February 4, 2015| Business Partnerships
Photo courtesy of CSX

Investing in Diverse Communities

wf-rgb-highlight-62pxWells Fargo, one of the nation’s largest financial institutions, came from humble beginnings as a small regional bank serving its neighbors and supporting its community. Throughout its growth and success, that sense of community has remained at the heart of Wells Fargo’s values. Wells Fargo collaborated with The Conservation Fund to strengthen local communities where its customers and team members live and work.


  • Reach diverse communities and disadvantaged business owners across the country.
  • Provide support that yields social, economic and environmental benefits.

Solutions in North Carolina

Through its Wells Fargo Works for Small Business: Diverse Community Capital (DCC) program, aimed at serving diverse-owned small businesses, Wells Fargo $2.1 million in loan and grant funds to the Natural Capital Investment Fund (NCIF), an affiliate of The Conservation Fund that provides lending and advisory services to locally-owned green enterprises in disadvantaged communities in Central Appalachia and the Southeast. Funding from Wells Fargo will help African-American farmers and small business owners increase access to financial resources, diversify their enterprises and build greater financial stability, resulting in stronger local communities and the responsible use of natural resources.

“NCIF recognizes that the growth and success of diverse businesses focused on triple bottom line results is good for communities, our economy and the environment. We're thrilled to be recognized by and partner with Wells Fargo to grow the next generation of African-American and minority entrepreneurs.”
Marten Jenkins, President and CEO, Natural Capital Investment Fund (NCIF)   

Results in North Carolina

The Wells Fargo DCC program will help people like James Joyner of Faison, North Carolina, a disabled African-American U.S. Army veteran who transformed his family farm from a labor of love to a profitable enterprise. NCIF helped him develop financial projections for his business and connected him with an innovative North Carolina company that enables him to graze his herd of sheep on solar farms and helps market his lamb. NCIF'S loan helped Joyner expand his herd, upgrade pastures and fencing, and build a lambing shed. Today, Joyner’s farm is profitable, and he sells his grass-fed, antibiotic-free lamb to a well-known national organic and natural foods grocery chain.

“Wells Fargo is proud to support NCIF and the work they are doing. Investing in our communities is one of the most important things we can do as a company and directly connects with our vision and values. At Wells Fargo, we believe that we’re responsible for promoting the long-term economic prosperity and quality of life for everyone in our communities. If they prosper, so do we.”

– Jack Clayton, Piedmont East Regional President for Wells Fargo

The Roger Outlaw farm is funded by the ShadeFund – a project of the The Conservation Fund’s Natural Capital Investment Fund (NCIF). In May 2016, Wells Fargo provided $1.6 million to NCIF.  As a result, we will expand access to lending and business advisory services for African American farmers and small business owners, primarily in Eastern North Carolina. 

Solutions in Alaska

In Alaska, Wells Fargo and The Conservation Fund collaborated to support Native communities. Here, Wells Fargo donated 143 acres of culturally and historically significant land adjacent to the Native Village of Eklutna to the Fund for permanent preservation. The donation was part of Wells Fargo’s Environmental Solutions for Communities grant program.

“This land is the centerpiece of an ongoing effort to protect and restore the lands and waters of great cultural and environmental value to the Eklutna people. We are pleased to work with Wells Fargo and Eklutna, Inc., and we applaud the corporate leadership and community appreciation for this wonderful and important conservation accomplishment.”

Larry Selzer, President and CEO, The Conservation Fund

Results in Alaska

Approximately 25 miles northeast of Anchorage, the land donated by Wells Fargo preserves the way of life of Native people. Situated in the heart of Dena’ina Athabascan country where Alaska Native people have lived for thousands of years, this culturally and historically significant land remains a place for traditional subsistence activities such as hunting, fishing, and berry picking. Hills on the property are also revered as sacred grounds where ancestors’ ashes are spread, and a unique granite formation on the land was the inspiration for the Native village’s name. Its permanent preservation honors the legacy of the Native people and helps future generations cultivate a connection to the land and their ancestral identity.

“When we got the word…we were thrilled and filled with such emotion that it took several days for the news to sink in. We are grateful for the vision and respect shown by Wells Fargo toward the Dena’ina people.”
                          – Curtis McQueen, CEO, Eklutna, Inc.

The Native Village of Eklutna is situated 25 miles northeast of Anchorage, AK and lies in the heart of Dena’ina Athabascan country. Alaska Native people have lived in Eklutna for thousands of years and the local hills are revered as sacred grounds where their ancestors’ ashes are spread. Wells Fargo donated 143 acres of land adjacent to the Native Village of Eklutna to The Conservation Fund for permanent land and habitat preservation. 

Looking Forward

From remote tribal lands in Alaska to rural farms in Appalachia, our long-standing relationship with Wells Fargo advances conservation at the local level for a greater impact. We will continue to help Wells Fargo find new ways to invest in diverse communities that pay big dividends for our society, our economy and our environment.


February 4, 2015| Business Partnerships

Going the Extra Mile for Environmental Stewardship 

Williams logoFor some infrastructure projects, it’s not always enough to minimize the impact of new roads or pipelines. Williams, a leading operator of pipeline infrastructure in the U.S., recognized its Atlantic Sunrise project in Pennsylvania would have a big impact, so it set out to exceed expectations. That’s when Williams turned to The Conservation Fund to develop an environmental stewardship program for its Transco pipeline that will enable the company to identify, rank and support measurable and lasting projects important to wildlife and communities across the Atlantic Sunrise project area in Pennsylvania. The Atlantic Sunrise Environmental Stewardship program is purely voluntary and is in addition to any mitigation or compensatory steps that would be required of Williams to offset potential impacts from its pipeline.


