The Surdna Foundation seeks to foster sustainable communities in the United States - communities guided by principles of social justice and distinguished by healthy environments, strong local economies and thriving cultures. We seek to dismantle the structural barriers that limit opportunity for many, helping to create communities that are prosperous, culturally enriching, and sustainable.
We make grants in three areas:
The Sustainable Environments Program works to overhaul our country’s low performing infrastructure, much of it outdated and crumbling, with a new approach that will foster healthier, sustainable, and just communities. We believe in the potential of what we call “next generation infrastructure” to improve transit systems, make buildings more energy efficient, better manage our water systems and rebuild regional food systems.
The Strong Local Economies program supports the development of robust and sustainable economies that include a diversity of businesses and access to quality jobs. We work to spur the growth of local businesses, encourage equitable economic development, and improve the quality and availability of jobs for low-income people, communities of color, immigrants, and women.
The Thriving Cultures program believes that communities with robust arts and culture are more cohesive, prosperous and benefit from the rich cultural diversity of their residents. We support efforts to encourage teens to explore the arts, involve artists in community development projects and foster the growth and success of local artists as economic engines and agents for social change.
The Foundation works to build strong ties across all three programs as we recognize how they depend on each other to create just and sustainable communities. If you believe your work makes a strong connection between two or more of our programs (Sustainable Environments, Strong Local Economies and Thriving Cultures), please apply to the program that you feel is the strongest fit and then explain how it meets the objectives of our other program(s). Please review the guidelines for each program to help you determine where you should apply.
In addition to our three core programs, Surdna works to:
Initiated in 2008, the Foundation has had a longstanding commitment to help the New Orleans area with its long-term rebuilding needs caused by the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. Five years later, that commitment still stands but we are now aligning our New Orleans grantmaking strategies with the objectives of our three core program areas: Strong Local Economies, Sustainable Environments and Thriving Cultures. Applicants may consider applying for New Orleans-focused funding based on alignment with one or more of our three programs and must meet their guidelines.
Surdna has a long history of supporting and building the capacity of the nonprofit sector through our Capacity and Infrastructure Fund. Reflecting our core values and mission, these grants aim to promote the highest standards of philanthropy and ensure transparency, accountability and integrity. We make a small number of grants in this category and are unable to accept applications.
We make both project and general support grants and accept letters of inquiry on a rolling basis. Because we receive far more letters of inquiry than we are able to support, we can only invite a limited number of applicants to submit a full proposal. Full proposals are requested by our staff and reviewed by the Foundation’s board of directors in March, July, or December. If we invite your organization to apply, the Foundation staff will work with you to determine the best possible timing for the board to consider your proposal.
We do not fund individuals, capital projects or campaigns, endowments, building construction, academic fellowships, or projects that are internationally based or focused.