Water is essential for life, yet most people know little about its sources, uses and management. Many water and sewer pipes are more than half a century old and unable to handle rising stormwater levels. The result? Wasted resources, greater health risks, and the potential for flooding and polluted waterways.  The Sustainable Environments Program supports innovative stormwater run-off practices that capture and slowly release water into existing drains, pipes and sewers, or reuse rain water where it falls (sometimes called “green infrastructure”) instead of building expensive pipes and sewer tunnels.

What we fund:

We seek funding opportunities that:

  • Create pilot projects or expand promising projects in cities and metro areas that demonstrate innovative stormwater management practices. We are particularly interested in cities that are responding to federal regulatory action regarding stormwater management. We also seek green infrastructure solutions that create quality jobs, businesses, and other equitable economic benefits, as well as those that engage the community in design decisions.
  • Inform and build capacity of community organizers, public leaders, practitioners, private investors and others in the water field.  We are particularly interested in new stormwater fee structures, public private partnerships, and the development of small scale, distributed (neighborhood level) water retrofit projects.  In addition, we seek design and implementation practices that focus on equity issues and that engage and benefit the communities served. We are also interested in research that will fill critical policy and innovative finance information gaps and support the development of best practices.

We give preference to efforts that:

  • Prioritize efforts that benefit low-income communities and people of color, such as affordable utility bills, increased property values, etc.;
  • Connect anti-poverty strategies and economic benefits (jobs and business opportunities) to nearby communities;
  • Integrate urban water system improvements with other infrastructure needs (e.g., green infrastructure that complements the build out of transportation networks or is done in parallel with building energy retrofits);
  • Engage the community in design and policy considerations;
  • Bring together networks and collaborations in order to share best practices and learning in this emerging field.
  • Seek innovative ways to create lasting systems that leverage public and private investments.

How to apply:

If you are interested in applying for a Surdna Foundation grant, please submit a letter of inquiry by clicking here. Please note: We can only support organizations that meet our guidelines listed under "What we fund."

Note:  The language on this page is an attempt to share our thinking and we recognize that we may not be using the same words and terms as many of you doing the work. We encourage you to use the language and frameworks you have defined for yourself.

Program Related Investments

Surdna's Program Related Investment Fund supports the foundation’s mission by providing investment capital to fund innovations that use market-based approaches to address economic, cultural, and environmental challenges.

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Fostering sustainable communities in the United States — communities guided by principles of social justice and distinguished by healthy environments, strong local economies, and thriving cultures.