Laird Norton Family Foundation Grant

Laird Norton Family Foundation

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Deadline: Rolling

Grant amount: Up to US $100,000

Fields of work: Renewable/Sustainable Energy Homelessness Services Freshwater Conservation Biofuels Energy Efficiency & Conservation Water Resource Management Youth Services Children’s Mental Health Child Foster Care & Adoption Services Environmental Stewardship Art Education Carbon / Greenhouse Gas Reduction Show all

Applicant type: Nonprofit, Indigenous Group

Funding uses: Project / Program, Education / Outreach, General Operating Expense

Location of project: Preferred: California, Oregon, Washington Other eligible locations: United States

Location of residency: United States

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Note: If you have thoroughly reviewed the Foundation’s priorities and grantmaking activity on the website and you believe your organization is a good match for our mission, you can fill out an information form here. Please be aware that the Foundation does not accept unsolicited proposals or formal letters of inquiry and rarely makes grants to organizations that we first learn about through the information form—so we urge you to carefully review your fit with our organization’s priorities before investing time in filling out our information form. Full applications may be submitted by invitation only.

Laird Norton Family Foundation

The Laird Norton Family Foundation (LNFF) is a private family foundation in Seattle, Washington, with a mission to 1) honor and reflect the family’s shared values through giving and 2) engage the family in philanthropy as a platform for strengthening family connections. 

The Laird Norton Family

The Laird and Norton families, related to each other from their pioneer origins in Pennsylvania, settled in Winona, Minnesota, in the mid-1850s. There, William Harris Laird and his cousins, Matthew G. Norton and James Laird Norton, formed the Laird Norton Company.

The pioneer logging and lumberyard operation was the first of several family-owned companies, first in the Midwest, later in the Pacific Northwest, and finally all over the West, including Alaska. Today, Laird Norton Company, LLC is still a privately owned and operated family business, committed to contributing value to its family and community.

A seventh-generation family, the Laird Norton family now includes approximately 500 living family members. Family members live throughout the world and occupy a wide array of professions. We come together every year to share skills and interests, and strengthen our connection to each other and our shared history.


Arts in Education

Goals and Strategies

The goal of the Arts in Education program is to increase arts education and to improve pre-K through grade 12 student learning through the arts. Funding will be directed toward programs that seek to enhance students’ educational outcomes rather than to simply increase participation in, or appreciation for, the arts.


The Arts in Education program will consider funding programs that:

  1. Encourage the adoption and/or growth of arts integration within a public school or school district. We will prioritize programs that integrate the arts as a tool within greater, diverse curriculum content areas over arts enrichment or direct arts instruction programs.
  2. Advocate systemic change within schools, districts, or at the state level to encourage arts in education, and
  3. Utilize the arts as a tool to reduce the educational achievement gap.

Why Take This Approach?

There is clear evidence to suggest that arts-integrated curricula and/or arts-rich environments are beneficial to student learning. Although we value the arts as a stand-alone experience, programs are most successful when:

  • They have the support of an entire district and in-school leadership
  • Teacher professional development is included in the program
  • Partnerships with high-quality arts organizations are created and nourished
  • Arts lessons are aligned with other student learning goals, and
  • Student progress is effectively monitored


With the above lessons in mind, we have established the following guiding principles. ​

  • K-12 public schools (or pre-K programs that receive public funding) must already have traction in arts programs (i.e. some arts education has already been established in the school, policies are in place to support arts in education, principals want a more robust arts program, and schools have support from parent groups (PTAs) to strengthen their arts programs). 
  • Programs must focus on positively impacting students’ learning.  
  • Programs must focus on students “doing” art, as opposed to observing art. Programs should enhance comprehensive, sequential delivery of arts instruction and can include all arts: performing, music, visual, theater, literary (poetry & writing), folk, media, and emerging art fields. 
  • Applicants should be able to demonstrate their program has been designed and is managed with an understanding of cultural competencies appropriate to their student demographic. 

Climate Change

Goals and Strategies

Climate change poses a significant global threat, one which we are addressing by striving to ensure an equitable, resilient, habitable, and enjoyable world for current and future generations. While our work is focused on climate change, we believe in the value of ecosystems services and in the stability and resiliency of healthy natural systems. We also believe it is essential that the cost of externalities be incorporated into lifestyle, policy, and business considerations.


As a small funder addressing an enormous issue, we aim to make grants that offer potential for leverage and scalability — as well as “opportunistic” grants where our ability to move quickly may positively impact a project’s outcome. We are particularly interested in policy and research work, demonstration projects, and finding ways to address critical gaps. We are also interested in expanding our own learning (we are not experts, nor do we aspire to be).

Why Take This Approach?

We believe in persistence and prefer to invest in ongoing work with a long-term focus. Although our grants operate on a one-year cycle, we take a partnership approach to our grantmaking and prefer to support organizations and projects that take a long-term view and can demonstrate progress toward goals each year. We are also interested in projects that have the potential to be self-sustaining in the long run.


