Program Area Priorities

The Mayer and Morris Kaplan Family Foundation is interested in supporting organizations and initiatives aimed at reducing the negative impacts of climate change in order to promote the health of people, places and the planet.

The effects of climate change continue to threaten global safety, security, health, and most critically, the future of our planet.  Prolific and irresponsible energy and mineral extraction and the continued use of and reliance on fossil fuels for energy have caused global temperatures to rise at an alarming rate – more than 1.4°F over the last century, and scientists project that Earth’s average temperatures will rise between 2 and 12 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100. [1]  Rising global temperatures impact weather and climate, evidenced by more intense rainfall, more frequent and severe heat waves, oceans becoming warmer and more acidic, melting ice caps, and rising sea levels.

Changes in average global temperature by even a degree or two can lead to serious consequences around the globe. For about every 2°F of warming, scientists expect:

  • 5—15% reductions in the yields of crops as currently grown
  • 3—10% increases in the amount of rain falling during the heaviest precipitation events, which can increase flooding risks
  • 5—10% decreases in stream flow in some river basins
  • 200%—400% increases in the area burned by wildfire in parts of the western United States [6]

Unchecked, climate change will drastically impact all aspects of our planet; however, growing research, smart policy, and bold innovations in science and technology offer promise for a strong and effective response.  To that end, the Foundation will support efforts aimed at developing clean energy policy and at promoting high-quality and scientifically accurate climate change education for young adults.  The Kaplan Foundation will prioritize being responsive to short-term threats and opportunities, using research and data to inform decisions, and being innovative in our approach to finding solutions.

Clean Energy Policy

The Kaplan Foundation is interested in organizations and programs doing the following work:

  • Use ballot initiatives, legislative action, or other advocacy and policy-focused measures aimed at developing or strengthening laws that will have a meaningful and positive impact on climate change
  • Work to reduce the use of fossil fuels, mitigating the negative impacts of fossil fuel extraction and delivery, and promoting renewable and clean energy
  • Work with local and state governments, municipalities, businesses, nonprofits, grassroots groups, and public utility commissions focused on addressing climate change through clean energy solutions

Climate Change Education

The Kaplan Foundation is interested in organizations and programs doing the following work:

  • Develop or disseminate climate change curriculum aimed at educating students about the imminent and profound effects of climate change
    • Curriculum or programs based on scientifically accurate information and in accordance with the Next Generation Science Standards
    • Focus on curriculum aimed at young adults – high school and college-level
  • Work with teachers, teacher unions, schools, school districts, and community-based organizations to promote climate change education
    • Training and ongoing professional development and support of teachers and educators responsible for developing and teaching climate change curriculum
    • Climate change education advocacy and policy aimed at increasing quality, availability and access, and scale
  • Provide climate change education to young adults with a focus on taking action, including leadership development and opportunities for participation in advocacy and policy efforts

Other Considerations and Criteria

  • Focus will be to find and fund opportunities where the Kaplan Foundation thinks it can be most effective and have its Trustees be most engaged; priority may be given to initiatives in states with high concentrations of Trustees (e.g., California, Colorado, Illinois) but all geographies will be considered.
  • Whenever possible, the Foundation is interested in partnering with other funders and stakeholders to leverage its resources.
  • The Foundation aims to use research and data to inform decisions and views itself as a learning organization. As new information becomes available, we incorporate findings and feedback from myriad stakeholders to inform our future grantmaking.
  • Trustees are looking to be proactive, responsive, flexible, and open to new and potentially risky endeavors. We hope to encourage and support innovative approaches to problem solving.

Please note that the application procedures and deadlines found elsewhere on this website do not apply to environment grantmaking. If your organization aligns with the Foundation’s environment priorities, please contact staff to discuss eligibility and application procedures.