The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation announces its largest-ever portfolio of environmental grants, increasing the organization’s total direct financial giving to over $59 million since 1998.

Additionally, after a period of increased grantmaking and a goal of expanding its global impact, the foundation warmly welcomes veteran environmental leader Terry Tamminen as CEO.

$15.6 million in grants have been awarded for wildlife and habitat conservation, to aide in the defense of indigenous rights, and to support innovative grass roots efforts aimed at combating climate change and solving complex environmental issues. These grants support the work of LDF partners, which range from major environmental conservation organizations to local partners who are fighting to protect and defend vital ecosystems and species that are gravely impacted by the global environmental crisis caused by climate change.

“Today we are greatly increasing our level of vital grantmaking and strategic partnerships to help solve some of the world’s most pressing environmental challenges,” said Leonardo DiCaprio, Founder and Chairman of LDF.

In his new role as CEO, Mr. Tamminen will oversee operations, the implementation of a new comprehensive climate change action plan, and numerous global environmental and climate change initiatives. He will report directly to Mr. DiCaprio. “We are pleased to have Terry join us as CEO,” said Mr. DiCaprio. “Terry is a proven leader, with the experience and passion necessary to work alongside Justin and the entire LDF team to further strengthen and expand the impact of our global efforts.”

LDF Executive Director Justin Winters, who has been with the foundation since 2007, will continue expanding its extensive global grantmaking program and strategic partnerships. As with the grant portfolio announced today, Mrs. Winters will work to identify, support and collaborate with the most innovative and effective environmental programs, which range from major conservation and climate groups, to grassroots initiatives and committed activists.

Mr. Tamminen joins LDF from Seventh Generation Advisors, a boutique environmental consulting practice he founded in 2007 to provide advice and guidance to policymakers and emerging leaders on the development and adoption of clean energy economies worldwide. He previously served as Secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency under Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and is a prominent figure in the environmental movement.

“Leo and his foundation have been an invaluable voice in the environmental movement for many years,” said Mr. Tamminen. “I am proud to join them in the fight for the defense of our natural world and the protection of every living creature on Earth. I look forward to working with Leo and the LDF team as we expand the impact of the foundation in the years to come.”

Wildlife/Habitat Protection Portfolio: $7,631,508

LDF is protecting endangered wildlife by enabling cutting-edge, results-driven conservation and restoration projects in the world’s most biodiverse ecosystems. Only 12% of the world’s forests and natural wildlands are protected. As global demand increases for timber, fossil fuels, minerals, and agricultural products like palm oil, rubber and soy, corporations are encroaching deeper into the world’s last wild places. The foundation’s grant making strategy aims to improve the future for vulnerable wildlife on land by protecting and restoring natural habitats, ending poaching in critical regions, and reintroducing native species back into the wild. At the same time, the foundation’s partners on the ground work with local governments and communities to build successful, long-term solutions that benefit all stakeholders. Grantees include the Elephant Crisis Fund (Wildlife Conservation Network and Save the Elephants), Lion Recovery Fund (Wildlife Conservation Network), Mkomazi Rhino Sanctuary (George Adamson African Wildlife Preservation Trust), Maasai Wilderness Conservation Fund, Turtle Conservancy, Naturalia, California Mountain Lion Conservation (National Park Service), World Wildlife Fund, Pacific Wolf Coalition, Defenders of Wildlife and International Fund for Animal Welfare.

Oceans Portfolio: $2,525,000

LDF is a leader in marine conservation, working to improve ocean health and protect key ocean ecosystems and marine wildlife by supporting innovative projects in underserved areas. Oceans provide half of the world’s oxygen supply, regulate the global climate system and directly support the life of nearly 50% of all living species. Yet, only 2% of the oceans are formally protected. LDF’s partnerships aim to safeguard endangered ocean habitats and species, constrain overfishing, and establish and expand marine protected areas. Grantees include Oceans 5 and the Global Partnerships for Sharks Fund.

Indigenous Rights Portfolio: $2,100,000 million

Less than one percent of philanthropic giving goes to indigenous people and issues, and only a small fraction of that money is granted to indigenous-led organizations or initiatives directly. Yet, according to the IUCN, 80% of the world’s remaining biological diversity is found on indigenous lands and traditional territories; 90% of the world’s language and cultural diversity. Even without consideration of vital justice, human rights, and equity issues, arguably one of the most important strategies to protect wild species and places, is to partner with the people who call those places home. Investment in the emergence of an effective, empowered, and indigenous-led conservation movement is essential to protecting the Earth. Grantees include Utah Dine Bikeyah, RAVEN, United Tribes of Bristol Bay, Wishtoyo Foundation and Amazon Watch.

Innovative Solutions Portfolio: $2,085,000

Portfolio Objectives: LDF’s Innovative Solutions portfolio is designed to support innovation at the grassroots level that can be replicated and amplified to bring about new pathways for change. The work in this context includes tools and tactics that are flexible, forward thinking and creative. The range of tools includes new ways to use the legal framework to empower communities, sustainable design, technology driven solutions and empowering citizens to become active through bold media and education initiatives. Grantees include Digital Democracy, Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, Mongabay, Waterkeeper Alliance, Water Defense, Bioneers, Biomimicry Institute, Earth Echo International and People’s Grocery.

Climate Change Portfolio: $1,300,000

The outcome of COP21 signals that there is an unprecedented opportunity to invest in climate solutions that will further elevate the urgency of the issue and immediately make an impact. The consensus that was reached at COP21 signaled a greater opportunity to accelerate the deployment of strategies and solutions in order to make a broader impact. Investing in a diverse combination of powerful tools can help to increase our efforts to lower greenhouse gas emissions and expedite the transition to a clean, green economy. These tools include innovative use of the legal system, media, and technology. Grantees include Our Children’s Trust, Desmog Blog, Empowered By Light, TreePeople and Native Renewables.

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