Mitchell Foundation Grants

Cynthia & George Mitchell Foundation

Suggest an update

Grant amount: Unspecified amount

Deadline: Rolling

Applicant type: Nonprofit College / University

Funding uses: Education / Outreach, Project / Program

Location of project: Texas

Location of residency: United States

View website    Save


The Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation funds high‐impact projects in the state of Texas at the nexus of environmental protection, social equity, and economic vibrancy.

To accomplish our goals, we develop long-term, strategic guidelines for our grantmaking and make disciplined and intentional funding decisions based on these guidelines. We continually monitor and adjust our strategies to accommodate the evolving accomplishments and opportunities in the areas in which we work.

Current strategic grantmaking programs focus on the following initiatives:

Clean Energy

The Mitchell Foundation is committed to clean energy in the state of Texas and supports strategic efforts that ensure that the state’s growing demand for power is both minimized and met with the cleanest and water-leanest sources of electricity possible.

The foundation seeks to invest in initiatives that demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of Texas’s competitive electricity market structure and can leverage that knowledge to create innovative and effective energy policies that ensure reliability and resource adequacy while reducing the environmental and health impacts of power generation.

Texas has a tremendous opportunity to benefit from a new, green economy based on clean energy sources and proven energy efficiency measures. With abundant sun and wind, Texas is blessed with plentiful natural resources for clean energy generation. Our energy and engineering expertise and can-do attitude ensures that the state can capture its potential for increasing energy efficiency and reliance on renewable fuels.

The foundation is convinced that Texas can meet its projected growth in demand for electricity while simultaneously adding new jobs in the state and reducing air emissions and reliance on constrained water resources.

To achieve a clean and water-lean electricity market that emphasizes market drivers and fair prices, the foundation supports efforts that promote demand reduction, renewable resources, and grid and utility business model modernization. 

To achieve its strategic goals, the Clean Energy Program supports

  • efforts to bring an array of diverse, centrist-thinking communities to bear on clean energy policy issues;
  • policies and innovative mechanisms that increase cost-effective energy efficiency activities;
  • the development of renewable energy markets to help fill the gap in electricity supply;
  • reduced reliance on traditional coal-fired electricity production; and
  • continued in-depth analysis and policy development related to the energy-water nexus.

Shale Sustainability

George P. Mitchell was an early pioneer of shale gas discovery and production and is credited for making shale development commercially viable. He was considered an elder statesman in the industry, taking a leadership role in addressing the challenges of shale production. 

At the same time, George had a long history of supporting his keen interests in science and sustainability. Because of George's position in the oil and gas industry, environmental community, and science circles, the foundation is able to lend its voice to the ongoing dialogue and debate about shale development. 

The foundation focuses on improving the governance of shale development in addition to supporting efforts to reduce the negative environmental and community impacts of shale gas development.

The unresolved challenges related to shale development and natural gas can be divided into two broad categories.

The first set of questions involves natural gas as a fuel source, including to what extent fugitive methane emissions occur and how these emissions can be minimized and to what extent abundant natural gas displaces renewable energy and energy efficiency in electricity generation.

The second set of questions involves the risk of impact from hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling to develop shale formations. These technologies have a distinct risk to the environment and communities but these risks can be economically managed.

The Shale Sustainability Program supports a number of solution-driven strategies, including

  • examination of the interplay between federal, state, and local governance around shale development and protocol development to guide industry-community interactions;
  • comprehensive analysis of the risks associated with shale resource development, especially with respect to ground and surface water; and
  • support for collaborative and inclusive efforts to modernize the regulatory scheme for oil and gas operations in the state of Texas, which the foundation believes is needed because regulations may not have kept pace with the use of advanced drilling technologies.

Sustainability Education

Significant gifts from the Mitchells to the National Academy of Sciences in 1996 and 2001 to study the scientific merit of sustainability helped launch a new field of academic endeavor: Sustainability Science.

The sustainability science approach to solving complex environmental and social problems aims to bring together scholarship and practice, global and local perspectives, and disciplines across natural and social sciences.

An initial step in expanding the use of sustainability science is to educate a new generation of future leaders about the concept and its application. 

Texas provides an ideal “laboratory” for studying sustainability science, using its approach to solve real problems, and educating the next generation about the use of sustainability science tools to solve local and global challenges. 

The Sustainability Education Program utilizes the link between the foundation, the National Academy of Sciences, and the university community in Texas as the basis for supporting the creation of a statewide, state-of-the-art, university-based network of academic sustainability science programs. 


Consistent with the sustainability science approach that characterizes the foundation’s grantmaking, the Water Program aims to increase the scientific understanding of water issues in the state of Texas, which informs the design of effective policy approaches to ensure that the water quantity needs of the environment are met.

According to the 2012 State Water Plan, under certain conditions, Texas does not and will not have enough water to meet the needs of its people, its businesses, and its agricultural enterprises. 

The plan does not consider the water needs of the environment, but it is clear that sufficient water to meet these needs would not be available. The foundation takes the position that ensuring sufficient and clean water for both economic growth and the environment may be the most significant and urgent concern facing Texas in the next generation. 

Many of the most difficult issues of water management remain unaddressed despite the State Water Plan, new funding resources for water projects, and other governmental endeavors intended to address growing water needs and constraints in Texas.

To address these water management challenges and ensure adequate water supplies for the environment in Texas, the Water Program’s resources are deployed to

  • define the “grand challenges” of water management and the scientific, policy, and legal investigations necessary to address intractable questions;
  • increase water conservation in major Texas cities through urban water conservation programs and utility business model reform;
  • protect water resources in the Texas Hill Country through landowner engagement and a science-based identification of the most critical water resources;
  • ensure adequate instream flows and freshwater inflows to bays and estuaries through policy and innovative market efforts; and
  • achieve water and energy savings through in-depth analysis and policy development related to the energy-water nexus.

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


  • As a general rule, applicants should base their determination on three criteria.
    • The proposed project must align with a specific foundation program;
    • focus on the state of Texas; and
    • clearly demonstrate how the project supports the relevant foundation grantmaking strategy.
  • In rare cases, projects that are regional or national in scope with direct involvement in or impact on Texas will be considered.  


  • Projects that are viewed favorably by the foundation will contain a viable and sophisticated communications strategy for rolling out the results of the funded effort.


  • In general, the foundation is unable to provide grants to organizations that are not classified as 501(c)(3) public charities by the Internal Revenue Service.
  • The foundation does not support research unless it contains an explicit and practical policy application or outcome.
  • The foundation is unable to make grants intended to support candidates for political office or to lobby in support of or against legislation.
  • The foundation does not fund the research, development, commercialization, or demonstration of technology.
  • The foundation does not fund demonstration projects.