Simultaneously one of the most sparsely populated places on the planet and one of the places most shaped by...learn more
As an institution that celebrates diversity Christensen is delighted to be headquartered in San Francisco. The Bay Area is an outward looking place...learn more
According to a local legend, when the God was distributing land to the people of Earth, the people of...learn more
Melanesia is a vast region of islands and seascapes that stretches across the South Pacific from Eastern Indonesia to...learn more
The mountains, canyons and deserts that stretch from the Southwestern U.S. to Northern Mexico form one of the richest...learn more
The northern section of the Great African Rift Valley is the fertile connecting point of the Mediterranean, African...learn more
The Christensen Fund pursues its mission mainly through place-based investments in a small number of regions with exceptional cultural and biological diversity. The focus on specific regions reflects both the practical value we see in supporting the efforts of locally-recognized community stewards and custodians, as well as a belief that the regions selected are important to the long term future of diversity on the planet. Approximately three quarters of Christensen’s grantmaking funds is focused within five regional programs. For information about how we selected these regions, and our theory of change, see: Our Regional Approach.
To learn about the themes and priority landscapes in each of the regions, please click below:
In addition to our regional programs, we fund international efforts to build global understanding and advance policy change, and to connect the work of our grantees in these regions with others from around the world. This work is the purview of the Global Program.
Our Regional and Global Programs focus on specific issues that fall within four main programmatic themes:
- Sustaining Foodways and Livelihoods within Biocultural Landscapes and Seascapes
- Ensuring Socio-ecological Resilience of Landscapes and Seascapes
- Celebrating and Revitalizing Cultural Expression
- Promoting Knowledge Systems and Biocultural Education
Additionally, the following elements are interwoven throughout all of our programs:
- Rights and representation
- Gender Equality
- Leadership development
- Creative practitioners
Given our location in the San Francisco Bay Area, Christensen also connects locally with organizations in this creative and forward thinking community, and in particular with diaspora from our priority regions and with the indigenous Ohlone, Miwok and other communities. This work is undertaken through our San Francisco Bay Area Program. We also maintain a tradition of Bay Area Charitable Giving and make occasional grants to support community recovery from major disasters.
Christensen also supports the efforts of the philanthropic community to advance indigenous, international and biocultural grantmaking through various Grantmaking Associations.
The Christensen Fund does not believe that foundations like ours should be structured around perpetuity. We do not want our endowment to decline more slowly or last longer than the planet’s diversity. Rather, we seek that our financial capital be reinvested in environmental and social capital as efficiently as possible in ways that provide returns to the planet long after Christensen has made its grants. On the other hand, we also do not believe that a short-term spend out makes sense. Change on the issues related to biocultural diversity can only happen at the speed of the landscape and cultural processes themselves, namely on inter-generational time scales. Furthermore, it takes time to build institutions, and for institutions like foundations to actually learn. For these reasons, the Trustees have set the time horizon for the Fund at about forty years (to the year 2050).
The structure of The Christensen Fund’s programs reflects the tensions between our belief in long-term, slow processes of change, and the fact that one of our primary motivations is to open up new issues and regions to attention and support. Since our foundation will not exist in perpetuity, we do not want to create a situation where grantees are overly dependent on our funds. This is an important challenge given the paucity of funding for holistic and bottom-up approaches and for indigenous communities in general, and to the kinds of regions we have selected in particular.
Consequently, we strive to enable grantees to create or find their own sources of financing and grow beyond our initial support. In other words, we work with an exit plan. We seek to support the ability of these societies to solve their own problems, and to sustain biocultural diversity and their landscapes without depending on a single, small foundation. One measure of success in this regard is for local communities to develop their own re-granting organizations or trusts with their own funding base; institutions rooted in existing social systems which can be more efficient, and effective, than standard western NGO models.