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The Russell Family Foundation Announces $700,000 in Environmental Education Grants for Youth, $1.5 Million in Impact Investments

*Photo courtesy of Puget Soundkeeper Alliance

March 30, 2021 (Gig Harbor, Wash.) – The Russell Family Foundation (TRFF) today announced 26 grants totaling $700,000 within its Environmental Education Fund, which increases access to approximately 44,000 youth to outdoor environmental learning opportunities in the Puget Sound region. It also announced a combined $1.5 million in two new impact investment funds.

Grants awarded to the 26 community-driven organizations range from celebrating maritime heritage (Foss Waterway Seaport) to providing funding for a pilot of three seasonal day-programs for an outdoor school targeting underserved youth (University of Washington – Mount Rainier Institute).

Each grant reflects TRFF’s mission to support the next generation of environmental stewards, while contributing to a sustainable and peaceful world for people, places and communities.

“These environmental education grants will support both in-person and virtual programs as nonprofits continue to adapt to the challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Kathleen Simpson, CEO of TRFF. “The role these organizations play in the lives of youth is crucial as we nurture the next generation of environmental and community leaders.”

The 26 grantees each have a unique strategy for supporting and encouraging environmental stewardship.

“The Russell Family Foundation is honored to support each of these organizations,” said Fabiola Greenawalt, TRFF Program Officer. “These grants reflect the diverse work of organizations in our region striving to connect youth with nature.”

TRFF further approved two new impact investments. It made a $500,000 investment in Harlem Capital and $1 million in Founder’s Co-op.  Harlem Capital is an early-stage venture capital firm on a mission to change the face of entrepreneurship by investing in 1,000 diverse founders – people of color and women – over the next 20 years and Founder’s Co-op, provides Pacific Northwest companies with the financial investment to support growth.

Details for each grant are as follows:

Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition has had a long-term presence in the Duwamish Valley working to elevate community voices in decisions about the cleanup of the Duwamish River Superfund site. Grant funding will support the youth engagement program that provides a critical pathway toward the goal of environmental justice, education and employment for the youth participants.

The Environmental Science Center brings diverse communities together to promote environmental stewardship and academic achievement through science-based education. The grant will support programs focused on youth experiential education, stewardship and teen leadership in south King County.

The mission of the Foss Waterway Seaport is to celebrate Tacoma’s maritime heritage – past, present and future. This grant will support the Science of the Sea programming that increases students’ understanding of marine and environmental science and how they can coexist with marine environments where they live.

Friends of North Creek Forests was founded with the mission to maintain and improve the ecological function of North Creek Forest through education, stewardship and conservation in perpetuity. The funding will support a variety of operating costs from education intern stipends to equipment for lessons and student-led projects.

Great Peninsula Conservancy is a nonprofit land trust dedicated to protecting the natural habitats, rural landscapes and open spaces of the Great Peninsula region of the West Puget Sound. The funding will support efforts at Great Peninsula Conservancy’s Land Lab sites, which engage Kitsap county middle school students through environmental science projects.

Harbor WildWatch is a marine and environmental education organization working to inspire stewardship of the Puget Sound and greater Salish Sea. The funds will support virtual learning programs and fundraising needs for youth in Pierce and Kitsap counties.

The Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust leads and inspires action to conserve and enhance the landscape from Seattle across the Cascade Mountains to Central Washington, ensuring long-term balance between people and nature. The funding will support the Greenway Education Program, which engages King County students from fourth to 12th grades in hands-on scientific inquiry into the natural world.

The Nisqually Indian Tribe are the original peoples of the South Puget Sound. This funding will support the virtual expansion of Nisqually Environmental Team’s culturally appropriate environmental education programs which engage Nisqually youth and north Thurston students in environmental and natural resources projects.

The Nisqually Reach Nature Center’s mission is to promote the understanding, appreciation and conservation of the Nisqually Estuary through education, interpretation and community science. The funding will support salaries and benefits of the professional staff that will deliver educational programs to Thurston, Pierce and Kitsap county students in fifth through ninth grades.

The Northwest Maritime Center aims to engage and educate people of all generations in traditional and contemporary maritime life, in a spirit of adventure and discovery. The funding will be used for general operations support of its environmental education programs that will serve youth from Jefferson, Kitsap and King counties.

The mission of Deep Green Wilderness is to help create change that is meaningful for the ecosystem, the community and the future. This funding will support scholarships for students to join Deep Green Wildness’ programs for free or at reduced cost including programs in partnership with Tacoma Urban League, Outdoor Afro, Latino Outdoors and She Jumps.