  • Go above and beyond compensatory mitigation requirements to advance conservation and benefit local communities.
  • Develop a transparent, science-based process to evaluate and select stewardship projects that maximize benefits for the business, community and natural resources.
  • Convene and energize stakeholders along the pipeline route to identify shared priorities and implement the best potential projects.


The Conservation Fund designed a turnkey environmental stewardship program for Williams’ Atlantic Sunrise project, an expansion of its Transco pipeline system, which currently transports about 10 percent of the nation’s natural gas.

The Fund first worked with Williams to identify community stakeholders in eight Pennsylvania counties impacted by the pipeline expansion, develop criteria for conservation projects, create an appropriate program budget and map natural resources and community assets with geographic information systems (GIS) technology.

Next, the Fund convened community focus groups with more than 100 stakeholders that identified hundreds of environmental stewardship opportunities. Working closely with Williams, and with feedback from the community, The Conservation Fund applied its optimization modeling tool, which takes raw data about each project’s conservation attributes, as well as the criteria set forth by Williams, and uses a scientific algorithm to calculate the best projects for the company, the communities, and the environment.

“We designed the Williams Environmental Stewardship Program with the intent for it to be an exemplary model that recognizes the importance of working in a collaborative way to go above and beyond legally required mitigation to invest in high value community projects.”

Will Allen, Vice President of Sustainable Programs, The Conservation Fund


Williams has pioneered the environmental stewardship approach to the planning and development of linear infrastructure projects. Williams invested more than $2.5 million in 18 projects that focus on stream restoration, nutrient reduction and recreational trails in Pennsylvania communities. Collectively, these projects will result in: 10 miles of stream frontage restored; 30 acres of riparian area restored; 8 miles of new recreational trails installed; benefits to 200,000 annual trail users; and 925 tons of manure stored annually, preventing harmful nutrients from entering waterways.

“We believe that a project as unique and far-reaching as Atlantic Sunrise requires an equally unique and significant demonstration of our willingness to step up and not only protect, but also enhance the natural resources in the project area.”

—Chris Springer, Atlantic Sunrise project director, Williams

Williams partner page
Thanks to support from William’s Company restoration activities at Camp Snyder in PA are improving habitat for brook trout. Photo by USFWS.

Looking Forward

Through this collaboration, the partners have developed a model for future infrastructure investment projects that proactively maximize environmental and community benefit. After the success of this pilot program, the partnership will continue to look for additional stewardship opportunities. 

February 4, 2015| Business Partnerships
Dow Diamond Baseball Stadium will get LED lighting thanks to a grant from Saginaw WIN. Photo by Cory Seeman/Flickr.

Supporting Grassroots Projects Michigan’s Saginaw Bay

In 1998, The Dow Chemical Company (Dow) approached The Conservation Fund to help them develop a new program that could improve Michigan’s Saginaw Bay watershed and the communities where its employees live, work and play. As an organization that works at the intersection of business and the environment, we were ideally suited to forge the local and regional partnerships necessary to realize Dow’s bold vision for a sustainable Saginaw Bay.


  • Impact the quality of life in local communities
  • Support local projects that protect natural resources and strengthen economies


The largest watershed in Michigan, Saginaw Bay is located between the thumb and forefinger of Michigan’s “mitten” on the state’s eastern boundary with Lake Huron. The watershed includes more than 7,000 miles of rivers and streams and 175 inland lakes. It is home to more than 90 fish species and is a path for migrating songbirds and waterfowl travelling along the Mississippi Flyway. It’s also home to 1.4 million people and to many agricultural and industrial resources that drive Michigan’s economy.

Dow and The Conservation Fund created the Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network (WIN) to invest in efforts on the ground that make Saginaw Bay – and its people – better. Through grants and technical assistance, the WIN program is helping grow the region’s identity as a sustainable community. Dow’s leadership and commitment to sustainability also inspired others to join the charge – the WIN program now includes 12 corporate and foundation partners and has become a catalyst for hundreds of initiatives to improve the watershed and its communities.

“We understand that investors want to see great returns, and by connecting Dow with a range of people, resources, organizations and programs at the grassroots level, we’re making their investment go further and creating a real difference in all facets of the quality of life in the region, and in Saginaw Bay.”

Michael Kelly, Director, Great Lakes Office and Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network, The Conservation Fund

DOW CorpsDow and The Conservation Fund's partnership helps remove dams to improve passage for spawning fish and recreational   kayakers and canoers. Photo by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District.


Since 1998, WIN has invested more than $4.5 million in approximately 250 projects, leveraging an additional $9 million in support for these community efforts.

WIN grants have supported a wide range of locally driven projects. We’ve helped our partners improve the energy efficiency of a minor league baseball team’s stadium, plant community gardens, build trail systems, provide canoe and kayak launch facilities along the watershed’s major rivers, control erosion along tributary rivers to prevent pollution, and even remove dams to improve passage for spawning fish and recreational kayakers and canoers. One of WIN’s biggest ongoing projects involves the removal of a deteriorating dam along the Cass River in the city of Frankenmuth, Michigan’s top tourist destination.

