- Assets: $20,955,814 (2017)
- Grants Received: $0 (2017)
- Grants Awarded: $6,233,100 (2017)
Established in 1981 and based in Easton, Maryland, the Town Creek Foundation (TCF) provides resources to help “catalyze, support, and accelerate progressive changes in environmental policy and practice within the State of Maryland.” In pursuit of these goals, the Foundation directs its philanthropy toward groups that promote “climate change mitigation” of a “transformational nature” by “hold[ing] polluters accountable” for their failure to reduce their own “greenhouse gas emissions.”
TCF’s environmental grants focus on the following particular areas of interest:
- “preserving the ecological richness of our natural heritage, with a major focus on the national forests of the Southern Appalachian region and the land, estuaries, and coastal bays of the mid-Atlantic region”;
- “modifying patterns of consumption and degradation of our natural resources, with a major focus on reducing pressure on our nation’s forests from the wood and paper industries”;
- “encouraging and empowering individuals, institutions, and communities towards more environmentally sustainable consumption patterns and practices”; and
- “enhancing the effectiveness of the environmental movement, with a major focus on strengthening the advocacy, outreach and institutional development.”
In recent years, TCF has awarded grants to such beneficiaries as the Center for Climate Strategies, Defenders of Wildlife, the Earth Action Network, the Earth Day Network, Earthjustice, Environmental Media Services, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, the League of Conservation Voters, the National Wildlife Federation, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Physicians for Social Responsibility, the Rainforest Action Network, the Sierra Club, the Tides Foundation & Tides Center, the U.S. PIRG Education Fund, the Waterkeeper Alliance, the Wilderness Society, and the Worldwatch Institute.
A member organization of the Peace and Security Funders Group, TCF supports, in addition to environmental causes, initiatives that “challenge and critique the [U.S.] military budget” or promote arms-control efforts of any type. Notable grantees in this realm include the Institute for Policy Studies, the Iraq Peace Fund, the Peace Action Education Fund, Physicians for Social Responsibility, the Tides Foundation & Tides Center, the Union of Concerned Scientists, United For Peace & Justice, and Win Without War.
TCF today operates 3 major programs:
(1) The Chesapeake Bay Program focuses on addressing the problem of pollution in that Maryland/Virginia-area watershed. In 2009 TCF praised President Barack Obama‘s issuance of an executive order which, by the Foundation’s telling, “established an unprecedented implementation and accountability framework for cleaning up the Bay.” Obama’s Order did this by establishing federal consequences for those states that failed to meet their pollution-reduction obligations in a timely manner.
(2) The Climate Change Program is founded on the premise that “there is no doubt within the scientific community that the earth is warming, that that warming is significantly caused by human actions, and that that warming may have catastrophic consequences if left unabated.” “If greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase at the present rate,” says TCF, “sea level will rise by over 2 feet along Maryland’s shoreline, causing the disappearance of islands and wetlands as well as increasing risk for coastal communities and some of the oldest parts of our historic port cities.” Town Creek aims to help Maryland exceed its greenhouse-gas-reduction goals by making grants “to help identify and pursue necessary new laws, policies and regulations.”
(3) The Sustainability Program asserts that in order to “brin[g] the environment into balance,” we must “reorganiz[e] the economy so that it can sustain itself on a finite planet.” This, says TCF, will require “fundamental transformations of the systems (including the value systems) by which everyday life is organized.” Preeminent amongst these are “the systems by which we create and consume energy, food, and materials.”
Stuart A. Clarke, who is also a national board member of Outward Bound USA and a trustee of the Chesapeake Bay Trust, has been TCF’s executive director since October 2004. In addition, Clarke has held leadership posts with the Center for a New American Dream, the Environmental Grantmaker’s Association, the Hands-On Network, and the Turner Foundation. Moreover, he has taught political science and American Studies at Yale University, Wesleyan University, and Williams College.
In the Fall of 2010, TCF’s board of trustees decided that they would spend the remainder of the Foundation’s endowment over the ensuing ten years and then close TCF’s doors permanently in about 2021.