Funding Programs: Conservation

Conserving precious lands and habitats across the U.S.


The Problem

In Western Pennsylvania and across the nation, important habitats are imperiled, threatening biodiversity and undermining people’s quality of life.

Our Vision

Wildlife flourishes and people thrive in those once-imperiled habitats, through strategic land protection, stewardship, and activation, and sustainable economic development that deploys renewable energy and new technologies that foster livable communities and healthy natural systems.

Investment Areas

Areas We Invest In

Since its founding in 1947, the Richard King Mellon Foundation has committed more than $1 billion to conserve and restore critical habitats in Pennsylvania and across the United States; to promote sustainable economic development; and to help create livable communities. The Foundation’s Conservation program has four investment areas: habitat conservation; stewardship; activation; and sustainable communities. The Foundation uses innovative financial approaches across all four investment areas, including program-related investments (PRIs) and other mechanisms to maximize the impact of its funding.

Habitat Conservation



Sustainable Communities

Request for Proposals


Apply for a Grant

The Conservation program is currently accepting funding applications. • All applicants should apply using the General Application. • Applications may be submitted on a rolling basis. Apply Now

Our Impact

In 2021, the Foundation awarded 73 grants and program-related investments totaling $48,260,925 to advance its Conservation strategy, as articulated in the Foundation’s 2021–2030 Strategic Plan.

Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ: Conservation

A PRI is a financing tool that allows foundations to provide funding to for-profit businesses to create solutions to social problems in furtherance of that foundation’s charitable purposes. PRIs can take many forms, including loans, equity investments or financial guaranties. Foundations do expect a PRI to be repaid according to the terms of the investment. When that happens, a foundation distributes the returned funds to other charitable purposes within one year.

Grants are the primary form of financial support utilized by the Foundation, but it encourages innovative approaches to conservation such as program-related investments. Given the scale of the nation’s conservation challenges, partnerships with public agencies and for-profit companies are looked upon favorably.

Yes. The Foundation bases its decisions whenever possible on data-driven, scientifically backed evidence, and therefore supports and recognizes the importance of research. Planning efforts also are supported with the expectation that they will lead to programs that advance the Foundation’s Conservation strategy.

While Southwest Pennsylvania is our home and an area of particular interest to the Foundation, the Conservation program is national in scope and has made and will continue to make investments throughout the nation.