“WIN’s open-minded, collaborative approach to providing funding is fantastic. With its entrepreneurial spirit, WIN is often the first organization to step in and provide grant money.”

Zachary Branigan, Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy, 2014 Saginaw Bay WIN grant recipient

Looking Forward

With nearly 8,700 square miles making up the Saginaw Bay Watershed, there is still much more work to be done. But the seemingly limitless creativity of the organizations, communities and individuals on the ground inspires us to keep going. We look forward to even more exciting projects in the future, working with our partners to build a more sustainable Saginaw Bay region.

Learn More

2017 Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network Annual Report
February 4, 2015| Business Partnerships
Erik Meyers with the Google Trekker on the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail.

Bringing the Outdoors Online and Using Technology for Good

Google Maps logo
Where would we be without Google Maps? Lost. The state-of-the-art mapping technology and innovative Street View developed by Google have given us a better view of the world. By partnering with The Conservation Fund, Google Maps is now giving people a better view of the natural world, one majestic landscape at a time.


  • Use technology as a tool to help people explore some of the most iconic and historically significant landscapes in our country.
  • Engage new audiences by giving them opportunities to experience the great outdoors that they otherwise might not have.
  • Bring awareness to the importance of land conservation in America.


The Conservation Fund and its local partners teamed up with Google Maps to create virtual tours of some of America’s most important places—its parks, waterways and even battlefields. Our staff borrowed and set out with Trekker, a 4-foot-tall, 40-pound camera and backpack, that’s part of Google’s project to create a digital reflection of the world for people to explore and enjoy. Now, these spectacular places are online in Street View in Google Maps for the world to see.

“Much like Google, we are innovators. We find creative ways to engage people in conservation, and this partnership with Google is a brilliant illustration of that. Trekker expeditions spark curiosity, and give people all across the globe a view of the world they may never get to see in person. These treks will inspire a new generation to discover the outdoors and will foster a compassionate, respectful relationship with the natural world.”

Jazmin Varela, Information Manager, Strategic Conservation Planning, The Conservation Fund


The result is a virtual tour of 14 sites across the country where The Conservation Fund played a role in permanent protection. Some of these sites include:

Looking Forward

With more than 7.5 million acres protected across the country, we’ve got even more forests, landmarks and wilderness to capture, and we stand ready to work with Google to keep the masses connected to our natural world.
February 4, 2015| Business Partnerships
Go Zero tree planning at Red River National Wildlife Refuge. Photo by Sean Gardner.

Food for Thought: C&S Wholesale Grocers Makes a Commitment to the Environment

C&S Wholesale GrocersChances are, you’re a customer of C&S Wholesale Grocers, and you just might not know it. As the largest wholesale grocery supply company in the U.S., C&S supplies a supermarket near you with products ranging from seafood to soap. While C&S is making a big impact inside on store shelves, it is also making an impact outdoors by working with The Conservation Fund to address climate change and its forest supply chain by making investments in forests that result in healthy, resilient communities.


  • Address the company’s environmental impact in a way that produces tangible results.
  • Create a more sustainable forest-based supply chain.
  • Enhance the communities where the company’s employees live.


For more than a decade, C&S has partnered with the Fund to protect and restore forests in an effort to address climate change, create habitat for wildlife, engage employees and enhance communities. The company recently announced it would commit to a more sustainable forest-based supply chain. While C&S doesn’t use a lot of paper or make paper-based products or packaging, C&S transports large quantities of food and goods to its network of retailers across the country. Nearly everything it ships to a grocery store near you is stacked on wood pallets.

C&S worked with The Conservation Fund to measure its “forest footprint” for those pallets, and committed to offset a portion of that use by protecting responsibly managed forests. The timber sustainably harvested from these forests will help offset approximately 20,000 wood pallets. 

“The willingness of C&S to forge new ground with forests demonstrates the company’s leadership and commitment to a sustainable forest supply chain. C&S has made a significant and lasting impact in the protection and restoration of forests across America, especially in states where it has operations and employees.”

—Jena Thompson Meredith, Vice President, Business Partnerships, The Conservation Fund


Since 2007, C&S has contributed to the planting of more than 91,000 trees across 250 acres in national wildlife refuges in Louisiana, Missouri and Texas. Restoring these areas to their former forested glory benefits a range of animals like Louisiana black bear, American alligator and long-eared bat. Restored forests also help flood-prone communities within the Mississippi River basin by acting as natural sponges and soaking up excess water. Communities downstream of restoration areas not only stay drier, but they also get an economic boost resulting from enhanced public recreation opportunities.

Along the north coast of California, donations from C&S are enabling the sustainable management of Garcia River Forest. This 24,000-acre expanse of redwoods traps harmful greenhouse gases boosts the local timer economy, cleans water for downstream communities and shelters coho salmon, steelhead trout and Northern spotted owl.

Since announcing its commitment to protecting forest-based supply chains, C&S is helping conserve 8,700 acres of working forestland surrounding Success Pond in northeastern New Hampshire. Furthermore, with the ongoing production of responsibly harvested timber, the land will continue to support more than 20 local and regional jobs for loggers, truckers, foresters and road contractors, while providing timber to mills in New Hampshire, Maine and Canada.

