Note: This grant page has been archived and is very likely out of date.

Sustainable Environments Program

Surdna Foundation

Grant amount: US $25,000 - US $500,000

Deadline: Rolling

Applicant type: Nonprofit

Funding uses: Applied Project / Program, General Operating Expense

Location of project: Georgia, Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas Expand all

Location of residency: Georgia, Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas Expand all

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NOTE: This page has been archived. See the updated page for Surdna Foundation Grants here.

What We Fund

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.

Our Approach

  • We view grantmaking as part of a larger effort to build the capacity of the field, spark innovative ideas, and connect stakeholders.
  • We place a high value on sharing best practices and learnings with others in the field.
  • We respect all grantseekers by demonstrating transparency, responsiveness and courtesy.
  • We invest in new and emerging ideas that bring others to the table but at the same time, we recognize the importance of long-term and sustained commitments.
  • We strive to be responsive to the best thinking and ideas in the field and apply that to our work.

Sustainable Environments

The Sustainable Environments Program is working to overhaul our country’s outdated and crumbling infrastructure with a new approach that will foster healthier, sustainable, and just communities.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. Focusing on urban areas and their surrounding suburbs, we seek solutions that connect and improve these infrastructure systems in ways that maximize positive impacts and minimize negative environmental, economic and social consequences.

Our infrastructure systems are overburdened by increased demand, extreme weather, and shrinking public budgets. The urgency and opportunity behind this challenge is driving us to look at our past grantmaking efforts around smart growth, climate and energy, and green economies through a lens of next generation infrastructure. Currently, many decisions about infrastructure repair and replacement are disjointed, short on authentic community engagement, and limited to traditional engineering approaches that waste money, restrict opportunity and damage the environment. By taking a systems-based approach, we can deliver better services to more people to the benefit of the environment and economy.

The Sustainable Environments Program seeks to create just and sustainable economies in four ways:

Sustainable Transportation Networks & Equitable Development Patterns

We support clean, affordable, equitable, high-quality and efficient transportation and land use development that better connects critical services, jobs, schools, housing and other regional destinations.

View Guidelines

Just Energy: Shifting Power to People

We support energy system solutions as the means to build power and leadership in low-wealth communities and communities of color.

Urban Water Management

We support efforts to capture storm water and slowly release it into the existing network of drains, pipes and sewers, or reuse it where it falls to cultivate natural green spaces.

View Guidelines

Regional Food Supply

We support ways to make it easier to get local, sustainably produced food from our farms to the markets closest to where it’s grown, and to better connect food producers and consumers.

View Guidelines

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


  • Nonprofit organizations must generally have a valid tax exemption status under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and be classified as a public charity and not as a "private foundation" under Section 509(a)
  • Surdna makes grants throughout the United States.
  • We seek organizations that:
    • Promote meaningful collaborations and an integrated approach to infrastructure solutions (i.e., ways in which transportation, energy, water, and food systems can be combined);
    • Focus on infrastructure decisions that better meet the needs of historically underserved communities including low-income communities and people of color;
    • Promote long-term solutions and leverage strategic infrastructure investments;
    • Highlight, especially through communications, the multiple benefits of next generation infrastructure.
  • We also believe that the Foundation’s three programs are strongly interrelated and necessary to create just and sustainable communities. We therefore encourage cross-cutting proposals that connect to the work of the Foundation’s Strong Local Economies and Thriving Cultures programs.


  • Generally, the Sustainable Environments Program does not fund:
    • Infrastructure solutions related to the waste and telecommunications sectors;
    • Programs related to toxics or hazardous waste;
    • Land and habitat conservation;
    • Animal welfare;
    • Biodiversity, natural resource or ocean management;
    • Capital campaigns or investments;
    • Individuals or academic fellowships.
  • Funding Exclusions
    • We generally do not fund individuals, capital campaigns or building construction, or projects that are internationally based or focused.
    • We do not make grants that are internationally-based or focused, nor do we fund grants in US territories outside of the 50 states.

About this funder:

View past grantees & full 990 summary