Earth Day 2020

Celebrating 50 years of global and local conservation work

Today, millions of people around the world are celebrating one of the most transformational environmental events of our lifetime – the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. It doesn’t seem radical today to talk about pollution, but 50 years ago, few protections were in place to keep our air, land and water safe and clean. It took millions of people marching and rallying to capture the attention of our nation’s leaders and prompt them to take necessary action. Earth Day is often credited as helping spur creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and passage of several landmark environmental policies including the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act and the Endangered Species Act.

Image credit: Favianna Rodriguez

This day gives us all a chance to reflect on how our actions can make a difference, globally and
locally. This is why we’re incredibly proud that our Community Grants program shares this special 50-year anniversary with such a pivotal worldwide event.

From its founding in 1968, Mountaineers Foundation, now also known as Keta Legacy Foundation, has worked to engage and connect people to the natural world through education, history, and science. Of the many ways we promote conservation and stewardship, our Community Grants program, launched in 1970, is among the most enduring. This program has helped fund hundreds of conservation-focused projects at non-profit organizations throughout the Puget Sound.

In 1970, the same year Earth Day was created; the Foundation’s community grant program funded its first project: a $100 grant for camping education to the newly-founded Central Area Youth Association. That same organization continues to serve Seattle-area youth today and their alumni include Seattle City Council member Bruce Harrell and professional athletes like Jason Terry and Corey Dillon.

Hundreds more grants have since followed, supporting countless community partners engaged in conservation and outdoor education efforts large and small.

  • In 1994 a grant to the Elma Game Club was awarded to produce an educational brochure about the community’s conservation needs.
  • In 2002, the Foundation awarded a grant to Bryant Elementary School PTA to facilitate outdoor learning experiences.
  • A grant awarded to Seward Park Audubon Center in 2012 helped them develop curriculum for middle and high school programs that align with Audubon’s fascinating Pacific Flyway conservation work.

“What if instead of holding bake sales to raise money, schools sold ‘tree cards’ and planted trees?” The Northwest Watershed Institute started its Plant-A-Thon project in 2005 and the Foundation awarded them a grant in 2018 to help them expand their program to more Washington schools. Hundreds of children and families have planted tens of thousands of trees and learned how important trees are for salmon and the planet.

Last year we awarded a grant to EarthCorps’ blue carbon project in the Snohomish River Estuary, a project that could help capture nearly 9 million tons of carbon dioxide locally while establishing best practices to be shared nationally.

The grants detailed here are representative of the work done by the Foundation – supporting conservation efforts with partners locally and nationally. All of these, and the hundreds of other grants given by Mountaineers Foundation, are reflections of the spirit of Earth Day.

You can learn more about the organizations and projects you’ve helped us support on our Community Grants page. While we continue to operate our own programs, working with like-minded organizations and groups has always been central to fulfilling our mission. Our beautiful Rhododendron Preserve, our education programs and support for numerous projects such as Braided River books and the Mountaineers Foundation Library – now housed by the North Cascades Institute – are all examples of our collaborative work over the past decades to connect people to healthy ecosystems.

We often spend a lot of time thinking about how much work there is to do in our communities and for our planet and it can be hard to remember how much we’ve achieved. Today – on the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day – we hope you’ll spend time reflecting on all the amazing things you have helped Mountaineers Foundation/Keta Legacy Foundation and our community partners accomplish over the past five decades as we continue working together to protect our earth.

Our community grants program is possible because of generous supporters who believe in the Foundation’s work and demonstrates the power of partnership and collaboration. If you are able, please make a meaningful gift today.

  • Thank you for your support,
    Jeff Wirtz, President