C&S Wholesale Grocers’ commits to a more sustainable forest-supply chain with the ongoing conservation of Success Pond Forest. Located within the Mahoosuc Gateway Initiative, Success Pond is part of a broader conservation effort of 30,000 acres that includes protection of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail in New Hampshire’s North Country region, which is considered a scenic gateway between Maine and New Hampshire. Photo by John Van Hoesen.


Looking Forward

At C&S Wholesale Grocers, we make it a priority to give back in ways that make our employees proud and our communities stronger. We recognize that protecting the environment is a key area where we can make a meaningful difference. Our team is honored by the results we have achieved with The Conservation Fund over the past decade. Together with the Fund, our employees and business partners, we look forward to developing new ways to make lasting, positive impacts for conservation and communities across the U.S.”

—Gina Goff, Senior Director of Community Involvement at C&S Wholesale Grocers


Would you like to help your company offset its carbon footprint? 

Contact Jena Thompson Meredith, Vice President of Business Partnerships, to find out how you can become a Go Zero partner.

Learn More

February 4, 2015| Business Partnerships
Photo courtesy of CSX

Transporting Nutrition to Communities in Need

CSX-logo copyThe Conservation Fund’s tailored approach to conservation gives us the flexibility to work on our partners’ priorities. Our long- standing partnership with CSX demonstrates how we develop unique strategies to help businesses achieve sustainability and corporate social responsibility goals.


  • Connect CSX with local organizations to make the greatest impact in the places that need it most.
  • Educate youth about their connection to nature and encourage them to live greener lives.
  • Help communities along the CSX network that have little access to fresh, healthy food.


A partner since 2007, CSX and The Conservation Fund created a small grants program for transporting healthy food, aimed at improving local transportation and distribution of fresh produce, perishable food to communities in need across 22 states. As CSX efficiently transports agricultural products across its network, and The Conservation Fund protects the natural resources that food and fiber depend upon, the joining of forces to fill a gap in the local freight distribution of healthy food seemed a perfect pairing. In conjunction with the grant program, CSX also created a more targeted program in West Virginia that has provided increased access and funding for healthy foods for hundreds of at-risk children and families living below the poverty line in some of the state’s lowest income counties.

“With CSX’s partnership, we’re not only helping to connect America's families to healthy, fresh fruit and produce, but we’re also supporting our local farmers and working farms. The Fund works in communities across the country with partners like CSX to fulfill their conservation priorities through creative initiatives that protect and enhance landscapes where Americans work, play and experience our natural heritage.”

Will Allen, Vice President of Sustainable Programs, The Conservation Fund

In an effort to help reconnect children with nature, The Conservation Fund and CSX created a school curriculum unit that teaches kids about the environment, math, science and economics through real-world freight transportation scenarios. CSX has also helped restore critical wildlife habitat at two national wildlife refuges through the donation of more than 13,000 trees.

LarrysBlog 3 EzraGregg            
Over 23 million Americans have limited access to fresh food, due in part to an inability for the people growing the food to get their product to market. We're working with transportation leader CSX to bring fresh, healthy food to the places that need it most. Photo by Ezra Gregg.


More than 23 million Americans across the country have limited or no access to fresh produce, dairy, meats and seafood. One of the contributors to these so-called “food deserts” is the lack of local freight infrastructure to distribute fresh food to markets. The Grant Program for Transporting Healthy Food offers grants up to $10,000 to local government and nonprofit entities that distribute fresh, local foods in 22 states where CSX operates. These grants are used to address gaps in local food distribution by providing funds to enhance delivery capabilities with support for a range of activities related to transportation, such as:

  • acquiring refrigerated vehicles for direct delivery to markets; 
  • financing “veggie vans” to bring fresh food to isolated communities;
  • providing better access to food hubs or other sites where produce, dairy, seafood and meats can be stored safely for distribution; and
  • purchasing produce boxes and cold storage bins to keep unsold food fresh for the next day’s farmers market or wholesale purchase.

Since the program’s establishment in 2014, grant funding is projected to enable recipient organizations to collectively serve an additional 150,000 families with more than nine million pounds of food and increase the number of meals provided by 4.5 million.  

In West Virginia, CSX and The Conservation Fund worked with the West Virginia Extension and Mingo County Diabetes Coalition to provide coupons and vouchers to thousands of children and families to help make locally-grown fresh foods more convenient for purchase, and give them hands-on training on how to cook, store and prepare seasonal fruits and vegetables. The West Virginia program has also offered financial assistance for mobile and school-based farmers markets, as well as classes on vendor recruitment, customer service and basic accounting to assist with the long-term viability of the farmers markets.

“The Conservation Fund’s trusted relationships with communities and proven experience in conservation have helped our company make a positive difference in support of the communities we serve. We’re honored to work with the Fund and excited by the success we’ve seen in our programs together to bring healthy foods to local communities.”

—Tori Kaplan, Assistant Vice President, Corporate Social Responsibility, CSX

Looking Forward

The health of our children is one of our nation’s most pressing issues. This partnership is evolving and continues to draws on the strengths of both CSX and The Conservation Fund to address the systematic barriers to access healthy food for families by focusing on capacity building, economic development and access to financing, community planning, preservation of natural resources important to farmers, public health and science and technology.

Video: Connecting Food and Families in West Virginia

February 4, 2015| Business Partnerships
Go Zero tree planting at Red River National Wildlife Refuge. Photo by Sean Gardner.

