- Assets: $46,228,653 (2014)
- Grants Received: $0 (2014)
- Grants Awarded: $5,210 (2014)
Known until 2010 as the Global Resource Action Center for the Environment (GRACE), the New York-based GRACE Communications Foundation (GCF) was established in 1996 by the environmentalist/philanthropist Helaine Lerner, who continues to serve as the organization’s president. In its early years, GRACE/GCF was a member of the Abolition 2000 network and the Peace and Security Funders Group. A key member of the GRACE/GCF advisory committee at that time was the anti-nuclear activist David Krieger.
In November 1999 in Seattle, GRACE/GCF co-sponsored an anti-World Trade Organization forum titled “The WTO and the Global War System,” an event that examined “the links between economic globalization, the WTO and militarism.”
In 2000, GRACE/GCF endorsed a newly drafted document called the Earth Charter, which lamented the existence of economic inequality and blamed capitalism for many of the world’s environmental, social, and financial problems.
In its early years as well, GRACE/GCF administered a Factory Farm Project (FFP) that sought to discredit industrial agriculture as a salutary means of food production, with the implicit intention of eliminating it altogether. To this end, the FFP initiated a variety of community outreach programs aimed at exciting grassroots opposition to factory farms among disaffected farmers and left-wing activists.
Another major GRACE/GCF campaign was its Nuclear Abolition Project, which sought to eliminate nuclear weapons from the arsenals of all nations worldwide; the project was disbanded in 2007.
GCF’s principal mission today is to “increase public awareness of the critical environmental and public health issues created by our current industrial food system and to advocate for more sustainable alternatives.” In pursuit of these objectives, GCF administers several major programs:
(1) The Sustainable Table program was established in 2003 to “empower” people “to change the [existing] food system as savvy consumers and well-informed advocates.” Like the aforementioned Factory Farm Project, Sustainable Table claims that large-scale industrial agriculture/factory farming is an environmental nightmare that:
- compromises public health by “contaminating ground and surface water [and] releasing harmful pollutants into the air;
- poses great danger to the biodiversity of plant and animal species across the globe;
- is dominated by “large, profit-driven companies which view animals as units of production, rather than [as] living creatures, and put efficiency and profits ahead of animal health and welfare”;
- commonly “creates an economic downturn” in communities where large farms replace small farms;
- fosters the overuse of antibiotics that are “responsible for drug-resistant bacteria emerging on farms [and subsequently reaching] the general population through … the food consumers eat”;
- routinely injects livestock with growth hormones whose “residues in meat and milk are harmful to human health, animal health, and the environment”;
- makes extensive use of pesticides that “have been linked to a number of health problems, including neurologic and endocrine … system disorders, birth defects, cancer, and other diseases”; and
- uses potentially dangerous genetic engineering techniques that involve “the transfer of specific traits, or genes, from one organism into a plant or animal of an entirely different species.”
Sustainable Table also asserts that “the global food system—including deforestation to make way for crops for cattle and cars—is responsible for an estimated one-third of total greenhouse gas emissions” that contribute to potentially catastrophic “climate change.” In addition, Sustainable Table seeks to ensure that “undocumented immigrants” who work on farms receive “fair wages” and adequate “benefits” in exchange for their labor.
(2) The Water program, which was launched in 2008, features a collection of tools, tips, and information designed to help individuals conserve water on a daily basis. The program is best known for its Water Footprint Calculator, an interactive tool that allows people to estimate their water usage and learn how to reduce their “water footprints.”
(3) In a similar vein, the FoodPrint project aims to make consumers aware of the size of their so-called “foodprint” — i.e., “the result of everything it takes to get your food from the farm to your plate.” As GCF explains: “Industrial food production — from animal products like beef, pork, chicken and eggs to crops — takes a tremendous toll on our soil, air and water, as well as on the workers and the surrounding communities.” To counteract that toll, GCF offers “tips, tools and guides for helping you make food choices that can help you eat in line with your values–and shrink your foodprint” vis-a-vis the quantity of greenhouse gases that are emitted in the process of producing the food that one eats.
(4) The Energy program promotes the development and use of “clean” and “renewable” energy in the form of wind and solar power. It also educates consumers about the purportedly negative environmental effects of conventional energy derived from fossil fuels. Moreover, the program opposes the use of hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) as a means of harvesting natural gas and oil, on the premise that this method of resource extraction may contaminate groundwater in the vicinity.
To view a list of additional key projects funded by GCF, click here.