- Assets: $46,228,653 (2014)
- Grants Received: $0 (2014)
- Grants Awarded: $5,210 (2014)
Known until 2010 as the Global Resource Action Center for the Environment (GRACE), the New York-based GRACE Communications Foundation (GCF) was established in 1996 by the environmentalist/philanthropist Helaine Lerner, who continues to serve as the organization's president. Upon its inception, GRACE/GCF administered a Factory Farm Project (FFP) that sought to discredit industrial agriculture as a salutary means of food production, with the implicit intention of eliminating it altogether. To this end, the FFP initiated a variety of community outreach programs aimed at exciting grassroots opposition to factory farms among disaffected farmers and left-wing activists. Another najor GRACE/GCF campaign was the Nuclear Abolition Project, which sought to eliminate nuclear weapons from the arsenals of all nations worldwide. In its early years, GRACE/GCF was a member of the Abolition 2000 network and the Peace and Security Funders Group. A key member of the GRACE/GCF advisory committee at that time was the anti-nuclear activist David Krieger.
GRACE/GCF was a signatory to a May 30, 2000 document denouncing globalization generally and the World Trade Organization (WTO) in particular. The organization also endorsed a 2003 “Our World is Not for Sale” campaign similarly condemning the WTO. In addition, GRACE/GCF endorsed a 2000 document called the Earth Charter, which lamented the existence of economic inequality and blamed capitalism for many of the world's environmental, social, and financial problems.
GCF's principal mission today is to “increase public awareness of the critical environmental and public health issues created by our current industrial food system, and to advocate for more sustainable alternatives.” In pursuit of these objectives, GCF administers three major programs:
(1) The Sustainable Table program was established in 2003 to “empower” people “to change the [existing] food system as savvy consumers and well-informed advocates.” Like the aforementioned Factory Farm Project, Sustainable Table claims that large-scale industrial agriculture/factory farming is an environmental nightmare that:
- compromises public health by “contaminating ground and surface water [and] releasing harmful pollutants into the air;
- poses great danger to the biodiversity of plant and animal species across the globe;
- is dominated by “large, profit-driven companies which view animals as units of production, rather than [as] living creatures, and put efficiency and profits ahead of animal health and welfare”;
- commonly “creates an economic downturn” in communities where large farms replace small farms;
- fosters the overuse of antibiotics that are “responsible for drug-resistant bacteria emerging on farms [and subsequently reaching] the general population through … the food consumers eat”;
- routinely injects livestock with growth hormones whose “residues in meat and milk are harmful to human health, animal health, and the environment”;
- makes extensive use of pesticides that “have been linked to a number of health problems, including neurologic and endocrine ... system disorders, birth defects, cancer, and other diseases”; and
- uses potentially dangerous genetic engineering techniques that involve “the transfer of specific traits, or genes, from one organism into a plant or animal of an entirely different species.”
Sustainable Table also asserts that “the global food system—including deforestation to make way for crops for cattle and cars—is responsible for an estimated one-third of total greenhouse gas emissions” that contribute to potentially catastrophic “climate change.” In addition, the Sustainable Table program seeks to ensure that “undocumented immigrants” who work on farms receive “fair wages” and adequate “benefits” in exchange for their labor.
(2) The Water Program was launched in 2008, and it consists of a collection of tools, tips, and information designed to help individuals “make water conservation part of their everyday lives.” The program is best known for its Water Footprint Calculator, an interactive tool that allows people to estimate their water usage and learn how to reduce their “water footprints.”
(3) The Energy Program promotes the development and use of “clean” and “renewable” energy in the form of wind and solar power. It also educates consumers about the purportedly negative environmental effects of conventional energy derived from fossil fuels. Moreover, the program opposes the use of fracking as a means of harvesting natural gas and oil, on the premise that this method of resource extraction may contaminate groundwater in the vicinity.
To view a list of organizations that have received funding from GCF over the years, click here.
GCF's executive director is Scott Cullen, an environmental attorney who previously worked on coastal and marine conservation issues with the Nature Conservancy.
(Information on grantees and monetary amounts courtesy of The Foundation Center, GuideStar, ActivistCash, the Capital Research Center and Undue Influence)