Currently, our grantmaking is focused on efforts to hasten the demise of coal, and on work that increases the abilities of the forests, agricultural lands, and estuaries of the Pacific Northwest to sequester carbon. We are looking to support leverageable, measurable work focused on:

  • Regenerative biological systems that influence the carbon cycle (“biocarbon”)
  • ​Reducing dependency on fossil fuels, and promoting renewable energy and energy efficiency.  

Human Services

Goals and Strategies

The goal of the Human Services program is to support, empower, uplift, and create opportunities for long-term success and a brighter future for unaccompanied youth and young adults (age 12-24) who are in crisis, have experienced trauma, or are aging out of the foster care system. We want to support these youth and young adults in their journey from surviving to thriving.


We will consider funding organizations or programs that provide support for youth/young adults suffering from trauma, mental illness, or addiction, with priority given to homeless youth and those impacted by the foster care system. While the full spectrum of services for youth in crisis is essential, we expect to do the bulk of our grantmaking in two areas:

  1. Prevention and early intervention work to keep young people from sleeping in unsafe situations — or at a minimum make that a very brief and one-time occurrence, and
  2. Support for long-term stability support services.

Why Take This Approach?

We believe treatment and support for mental health issues and trauma can help prevent homelessness and addiction later in life. We also believe supporting youth/young adults as they transition out of foster care and into independent living increases their odds for a positive future.


Organizations must meet at least one of the following criteria in order to be considered:

  • Have leaders and/or staff that are representative of the community they serve. We believe that the best programs will have mentors and leaders that truly understand and can identify with those they serve (e.g., staff that have been homeless or in foster care or are open about their own mental health, trauma, or addiction struggles). We value organizations or programs that emphasize connection to and even emanate from the communities they seek to serve; those that embrace the mantra "nothing about us without us” in all aspects of their work.
  • Organizations or programs that include or connect to wrap-around services for youth/young adults. For example: organizations that identify and connect youth to community resources, offer job/skills training and/or provide case management. We value organizations that partner with others in the community to ensure all of a young person’s needs are met.

Sapling Fund

Goals and Strategies

The Laird Norton family continually promotes the advancement of intellectual growth, business experience, and philanthropic focus in order to ensure the excellence of its youngest generations. Through the Sapling Fund, young Laird Norton family members (ages 14–21) come together to learn about grantmaking, the nonprofit sector, and family philanthropy. The Sapling Fund provides young family members a chance to identify and support causes that resonate with them, and endows future family leaders with a sense of fiscal and social responsibility.


Sapling Fund grants are guided by a “for kids, from kids” philosophy. Grants support programs and organizations that cater specifically to youth and specific priorities change each year as new cohorts of Sapling members collectively identify shared priorities for the year’s grantmaking.

Why Take This Approach?

Sapling Fund committee members gain valuable experience by organizing an annual campaign to raise money for their grantmaking activities through contributions from Laird Norton family members. The annual budget supports three to five grant awards each year and an all-family service project organized by members of the committee.

Watershed Stewardship

Goals and Strategies

Watersheds have social, ecological, and economic significance. The goal of the Watershed Stewardship program is to create enabling conditions for long-term social and ecological health and resilience in places of importance to the Laird Norton Family.


We take a long-term view on healthy watersheds and invest in organizational capacity with an eye to future resilience. We encourage our partners to focus not on single-species recovery or restoration to historical conditions as a primary end-goal, but to also consider the potential value of significantly altered — but functioning — ecosystems as we continue to face the impacts of climate change and other natural and human-caused changes into the future.

​We seek to add value not just by making financial investments in organizations advancing place-based ecological and social outcomes, but also by building relationships in watershed communities, spending time listening and gaining experience in the watersheds in which we invest, and fostering partnerships, convenings, and additional investment from other funders.

Why Take This Approach?

We believe the wellbeing of the people who live in a place must be considered alongside ecological goals; understanding the diverse interests and values of a watershed’s human inhabitants is an important component of long-term success. ​


Organizations or programs we partner with should:

  • Possess the organizational capacity and skills to be well-positioned to secure much more significant funding for projects than we would ever be able to provide.
  • Be open to the Foundation removing barriers to entry for public funding and get projects to a shovel ready position.
  • Provide us with opportunities to invest in their abilities to develop strong governance structures, collaborate, mediate, facilitate, tackle sticky challenges, get paperwork in order, maintain momentum on big projects, and otherwise lay the groundwork for success.

While we don’t specifically commit to a set term of investment in any watershed, we believe that investing in a place long enough to really understand the work is important, and we believe that sustained and flexible funding enables greater long-term success for our partners. Although we make grants on a one-year cycle, we take a partnership approach to our grantmaking and hold a long-term view on the work being done in the watersheds we prioritize, but we do move on when we no longer have a necessary role to play.