Setting big goals, taking action, creating a legacy

dellAs an industry leader in environmental sustainability, Dell is committed to bringing real change that benefits people and the planet. The Conservation Fund’s unique ability to use market-based approaches to conservation made us an ideal partner when the company sought business-minded solutions for its ambitious sustainability efforts. Together, we are inviting Dell’s customers and employees to join us in creating a Legacy of Good to improve our environment and strengthen communities.


  • Invite customers to join Dell in decreasing the environmental footprint of their IT equipment.
  • Plant trees and protect forests that benefit our climate, clean the air we breathe, filter the water we drink, provide habitat for wildlife and deliver benefits to our communities and our economy.


In 2007, Dell and The Conservation Fund launched the Plant a Tree program to engage customers in addressing two of the greatest environmental challenges of our time: habitat loss and climate change. Dell created a convenient way for its commercial customers and individual consumers to add a small payment (just $2 for a laptop) to their order. These donations help The Conservation Fund to protect forests in Northern California and plant trees in national wildlife refuges across the country.

Dell has also led multiple marketing initiatives to increase awareness and engage all people, not just customers, to join in. It’s made gifts of trees on behalf of employees and customers, encouraging each of us to join a broader coalition of champions working to protect and restore America’s forests. As a result, hundreds of thousands of trees have sprouted at wildlife refuges across Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland and Texas that will restore habitat for ocelot, black bear and eagle and will help control flooding.

“Our partnership with Dell merges smart conservation with innovation, producing measurable results that make a lasting difference. Dell’s commitment to engaging its employees and customers in its vision for progress and the environment is nothing short of inspiring.”

—Larry Selzer, President and CEO, The Conservation Fund

Outchita Floods-USFWS
Upper Ouachita National Wildlife Refuge. Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.


All told, support from Dell and its customers has resulted in more than one million trees planted.

In Louisiana’s Upper Ouachita National Wildlife Refuge, Dell-sponsored trees are restoring areas vital to the survival of the Louisiana black bear. The bear was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 1992, but thanks to vast support for restoration from public and private leaders including Dell, the bear was removed from the list in 2016. In addition to supporting habitat for wildlife, restored forestlands can act as sponges, soaking up rising waters and protecting downstream communities from flooding.

In Kansas, Dell is a partner in the Fund’s ongoing efforts to restore more than 1,400 acres of native oak and hickory trees at Marais des Cygnes National Wildlife Refuge. Today, the budding forests are managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) for migratory birds including the yellow-breasted chat and indigo bunting. They are open to the public for wildlife-dependent recreational uses.

Dell also supports The Conservation Fund’s Garcia River, Big River and Salmon Creek forests in the coastal redwood region of Northern California. Here, we are implementing sustainable forest management practices that keep these forests financially viable and environmentally healthy. Through changes like light touch harvesting and widening impaired riverfront buffers, we have improved water quality and habitat for coho salmon and steelhead trout and habitat for spotted owl. Dell’s support of improved forest management here will trap more than 8,700 tons of carbon dioxide – the equivalent of almost 21 million miles driven by an average passenger vehicle.

“Now more than ever, it’s not enough to just do less harm. At Dell, we’re looking for ways to use technology to build a lasting legacy—to drive more “good” through everything we do. Our efforts to protect and restore forests are an important part of that: since we began working with The Conservation Fund in 2007, Dell employees and customers have helped us plant more than one million trees—trees that benefit our climate, restore habitats and support green entrepreneurs.”

—David Lear, VP Sustainability at Dell

Looking Forward

Since the start of our partnership, Dell’s environmental initiatives have evolved tremendously. Today, our work complements Dell’s 2020 Legacy of Good plan, which outlines Dell’s commitment to doing 10 times as much good as the footprint that Dell is leaving behind.
Our partnership with Dell merges smart conservation with innovation, producing measurable results that make a lasting difference. Dell’s commitment to engaging its employees and customers in its vision for progress and the environment is nothing short of inspiring.” 
February 4, 2015| Business Partnerships
munchery logoMunchery – What’s for dinner? San Francisco-based Munchery delivers wholesome prepared dinners from top local chefs throughout the Seattle and Bay Area. To make sure your filet of fresh fish is not just sustainably caught, but also sustainably brought, Go Zero plant trees to offset every delivery. Yum!

“We all work and live in the same community, starting with our employees and chefs, to the network of purveyors and local farms we source our ingredients from, and of course our customers. We owe it to ourselves to build a company with a long lasting legacy we all can be proud of.”
— Tri Tran and Conrad Chu, Co-founders, Munchery

Learn More

Munchery Wants To Take a Bite Out Of The Food Delivery Business. October 19, 2013.

February 4, 2015| Business Partnerships
U-HaulU-Haul, the largest do-it-yourself moving company in North America, wanted to give its customers renting equipment at more than 21,000 locations in the U.S. and Canada and on uhaul.com a simple way to make their move a little bit greener. Beginning in 2007, the company partnered with The Conservation Fund to offer customers a chance to donate $3, $5 or $10 at checkout to plant trees and offset their moving-related emissions.

“Since 2007, our partnership with U-Haul has served as a model for corporate social responsibility programs aimed at engaging customers and inspiring employees, and it’s rooted in a continued commitment by U-Haul and its customers to conservation and community.”

