Awarding Legal Settlements to the Rose Foundation

Restitution Grantmaking at the Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment from Rose Foundation on Vimeo.

The Rose Foundation's unique role as a bridge between philanthropy and the community has been recognized by state and federal courts, which have appointed the Foundation as trustee over more than 300 restitution, cy pres or mitigation funds related to consumer and environmental issues. Through this program, the Foundation has been entrusted with over $20 million in settlement funds and has been named as recipient of additional awards which are anticipated to total over $5 million.

In accordance with charitable law, each settlement document assumes the force of a deed of gift and specifies the allowable uses of the funds. As part of aligning grant awards with the nexus of the settlement, to the extent possible, the Foundation prefers to award grants to organizations that are active in the communities which suffered the original harm.

Strategically Reinvesting Settlements into Communities
Specialized grants funds are created based on settlement requirements. The Rose Foundation provides stewardship over the restitution or cy pres funds, takes full responsibility for meeting court-ordered use restrictions, constitutes expert Advisory Boards as needed to oversee the resulting grantmaking initiatives, and prepares full reports as needed describing the use of funds to satisfy U. S. Justice Department and any other oversight requirements. Restitution and cy pres grant funds have included:

  • Watershed Protection Fund: Originally constituted as the San Francisco Bay Citizens Action Fund and seeded with a $900,000 restitution award from Exxon and supplemented by payments from many additional settlements involving San Francisco Baykeeper, California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, Communities for a Better Environment, Puget Soundkeeper Alliance and many other non-profit environmental watchdogs, this fund has awarded more than $10 million to support hands-on restoration, technical research, educational and advocacy projects throughout California and the Pacific Northwest.

  • Consumer Privacy Rights Fund: Originally seeded with $1.3 million from Union Bank and Cal Fed Bank and supplemented by several other cy pres awards from settlements involving the Utility Consumers' Action Network and other organizations and individuals, this fund has awarded over $3 million in support of research, public education and advocacy in California and throughout the US.

  • Consumer Financial Education Fund: Created by a $4.2 million cy pres award from Bank of America, the fund supports financial literacy programs throughout the US.

  • Kern County Air Pollution Mitigation Fund: Created with a series of settlements between the Sierra Club and residential developers in the Bakersfield area, the fund has awarded more than $1.5 million for on-the-ground mitigation projects, including helping to purchase clean-fueled school buses.

  • Herbal Products Fund: Created with a small pool of settlements involving individual plaintiffs and manufacturers and distributors of herbal supplements, this fund supports research and advocacy around human health issues related to herbal products.

  • Air Quality Fund: Created from settlements involving Communities for a Better Environment, Ozone Action and several other organizations, this fund awarded more than $1 million to fund citizen advocacy, technical support and environmental justice projects in Southern California and the Bay Area, as well as national efforts to reduce releases of stratospheric ozone depleters.

How We Administer Settlement Funds
The Rose Foundation establishes grants funds that closely conform with the nexus of each settlement. Most of these grants funds are advised by an expert funding board.

For more information, contact the Executive Director