After a full calendar year has passed, our worst case fears regarding the current administration’s intentions to roll back decades of environmental policy work and progress are being realized. The onslaught of reversals has been staggering. Worst of all, the intent is seemingly designed to enrich a minority of well-connected private sector interests with complete disregard as to what may be best for America’s long term interests—both environmentally and economically. At a time when global leaders must spearhead efforts to address climate change and protect biodiversity for future generations, America’s leaders seem intent on accelerating the rate of carbon emissions, extinction of species and degradation of our few remaining pristine ecosystems. All of this will simply make life more difficult and costly in the future.
While this Administration threatens to destroy decades of environmental law and policy, The Harder Foundation remains steadfast in our commitment to working with others to resist environmental rollbacks and to protect biodiversity in the face of a rapidly changing climate. We are careful to invest our grant dollars in strategies that maintain critical environmental protections, strengthen citizen muscle, and develop long term solutions.
Despite current challenges, we are pleased to have supported a number of successful initiatives over the past year. Our multi-year commitment to support campaigns aimed at restricting the expansion of fossil fuels in the Northwest resulted in a number of wins. Most impressive was the final denial of a permit to construct what would have been the country’s largest oil-by-rail terminal in Vancouver, Washington. Our rapid response program introduced during 2017, gave us the capacity to quickly place funding where it could make an immediate impact. Almost 6% of our total grant budget was allocated to this program and we made 9 grants to groups able to respond quickly to a new threat, opportunity or unanticipated event. Our place-based funding to support grassroots collaboration to manage public lands is getting traction. We are seeing appreciable progress in places where conservation groups are working with agencies and stakeholders to manage natural resources for ecosystem and economic benefits, with the long term goal of protecting and restoring public lands and waters.
For more information on our overall grant program, please refer to the 2018 Program Priorities page of this website.
Operationally, during 2017 the Foundation’s portfolio increased about 20% as a result of strong equity markets worldwide. After grants and administrative expenses, the Foundation’s asset level increased from $34.6 million at the beginning of the year to $38.1 million by year end. This growth in our endowment allowed us to boost our 2017 grant budget to $1,345,000, which was an appreciable increase from our initial annual grantmaking goal. This increased budget allowed us to make 47 grants in our core geographic areas. As we begin 2018, we are projecting a modestly higher grant budget for the year, as we are hopeful for another constructive year in global financial markets.
As always, I very much wish to thank all of our grantees for their fantastic work, particularly in these challenging times. We are deeply honored to support such admirable efforts and recognize the progress being made.
President, The Harder Foundation