—Jena Thompson Meredith, Vice President, Business Partnerships 

Overwhelmingly, customers choose to give back: more than 1.7 million U-Haul customers have elected to offset their emissions, raising over $6 million to plant 756,000 native trees on behalf of The Conservation Fund and National Wildlife Refuges nationwide. So far, U-Haul donations have restored more than 1,900 acres of forest—that’s the size of 1,440 football fields—or two of New York’s Central Park. Over the next 100 years those trees will trap an estimated 448,500 metric tons of carbon dioxide.

Donations have also helped to protect working forests along California’s north coast, including Garcia, Big River and Salmon Creek forests in Mendocino County.
I am extremely proud of the partnership U-Haul company has shared with The Conservation Fund over the past decade. The Conservation Fund has enabled our moving customers to offset carbon emissions from their move, enhance the beauty of the landscape they see during their move and have an overall positive impact on the environment while pursuing the dreams that moving allows.”

—JT Taylor, President of U-Haul International

GoZero-58 Ivan-LaBiancaTree planting at Rouge Park in Detroit. Photo by Ivan LaBianca.In 2013, U-Haul also began supporting urban restoration, starting with Rouge Park in Detroit where 1,600 trees were planted over 2 acres. The plantings were done in partnership with Greening of Detroit as well as volunteers from Quicken Loans and CSX.  To support green job creation, we also launched the Growing Detroit’s Green Economy Fund which is making small grants to Detroit organizations that support entrepreneurs who use natural resources responsibly.

Following the success in Detroit, in 2014 U-Haul pledged $375,000 over three years to our Parks With Purpose program in Atlanta. The company’s support has helped create Lindsay Street Park, the first park in the English Avenue neighborhood of downtown Atlanta, as well as Vine City Park and Boone Park West. These parks will bring cleaner air and water, safer places to play and more job opportunities to an underserved neighborhood. And the establishment of the Growing Atlanta’s Green Economy Fund, funded by U-Haul, is building long-term sustainable solutions for at-risk populations through grants to green or entrepreneurial programs working in some of the city’s most underserved neighborhoods.

In 2017, U-Haul began expanding its urban restoration efforts to additional cities:

  • In the Marlborough community of Kansas City, Missouri, U-Haul is helping develop public green space around a wetland basin built by the city, which will include community gathering space, playground areas, an outdoor amphitheater, recreational opportunities and native gardens, all designed with extensive input from the community. Support from U-Haul also provides workforce training opportunities for residents and will generate additional economic investment within walking distance from the green space.

  • U-Haul and The Conservation Fund are supporting the efforts of Pogo Park, a grassroots community development corporation working in Richmond, California’s tough, inner-city Iron Triangle neighborhood, to transform broken and neglected local parks into safe, green and vibrant public spaces. U-Haul is providing support for the expansion of Pogo Park’s Harbour-8 Park on the Richmond Greenway.

  • As part of a two-year commitment to support urban conservation and green job creation in Chicago, U-Haul and The Conservation Fund have teamed up with Space to Grow, a program of Healthy Schools Campaign and Openlands, to transform schoolyards from gray to green, starting with Nathan S. Davis Elementary School in the Brighton Park neighborhood. These improved schoolyards benefit the entire community by providing beautiful and functional spaces to play, learn and be outside. The schoolyards also use special design elements to help reduce neighborhood flooding.

In its home state of Arizona, U-Haul designated a portion of customer donations to the Upper Granite Creek Aspen Restoration Project in Prescott National Forest. This collaboration with the National Forest Foundation is helping reduce the threat of wildfires by hand-thinning 150 acres of aspen and surrounding pine forests. The project also improves trail conditions to minimize erosion and enhance recreation opportunities. In 2018, U-Haul received an Environmental Excellence Award from Arizona Forward for its support for the Upper Granite Creek Aspen Restoration Project.

Most recently, U-Haul embarked on an initiative to protect forest-based supply chains by working with The Conservation Fund to measure its wood fiber use—from pulpwood to cardboard paper products (e.g. U-Haul’s top-selling boxes)—and create equivalencies to help offset portions of that use. Through this effort, U-Haul is helping to conserve 8,700 acres of working forestland surrounding Success Pond in Northeastern New Hampshire. With the ongoing production of responsibly harvested timber, the land will continue to support more than 20 local and regional jobs for loggers, truckers, foresters and road contractors, while providing timber to mills in New Hampshire, Maine and Canada. The Success Pond Forest is located within the Mahoosuc Gateway Initiative, a broader conservation effort of 30,000 acres that includes protection of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail in New Hampshire’s North Country region, which is considered a scenic gateway between Maine and New Hampshire.

Learn More

January 26, 2015| Programs
We practice conservation to achieve environmental and economic outcomes. Every Fund program places conservation at its center, and our entrepreneurial staff create and implement innovative, practical ways to benefit the natural world and the well-being of Americans from every walk of life.

At the Fund, we believe that conservation is an "all-hands on deck proposition," in the words of one of our former Board Chairs. Conservation takes many forms, and our programs interpret and practice conservation in a mutually-reinforcing way - working in concert to ensure the value of natural resources in America remain essential to our prosperity.

Eastern North Carolina 



Farmers can download an overview and application HERE (Word) or HERE (PDF).
Accountants can download an overview and application HERE (Word) or HERE (PDF).

