Sustaining Environmental Systems Grant

Mortenson Family Foundation

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Grant amount: Unspecified amount

Anticipated deadline: Apr 10, 2020 2:00pm PDT (Letter of inquiry)

Applicant type: Nonprofit College / University

Funding uses: Education / Outreach, Research, Project / Program

Location of project: Minnesota

Location of residency: United States

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About this funder:



We seek to protect, conserve and restore biodiversity and habitat in Minnesota's watersheds in order to improve water quality.

In addition to our 11,842 lakes, Minnesota’s water flows to diverse drainages including the Great Lakes, Gulf of Mexico, and Hudson Bay. Water plays a critical role in Minnesota’s identity and economic framework, as well as supporting habitat that encompasses the diversity of wildlife in our state.

To achieve this goal, we believe:

  • Terrestrial and aquatic habitat and biodiversity are intricately connected to water quality. 
  • The greatest positive environmental impact on our water will occur by addressing the complex needs of land and water systems through a variety of strategies at a watershed scale.
  • Groundwater can be an important part of freshwater systems.
  • It is incumbent upon all of society--including individuals, private sector and public sector--to orient their habits, behaviors, and actions in a comprehensive way toward the health and sustainability of our watersheds.  
  • Because effective sustainable solutions are connected to society's relationship to natural systems, we will most effectively protect our fresh water systems when all segments of society have - and take - the opportunity to form personal relationships with nature and water.

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


  • Applicants must have 501(c)(3) nonprofit status.


  • We are most interested in partnering with nonprofit 501(c) (3) organizations that exhibit a majority of these characteristics:
    • Focus on sustainability by considering the ecosystem’s ability to provide ecosystem goods and ecosystem services in perpetuity.
    • Deliver multiple environmental outcomes and benefits, including, but not limited to, protecting and conserving habitats, storing carbon, and protecting at-risk species. Although not as high priority, organizations that focus on a specific watershed attribute for a single outcome will be considered.
    • Provide either direct service (i.e. land conservation, water quality improvements, agricultural interventions, etc) or builds capacity to affect positive change for a watershed through environmental education, research or policy.
    • Provide access to the benefit of their work.
    • Address issues at the scale of an entire watershed.
    • Work in partnership with private and public sectors, including across the political spectrum.
    • Ability to sustain programs and impact without continued funding from the Foundation.


  • Although they may complement the overall Foundation goal, the following strategies fall outside of our desired focus:
    • Research without a focus on watershed properties.
    • Conferences, festivals, and events 
    • Strategies that focus on watersheds outside of Minnesota.  The Foundation understands ecosystems are not defined by governmental boundaries and that projects outside the state may impact watersheds in Minnesota.  For example, if a project on the St. Croix River was focused only on benefitting a Wisconsin watershed, the project would fall outside of our desired focus.