The mission of Oxbow Farm & Conservation Center is to inspire people to eat healthy, sustainably grown food and to steward our natural resources for future generations. This grant will cover staff time and related supplies of Oxbow’s education team serving 800 east King County and Seattle students in fifth through eighth grades.

Pacific Marine Research works to educate and train future stewards of Puget Sound. TRFF’s funds will support its flagship program, Marine Science Remote, a hands-on science education program advancing students’ knowledge and connection to Puget Sound and its surrounding watersheds. Funding will help Pacific Marine Research develop the program’s curriculum, procure equipment, develop partnerships and engage in community outreach.

The mission of the Pacific Shellfish Institute in Olympia, Wash. is to foster sustainable shellfish resources and a healthy marine environment through research and education. This funding will support education staff salaries, program expenses and more for its no-cost environmental education programs serving students kindergarten through 12th grade.

The Port Townsend Marine Science Center aims to inspire conservation of the Salish Sea by providing programs for people to participate in first-hand experiences in the marine environment. This funding will be used to continue to provide virtual, hybrid and in-person outdoor programs and activities for students in Jefferson and Kitsap counties.

The Community Boat Project is a partnership working to build a stronger community by giving youth job and life skills through adult mentorship. This grant will be used to support general operations of the Voyaging/Sailor Scientist, Community Builders and Shelter from The Storm programs.

The Puget Soundkeeper Alliance was the first and is still the only organization entirely focused on stopping water pollution sources throughout the Puget Sound basin. Funding will support the partnership between Puget Soundkeeper Alliance and Unleash the Brilliance (UTB), a youth-mentorship organization, to create a paid summer internship program for UTB’s Youth Leaders to use Springbrook Creek as an outdoor learning classroom.

The mission of Sustainability Ambassadors is to rapidly advance a sustainable future that empowers youth to catalyze community sustainability, teachers to integrate rigor with relevance for real‐world impact, and community to drive collective impact. General operating support will help the organization to expand various programs serving King County.

Mount Rainier Institute (is an outdoor school program for students in the fifth through 12th grades, specifically targeting underserved audiences in the greater Puget Sound and Mount Rainier region. This funding will support in the pilot of three seasonal day-programs serving participants from traditional school groups, families, and home-school groups.

Vashon Nature Center’s mission is to create transformative nature experiences through community science, education, and research, that benefit their island and the Salish Sea region. The funding will support Vashon Nature Center’s staff and program expenses to deliver programs to students from Vashon Island and beyond.

The Washington Future Farmers of America (FFA) Foundation was founded with the goal to provide financial support for programs that recognize excellence in agricultural education and FFA leadership. This funding will support program areas focused on environmental and natural resources, forestry and agriscience. Funds will cover education materials, event supplies, technology, and stipends for participation.

Washington Trails Association (WTA) mobilizes hikers and everyone who loves the outdoors to explore, steward and champion trails and public lands. This funding will support WTA’s Outdoor Leadership Training program expansion to the Tacoma/South Puget Sound region by empowering teachers and youth group leaders with the skills and resources needed to lead youth in safe and fun outdoor experiences.

Wild Society is a non‐profit organization based in Kitsap County working to cultivate wonder and belonging in the natural world. Funding will be used to hire a part‐time development and outreach director to pursue more funding opportunities, build donor relationships and expand marketing outreach to fill programs and operate sustainably.

As Washington’s largest refugee resettlement and service organization, World Relief Seattle works with refugees and immigrants. Funding will support activities including paid youth internships that provide refugee youth to combine sustainability training with place-based environmental service learning at a community garden. It will also go towards photos and videos of the garden to be used in school curriculum.

The YMCA’s vision focuses on individual and community resiliency, where all, especially the young, have the ability and resources to achieve their fullest potential in spirit, mind, and body. Support will make it possible for YMCA’s Earth Service Corps (YESC) to provide programming for 1,000 youth to take a hands‐on role in creating a healthier environment in their schools and communities while nurturing a respect for diversity within the natural world.

The YMCA has a long and storied history of serving the people and communities encompassing Pierce and Kitsap counties. This funding will support 250 students with scholarships to attend its Camp Seymour Outdoor Environmental Education Program, which immerses students in grades four through eight in nature.

For more information on The Russell Family Foundation and its Environmental Education Program, visit





About The Russell Family Foundation

Founded by George and Jane Russell, The Russell Family Foundation (TRFF) provides a way for their extended family to make a quiet, positive impact in the community. TRFF does so by funding local, regional and global change through community investment in causes including resources for grassroots leaders, environmental sustainability and global peace. The organization applies their values of integrity, mutual trust, constructive communication, life-long learning and courage to all their work. With a place-based focus in the Puget Sound region, TRFF places particular emphasis on Pierce County, WA. For more information visit