Why This Project Matters

Farming is hard work, and even harder for small farmers.  Farmers of color face additional challenges– discrimination, difficulty accessing capital, and the loss of family lands.   NCIF is committed to helping disadvantaged farmers – who lack access to financial resources -- diversify their enterprises and build greater financial stability.  Raising vegetables or beef for the local market, for example, or developing a CSA, can provide more revenue streams and reduce risk.

Of course, branching out into new crop or animal production requires more than just agricultural knowledge. Farmers need good financial recordkeeping, tax returns and careful planning to access debt capital and take advantage of federal and state grant opportunities.  That’s where the Accounting Assistance project comes in.  

How It Works

Through this pilot program, farmers who aren’t currently working with Certified Public Accountants will be able to do so at a fraction of the usual cost.  They’ll get help filing their 2015 tax return and will develop a financial recordkeeping system to help keep track of their costs and be ready for future tax years.  

In addition, The Conservation Fund’s Resourceful Communities program will help participating farmers with crop planning and cost management. Learn more.

Farmer Eligibility

Curtis-Branch-c-Bill-Bamberger-390x260Farmer Curtis Branch. Photo by Bill Bamberger.
To be eligible for the program, farmers must:
  • Be able to show at least $10,000 in farm revenue for the previous year.  You may submit receipts of transactions of commodity sales, contracts, W-9s, Schedule F’s, etc.
  • Have NOT have used an accountant for the previous two years.
  • Agree to pay 20% of the cost of accounting services, up to $250.
  • Be located in Eastern NC or the Sandhills region: Beaufort, Bertie, Columbus, Craven, Duplin, Edgecombe, Greene, Halifax, Hertford, Lenoir, Martin, Nash, Pitt, Sampson, Warren, Wayne, and Wilson counties.
  • Agree to complete a survey and interview at the end of the program period to help assess this program.
  • Agree to utilize an accountant from a pre-approved list, OR an accountant of their choice who has experience working with farmers and is current on all certifications and licenses.  

Accountant Eligibility

To be eligible for the program, accountants must:
  • Have substantial experience working with agricultural enterprises and preparing their tax returns;
  • Be current on all licenses and certifications;
  • Have no overdue tax debts, as defined by N.C.G.S. 105-243.1, at the federal, state, or local level; and have no personal and/or professional relationships with the NC Tobacco Trust Fund Commission or Natural Capital Investment Fund (state requirement).   

By the Numbers:
The Natural Capital Investment Fund's 253 portfolio companies have created or retained 4,500 jobs since 2001. 

NCIFund has provided 19,742 hours of technical assistance to more than 1,500 companies since 2001
Visit NCIFund's New Website!

Natural Capital Investment Fund finances and advises small to mid-sized enterprises, primarily in rural and underserved communities across a nine-state region. We help innovative entrepreneurs build locally-owned enterprises that create lasting jobs and community wealth, while using natural resources responsibly.

For example, NCIFund borrowers build local food systems; conserve energy and water; support eco-tourism; find creative outlets for recycled materials; and provide essential community services.

NCIF WhereWeWorkWe frequently partner with banks and community development lenders to provide the complete financing package a company needs to grow. We specialize in flexible capital that reduces the risk that senior lenders face, so they can participate in financing our target sectors. 

NCIFund is a Maryland nonstock corporation that is a 501(c)(3) organization and a certified Community Development Financial Institution. It is recognized as a supporting organization to The Conservation Fund under the Internal Revenue Code.

To apply for a loan or refer a loan to NCIFund, please contact Anna Tefft, NCIFund's Director of Lending at atefft@conservationfund.org, or 336-734-6902.

NCIFund welcomes individuals, lending institutions and charitable organizations who wish to invest in our work or provide charitable support.  To learn more, please contact Marten Jenkins, President, at mjenkins@conservationfund.org, or 304-870-2207. 

To learn more about NCIFund’s strategic initiatives, including specialized support for Farmers of ColorEnergy EfficiencyLocal Food Systems and Southern West Virginia Tourism, please visit the NCIFund website. 


Download the 2017 Impact Report (PDF)

NCIF recognizes that small enterprises often need more than just capital to grow.  That’s why we provides business advisory services along with loan capital.  Since inception, NCIF has provided over 17,000 hours of advisory services to over 900 companies.

NCIF’s strategic initiatives use targeted funding to “double down” on particular sectors, taking this combined approach of loan capital and business advisory services to the next level. Visit the NCIF website for more on our strategic initiatives. 

NCIF’s current strategic initiatives include:  Farmers of Color, Energy Efficiency, Local Food Systems and Southern West Virginia Tourism

For more information, visit the NCIF website

At Natural Capital Investment Fund, our management team maintains a fiscally healthy organization with growing assets and positive trends in its loan portfolio. 

Our ability to do this is made possible with generous support from individuals, foundations, corporations, and government agencies. As such, we are committed to accountability and donor transparency in our operations.

Below are PDF downloads of our most recent audited tax and financial information:

By signing up for our e-newsletter, you agree to receive periodic communication about the latest news and work done by Natural Capital Investment Fund. You can easily unsubscribe at any time, and we commit to only contacting you with pertinent, timely information. (See our Privacy Policy for details.)

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Read NCIF's latest e-newsletter here.

