- Assets: $60,790,735 (2017)
- Grants Received: $340,646 (2017)
- Grants Awarded: $2,858,563 (2017)
The Merck Family Fund (MFF) was established in 1954 by George W. Merck, president of the pharmaceutical corporation Merck & Company. From MFF’s inception, its mission was twofold: “to restore and protect the natural environment and ensure a healthy planet for generations to come, and to strengthen the social fabric and the physical landscape of the urban community.” Toward these ends, MFF currently administers two grant-making programs: “Sustaining Our Environment” and “Transforming Our Communities.”
- Sustaining Our Environment (SOE) welcomes proposals for “climate action plans” which “support state and regional policies in the Northeast and Southeast that provide incentives and subsidies for energy-efficiency implementation.” SOE particularly encourages “retrofits” that equip existing buildings with added insulation, better windows, and more-efficient heating and cooling systems.The SOE program also seeks to reduce “urban sprawl” and “resource extraction,” particularly in the Southeast, by means of “a combination of land protections and sustainable use policies to ensure clean air, clean water, and sustainability.”Moreover, SOE strives to “improve the environmental impact” of the “highly toxic, carbon-emitting, water-intensive, and forest-reliant” paper-production industry. Specifically, the program encourages an increase in the use of recycled paper, less reliance upon “large-scale distributions such as direct mail and catalogs,” and reduced levels of tree-cutting in “endangered forests.”
- Transforming Our Communities is a grant-making program designed “to empower low-income young people of color” to become “social justice leaders” who can effectively use “community organizing” techniques to bring about “systemic change in urban communities.”
Each year, MFF awards approximately 100 grants with an aggregate value of roughly $3 million. Most of these grants go to recipients located in New England and the mid-Atlantic states, though some are situated as far south as Florida and as far west as New Mexico. Among the more notable beneficiaries of Merck grants in recent years have been the Center for Climate Strategies, the Earth Day Network, Environmental Defense, Friends of the Earth, the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, the National Wildlife Federation, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Rainforest Alliance, the Tides Foundation and Tides Center, Trust for Public Land, the Union of Concerned Scientists, the U.S. Climate Action Network, and the Wilderness Society.
(For a comprehensive list of all MFF grantees in any given year, click on the year in question: 2006; 2007; 2008; 2009; 2010.)
Prior to his death (at age 62) in 1957, George W. Merck made it known that he wanted MFF’s board of trustees to consist, in perpetuity, exclusively of his own lineal descendants – a wish that his successors at the Fund have honored.