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.


  • The Foundation makes grants to organizations located within the United States qualified under Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3) and classified as public charities (not private foundations) under Section 509(a). 


  • Arts in Education - Priority Will Be Given To:
    • Programs that include professional development opportunities for classroom teachers and teaching artists who are focused on arts education.
    • Programs that encourage development of additional partnerships and achieve goals with others such as community organizations, artists, parents, government entities, foundations, and school organizations where possible.
    • Programs which are sustainable, long-term, and potentially replicable. We hope to invest in programs that can contribute to the field as a whole.
  • Climate Change - Priority Will Be Given To:
    • Programs in Washington and Oregon. Although we may occasionally fund projects outside of the Pacific Northwest at the family’s discretion, we will not actively seek partnerships outside of the region.
    • Work that engages diverse stakeholders and builds strong strategic coalitions of historically uncommon partners.
    • Work that has the potential to leverage our relatively small contributions into outsized impact through policy change, market forces, or other mechanisms.
    • Work that has a demonstrated need for our support and can use our dollars as leverage.
    • Work that is measurable, has a demonstrable impact, and results in tangible outcomes.
    • Proven ideas and programs well-grounded in widely accepted science.
  • Human Services - Priority Will Be Given to Programs and Organizations That:
    • Work to build strong community for participating youth/young adults in ways appropriate to the individual’s situation. Examples could include identifying opportunities for family unification, supporting youths’ families with counseling services, or encouraging active contribution to the success of peers and the program.
    • Provide a “safe space” offering love and encouragement, as well as the long-term support of peers and community, with the goal of moving youth/young adults permanently out of homelessness.
    • Use a strength-based approach that builds on and celebrates existing assets of youth and young adults.
    • View participants holistically, acknowledging and providing support to address potential barriers to success.
    • Support youth/young adults during the latter years of foster care and those who have recently aged out of foster care.
    • Emphasize and provide lasting recovery support for youth/young adults who have experienced trauma and struggle with mental health issues and/or addiction. We believe lasting recovery is a process that takes time and investment and we want to support programs that provide stability.
    • ​​Finally, we recognize the significant over-representation of marginalized communities across all of these issues and are most interested in organizations that acknowledge and seek to address racial and social injustice in their work.
  • Watershed Stewardship - Priority Will Be Given To: Watersheds of significance to the Laird Norton family, where the work:
    • Is well-grounded in science.
    • Incorporates adaptive management (trying something out, testing the assumptions, adjusting as needed), ongoing monitoring and evaluation, and fosters strong community engagement in place; as there is clear evidence that the presence of these elements significantly increases long-term success toward ecological goals.
    • Is already in progress (or there interest is already in place) to prioritize actions throughout the watershed, and a degree of coordination amongst implementing organizations representing diverse interests.


  • No grants are made to religious institutions for religious purposes.
  • The Foundation does not provide grants for individuals, scholarships, endowments, capital campaigns, for-profit organizations, or unincorporated associations or groups.
  • We generally do not support publications, documentary films, television productions and the like.
  • From 2007–2016, LNFF awarded grants through our Global Fundamentals program, focused on improving the quality of life in developing countries through clean water and sanitation access, technology, and policy. The Foundation has since shifted focus to other areas of impact and no longer makes Global Fundamentals grants.
  • The Arts in Education Program Will Not Fund:
    • ​Individuals or artists’ work. However, programs can include artist-in-residence programs in pre-K–12 public schools, providing that the residency is part of an larger arts integration strategy focused on student learning;
    • One-time events (e.g., a field trip to the symphony or museum); 
    • Art performances without ongoing, hands-on opportunities for children and youth to participate. 
  • The Climate Change Program Will Not Fund:
    • Organizations that lack strong leadership, are inefficient, fail to partner with others where appropriate, or have a poor reputation among peers.
    •  Projects without a demonstrated need for our support: e.g. projects that could easily get the same funding from larger funders, the market, or government.
    • Work that runs contrary to widely accepted science or ignores science entirely.
    • Unleveraged/unscalable/one-off projects that don’t include plans for expansion, education, or other leverage. We don’t want to subsidize short-term thinking.
    • We will occasionally make grants for work falling outside of these stated guidelines at the family’s request.
  • The Human Services Program Will Not Fund:
    • Organizations that focus only on short-term rehabilitation to mental health, addiction, and homelessness issues
    • Event sponsorships
    • Scholarships
    • Individuals
    • Capital campaigns
  • The Watership Stewardship Program Will Not Fund:
    • Specific implementation projects (except in cases of high-leverage opportunity in watersheds in which we are already invested). Exceptions may be made in instances where we value prioritization, and only consider projects that are part of watershed-wide prioritization plans.


This page was last reviewed June 16, 2022 and last updated June 16, 2022