NCIF January 2017 newsletter 1

Past NCIF e-newsletters 

Fall 2016 Newsletter
Spring 2016 Newsletter
Fall 2015 Newsletter
Spring 2015 Newsletter

December 31, 2014| Resourceful Communities

Resourceful Communities offers a variety of training opportunities to strengthen community programming. Our trainings are designed to meet the needs of grassroots organizations and take many forms: workshops, individual trainings, and peer learning visits. Support is provided at no-cost. 

We hope you’ll join us at one of our network events listed below.  Keep an eye on our Facebook page for additional information or give us a call if you have questions!

2021 Upcoming Events

Resourceful Communities will not hold any in-person events until further notice due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Workshops and trainings will resume whenever possible. We appreciate the continued work you are doing in the community. Please be safe and adhere to the country’s social distancing appeal and email us if you have specific needs. Registration for virtual trainings, information and additional details coming soon!

The following information applies to all events:

COST:  There is no charge to attend, but ALL participants must register in advance.

MEALS:  Snacks and lunch will be provided as needed.

MILEAGE ALLOWANCE:  A mileage allowance is provided, limit one allowance per car.

LODGING:  Lodging is offered to those driving more than 2 hours to the workshop closest to your home.

QUESTIONS?  Contact Donna Pratt at dpratt@conservationfund.org.
December 31, 2014| Resourceful Communities
By the Numbers:
Resourceful Communities has awarded more than $6.8M in grants awarded to community organizations 2,200 local “green” jobs supported $12 to $1 return on investments in community solutions.

Our triple bottom line network engages more than 500 community and resource partners, creating environmental, economic and social justice benefits for communities that need it most.
Many of America's most important natural areas are frequently home to our most economically and socially distressed communities.  Resourceful Communities creates opportunities that preserve the rural landscape, lift people out of poverty and celebrate our partner communities’ unique cultures.  Working with a network of 500 grassroots and community organizations, we take a balanced 'triple bottom-line' approach that generates economic, environmental and social justice benefits.  Our effective combination of direct support, skills building and connections to resources nurtures real change where it’s needed the most.  By bringing together communities and conservation, people and places, we have created or retained over 2,200 jobs, and advanced a $12 to $1 return on investments in community solutions.

December 31, 2014| Resourceful Communities
A specialized program of The Conservation Fund, Resourceful Communities supports a network of community groups, faith-based organizations, small towns and resource providers. The triple bottom line is the foundation of our work:  environmental stewardship, social justice and sustainable economic development. Rather than addressing community challenges as isolated issues, this integrated approach nets sustainable, comprehensive improvements.

Our work is built on values and practices that uplift our partners. Our triple bottom line mission grounds our work in helping communities build on their greatest resources: natural, cultural and human assets. 

We help communities implement the triple bottom line through three primary strategies:

Strengthening Organizations: Capacity Building

Resourceful Communities typically works in economically- and socially-distressed places. Our capacity building efforts are designed to meet the needs of limited-resource organizations and takes many forms: workshops, individual trainings, and coaching. All support is provided at no-cost and builds the capacity of the organizations to deliver more effective community programming.

Resourceful Communities offers a variety of training opportunities to strengthen community skills. Capacity building ranges from individualized technical assistance, which aims to improve organizational practices, to workshops that provide skill building opportunities on a range of topics presented by experts and peer educators. Technical assistance and training is designed with partner input and is offered free-of-charge to facilitate participation. Topics might include board development, fundraising and equitable partnerships and community engagement strategies.

Investing in Communities: Small Grants

Through our small grant program, the Creating New Economies Fund (CNEF), we invest in innovative triple bottom line projects.  Grants average $8,000-$12,000, with a maximum award of $15,000. The grants are as unique as the organizations we support, but all funded projects reflect the needs and visions of the communities. Funding has supported a variety of projects, including:  eco-tourism, sustainable agriculture, youth leadership development, alternative energy, and more.

Since CNEF began in 2001, Resourceful Communities has awarded more than $6.8 million in grants, and thanks to this investment, grantees have secured an average additional $12 for every $1 of grant support. Funded projects include development of food distribution centers, green job training programs, paddle trails and more. Our combination of training, funding and connections to additional resources strengthens community-led efforts and results in broad community benefits.

Grant applicants receive training in general grant writing as well as effective project planning strategies. Resourceful Communities continues to provide support to strengthen community projects through improved project design (timeline, budget, evaluation plan, etc.), community engagement and sustainability through connection to additional resources.

We thank our supporters, including the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, the Oak Foundation, USDA Rural Community Development Initiative, the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, the Overhills Foundation and private donors. If you are a current applicant or grantee, please visit our Tools and Forms section to download grant materials, or contact us at kmarks@conservationfund.org. To see a complete list of grantees, click here.

Nurturing Our Network

Resourceful Communities started and continues to support a growing network of grassroots partners and resource organizations (organizations and agencies that provide resources such as training, funding, technical assistance and expertise). We actively provide network opportunities that result in: reduced isolation, shared lessons learned, new partnerships and collaborations, replication of successful models, and new resources for grassroots organizations. Our network connects people across age, race, economic status and geography and help build a movement that advocates for the triple bottom line.

We support our network through:
  • Annual convenings where participants connect with each other and resources and learn about broad trends that affect their communities;
  • Peer learning visits provide opportunities to learn about specific topics and replicate effective strategies by visiting successful projects and engaging with community practitioners;
  • Facilitated connections that provide opportunities for frequently excluded communities to access resources and begin building equitable partnerships.

Video: Resourceful Communities Prioritizing Community Land Preservation