, reuse, recycle, and compost” all disposable materials; eliminate as much as possible the production and use of “toxic materials and biologically active pollutants”; advance the field of “green chemistry” to develop viable alternatives to substances that “harm human health and the environment”; and promote “innovative systems, fuels, and infrastructure” for commercial transportation systems.

3) Urban Ecology: This program laments that: automobiles and roads “dominate the landscape”; urban architecture “creates heat islands, obstructs sunlight, and affects the way rainwater is received and transported”; garbage dumps and sewage plants “centralize waste products, generally with too little recycling or composting”; and food and other products are commonly shipped around the world rather than being produced and distributed locally. To address these issues, BF awards grants to promote “progressive planning and smart growth”; “green architecture and ecologically sensitive urban design”; the construction of “efficient and reliable transportation systems”; “water conservation and efficiency”; “organic regional agriculture”; “environmentally friendly infrastructure and waste management”; and the minimization of “human exposure to toxic and biologically-active substances.”

4) Leadership & Civic Engagement: This BF program underwrites efforts to “develop the next generation of leaders” by providing the resources needed to recruit talented young people and train them to become skilled organizers, communicators, policy analysts, advocates, and fundraisers. A high priority is to attract people “from all racial, ethnic, and economic groups” into the environmental non-profit sector.

For information on some past BF programs, click here.

Among the Bullitt Foundation’s most noteworthy grantees are the Defenders of Wildlife, the Earth Day Network, the Earth Island Institute, the Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund, Ecotrust, the Environmental Defense Fund, Environmental Media Services, the Environmental Working Group, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace International, the League of Conservation Voters Education Fund, National Public Radio, the National Wildlife Federation, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Zero Population Growth (now called Population Connection), the Rainforest Action Network, the Sierra Club Foundation, the Tides Center and the Tides Foundation, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, the Wilderness Society, and the World Wildlife Fund.

To view a list of additional BF grantees, click here.

(Information on grantees and monetary amounts courtesy of The Foundation Center, GuideStar, ActivistCash, the Capital Research Center and Undue Influence)

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